Call deflection: How contact centers can ace it

Sprinklr Team

July 28, 20239 min read

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You're in the middle of a difficult project with a tight deadline. But every few minutes, a colleague drops by to ask you about the printer's setup, the Wi-Fi password, or where the coffee machine is. Each interruption might seem small, but they all add up, diverting attention from your project. 

Doesn't this sound frustrating? Believe it or not, the scenario is quite similar to what a customer service agent faces each day, even in the most well-managed and smoothly functioning call centers. Agents get swamped with basic inquiries from all ends. Meanwhile, complex issues requiring urgent attention get buried under an endless list of calls. 

There's a smart fix for this—call deflection. It's like setting up a guidebook or a 'How-to' list in the office. This way, your customers can find the answers to their questions on their own and your call center agents can stay focused on urgent queries. 

Want your customer service agents to pay more attention to the harder problems? Learn how call deflection can help you with this. Let's learn how call deflection can help your customer service team operate more efficiently. 

Table of Contents

What is call deflection? 

Call deflection is a strategy to reroute some of your customer support calls to other digital channels like SMS, live chat, email or messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Call deflection, contrary to its name, isn't about avoiding customer calls. Instead, it's a strategic redirection. 

Let's break it down: 

  • Call deflection diverts incoming customer calls to different channels. This could be self-service options or other modes of communication like SMS. 

  • The aim isn't to put off customers but guide them to a service channel that can help them quickly and efficiently. 

  • An added benefit is that it lowers the volume of calls to your agents, allowing them to focus on more complex inquiries. 

Customers can choose the route that suits them best. It's all about directing the traffic in the best possible way to create a win-win situation for both the customers and call center agents. 


How does call deflection work? 

Call deflection operates by strategically directing incoming calls to alternative digital platforms (text messages, chatbots, etc.) based on issue complexity and caller preference. 

Here's a brief overview of how it works: 

  • Basic or low-touch inquiries get routed to self-help resources such as knowledge bases or in-app guides. 

  • For slightly complex or mid-touch queries, customers are directed to live chat, WhatsApp or SMS. 

  • High-touch issues, i.e., the ones requiring immediate and specialized attention, are handled directly by call center agents. 

All of these give customers the power to find their answers without intervention from call center agents. 

Why is call deflection important for call centers? 

In simple terms, call deflection involves dealing with customer problems digitally instead of on a call. Here's why it's a good idea. 

1. It leads to a better customer experience  

Call deflection isn't just a shift in approach, it's the key to a better customer experience. This technique ties up with customer preference for online interactions.  

  • Quick support: Instead of keeping customers waiting on hold, you deflect them to other channels where they can receive pertinent information and assistance, saving them time and boosting their satisfaction. 

  • Contextual replies: When switching from one platform to another, customers don't need to restate their issues. Context is maintained and transferred to the next touchpoint seamlessly, which makes for a great caller experience. 

  • Choice and flexibility: Call deflection gives customers the freedom to choose their preferred mode of interaction from texts to emails. 

  • Shareable links: Sharing of files, media and resources is easier on digital platforms than on voice calls. For instance, if a caller is facing difficulty in setting up their oven, you can redirect them to a troubleshooting video in your knowledge base and solve their issue there and then. 


Call deflection changes the way brands interact with customers. It's about making things easier, faster and more customer-centric.  

2. It enables you to handle call volume spikes 

Handling a large volume of phone calls can be difficult, leading to long wait times and annoyed customers. But with call deflection, your business can move these questions online, making it easier to keep up with the rush and keep your customers happy. 

3. It results in huge cost savings 

Call deflection helps businesses save big. Companies using digital solutions have slashed costs by up to 30% and improved customer satisfaction by 19%. With effective call deflection, you can reduce your call inflow and operate with leaner teams. 

4. It boosts your agents' performance 

Intelligent call deflection is the key to improved agent productivity. Let's break down how that happens. 

  • Multiple interactions: Agents can handle multiple text chats at once. That's call deflection at work. One voice call equals one customer. But in chat or SMS, the numbers multiply. 

  • Extra time for agents: Owing to the asynchronous nature of live chat and SMS, customers don't expect immediate answers. This gives agents a breather and time to find helpful information and craft more effective responses. 

  • Improved morale: When your agents don't have to deal with basic, repetitive calls day in, day out, their cognitive needs are fulfilled and they feel more productive.  

  • Automation:  Many customer queries are common and can be quickly addressed using automated responses, which significantly reduces your average handle time (AHT)

5. It facilitates 24/7 support 

Most call centers work within set hours. However, customers might have questions around the clock. Call deflection routes these after-hour questions to always-on chatbots and other customer self-serve tools, ensuring customers get answers whenever they need them. 

As you can see, call deflection isn't just about handling heavy call volumes or saving money. It's also about meeting customers on their preferred platforms, which invariably boosts customer satisfaction and customer retention — a key priority for customer experience leaders, as revealed in our CCW Top Trends Report 2023

Strategies for effective call deflection 

Call deflection might appear straightforward, but you'd be surprised how often businesses stumble. The main slip? They're simply transferring queries instead of solving them. That's why it's crucial to apply call-deflection strategies that can get you on the right footing. Let's discuss them in detail. 

1. Point callers to the right channel using automated notifications 

Automated notifications can make a huge difference to customer support. They provide timely, relevant information that may prevent a support call. 

  • Send automated emails, SMS notifications or website alerts to keep your prospects and customers in the loop so they don't pick up the phone in panic and call your agents. 

  • Post-deflection, keep your customers informed of the status of their query on every channel they use. It makes customers feel valued and minimizes panic calls. 

2. Highlight your self-support options 

By delivering relevant information to customers before they reach out to support, you can proactively address concerns. According to a Harvard report, 81% of consumers prefer self-service above all. 

List out your self-support options on your contact page so visitors can find them easily.  

To gently guide customers to your knowledge base, start by placing it in your main navigation menu. Include links to it in your automated emails and newsletters. Additionally, deploy AI chatbots on your customer-facing channels like websites, apps and social media pages.  

3. Build a great knowledge base 

An extensive knowledge base empowers customers to find answers to their questions with zero calls. To be effective, your knowledge base should be: 

  • Comprehensive: Cover as many customer queries as possible. 

  • Searchable: Articles should be Google-friendly so customers can find them by simply typing their query in search engines. 

  • Easily accessible and navigable: Make it effortless for users to find their way around. Structure your content into intuitive categories that mirror customer issues like "Getting Started" and "User Guides". A search bar and quick filters can also enable quick browsing.  

  • Don't forget to enrich your content with diverse formats — text, images, videos, infographics and walkthroughs — to cater to users with different learning styles. This combination ensures a knowledge base that's both resourceful and user-friendly.  


To gather topics for your knowledge base, dig into your customer emails, call records or feedback forms. And, keep updating your knowledge base to ensure it remains a dynamic and impactful resource. 

4. Streamline with smart IVR systems 

Rather than having a passive IVR ((Interactive Voice Response) system that merely assists, why not turn it into an active solution finder? Craft your IVR messages to prompt callers, for instance, "If you're looking for this information, you can find answers on our website". 

If you use an AI-powered IVR platform, it ensures a smooth handover with minimum data loss, making for an uninterrupted experience for your caller. 

Lastly, don't forget to leverage the power of IVR analytics. It can spotlight the most popular channels among your customers. By focusing your resources on these popular channels, you can enhance support and thereby boost your customer satisfaction rates. This way, call deflection truly becomes a tool for improved customer experience. 


5. Analyze your customer calls 

Analyzing customer calls can uncover prevalent product issues and customer behavioral patterns. Identifying your contact drivers and segregating them by channels, products and regions gives you an insight into your product gaps. Learning about your customer behavior tells you what contact channels they prefer. 


Inform your call deflection strategy with these granular insights and risk-proof your call center. 

6. Implement conversational AI 

Chatbots and voice bots can handle a significant portion of your voice calls, allowing your agents to focus on complex issues. 

  • Chatbots can answer common queries quickly and efficiently. They have been found to reduce the call queue length by a notable 65%.  

  • Voice bots are even more personable than chatbots, especially when they are powered by conversational AI technology. 


Also read: Three keys to mastering the art of Conversational AI  

7. Create a tight-knit customer community  

You can configure your IVR to deflect some of the calls to your customer community, which offers a wealth of benefits, from quick answers to deeper insights. When you build an online customer community

  • Encourage customers to share tips and solutions. 

  • Learn directly from the customer's voice to improve your service. 

  • Share product updates and receive immediate feedback. 


Implementing call deflection: A strategic approach 

Call deflection, if implemented strategically, can deliver a pleasant customer experience at substantially low costs. Here are some best practices to remember when rolling out this strategy. 

Answer before they call 

Your call deflection strategy should be designed to serve customers even before they make the call. The primary aim is to lower the number of inbound calls, thus improving the efficiency of your customer service.  

The first place customers look when they encounter an issue is your contact page. Employing conversational AI there can intercept this process, offering solutions even before customers dial your number. 

Analyze and compare agent performance 

Keeping an eye on key performance indicators such as Average Speed of Answers (ASA), First Time Resolution (FTR) rates, and overall call volumes is vital. Analyzing your call center's performance week-over-week can reveal patterns and help fine-tune your call deflection strategy. 


Dive deeper: 10 important call center KPIs to track 

Be prepared for heavy traffic  

Even with the most robust call deflection mechanism in place, there will be times when callers will insist on talking to a live agent. Sales campaigns and new product launches are some such events. In these scenarios, you need to manage your workforce efficiently so no calls goes unattended. 

But how? 

Workforce management tools can help with staffing by identifying historical trends in traffic. They also predict traffic spikes, enabling you to tighten up your call deflection mechanism in time. 

For instance, an analysis of your typical caller journey might reveal that many customers attempt self-service on your website before making a call. This could indicate a gap in your online resources, prompting you to beef up your website or knowledge base. These improvements can, in turn, help deflect more calls and reduce traffic. 

Always allow for human touch 

Despite call deflection and hands-free support tools the human touch remains indispensable in customer support. Providing customers with the option to connect with live agents at every step of their journey is crucial for delivering a personalized and satisfactory experience. 

Integrate warm transfers from bots to agents to reduce churn and shock. Warm transfers allow customers to chat with a representative before making a call. This way, the support team gets a comprehensive understanding of the situation and develops a tailored solution for the caller. 

Read more: How to preserve the human touch in customer support 

Measuring your call deflection efficiency and success 

Understanding how well your call deflection efforts are working involves focusing on your call deflection rate. The rate tells you how much demand your alternative digital channels and self-service resources are absorbing — demand that would otherwise land on the desks of your call center agents. 

The formula to calculate your deflection rate is: 

Deflection Rate = (Number of support requests resolved via digital channels / Total support requests received) x 100 

Let's assume you received 1,000 support requests over two weeks, and 360 of those were resolved through self-service channels. Your call deflection rate would be: 

Call Deflection Rate = (360 / 1,000) x 100 = 36% 

This implies that 36% of your support requests were handled without requiring the attention of a support agent. 

Call deflection rate is a dynamic concept influenced by factors like industry type, product or service complexity and the strength of your self-service options. No single benchmark fits all situations. 

Bottom line 

By incorporating call deflection into your toolkit and routinely monitoring its performance, you're not just simplifying customer interactions. You're also paving the way for unified customer service in your business and acknowledging the power of choice in customer interactions. 

If you are looking for smart solutions for your customer service requirement, try Sprinklr Service free of cost for full 30 days, and witness the results for yourself. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Call forwarding transfers calls to another number, while call deflection directs callers from voice to self-service options or alternative digital channels to seek quick solutions. 

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