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Call Deflection: Reduce Inbound Call Volume By 10% through Chat and Self-service channels

By Chatdesk Team
Strategies for reducing costs by up to 80% through increasing call deflection rate and managing high call volume by deflecting to self service, chat, chatbots

Most CX professionals have experienced the horror of a surge of calls from customers.  High call volume is stressful for their agent team because customers are frustrated and complain when they wait for too long.  High call volume leads to long wait times which are painful for customers and expensive for brands.  The average cost per call is 3 to 5 dollars because agents can only talk to one customer at a time.  According to Harris Interactive, 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent.

Angry customers give bad customer satisfaction scores in surveys like CSAT and NPS.  Annoyed customers don’t recommend your company to their friends.  Some customers may start to look for your competitors.

This is why the best CX managers monitor their wait times or hold times and look for ways to reduce inbound call volume.

For e-commerce retailers, most calls can be resolved faster through self-service customer interaction or chat based customer support. These channels typically have 90+ NPS scores. The cost of self-service or a virtual assistant is almost zero.  The average cost to resolve a ticket with web chat is around 1 dollar because agents can talk to multiple customers at the same time.

One of the top reasons customers call is because they find your phone number as the first result on Google Search. For many customers, their customer journey begins when they search for your phone number on Google when they need help


Example Google Result for Customer Service
Customers search for your phone number on Google when they need help

Unfortunately, marketers and CX professionals can’t control Google’s user experience.  However, they can control what happens when their customers call the contact center and go through their phone menu or IVR (Interactive Voice Response).  They can offer call deflection and reduce the number of calls that they receive.

What is Call Deflection?

Call deflection or IVR deflection is any mix of techniques to stop call center calls, manage high call volume, and reduce wait time by giving customers the option to switch to a faster channel, like self-help or chat.  It’s a critical part of any customer experience strategy and it's an easy way to start your digital transformation without watching webinars or reading through white papers.

According to Forrester research, Self-service and Chat tend to be  lower-cost channels, especially for quick questions like “where is my order?” Agents can help multiple customers at the same time on these channels; the conversations are fast.  As a result, customers are happier. Self service could also be a mobile app, real-time chatbot or virtual assistant or even basic FAQs from your knowledge management tools that explain your policies and processes.

Advantages of Increasing Call Deflection Rate

  1. Increased customer satisfaction with 90%+ Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter (NPS) scores
  2. Increases automated self service adoption and usage of your knowledge base
  3. Increases First Call Resolution or First Contact Resolution (FCR)
  4. ‍Reduces costs by up to 80% because messaging and self service channels are lower cost
  5. Reduces wait times and Average Handling Time (AHT)
  6. Reduces call backs and repeat calls
  7. Reduces call center attrition, absenteeism and turnover because customer service agents are happier when they handle less repetitive calls


Old Fashioned Call Deflection

The most common technique for call deflection is to pre-record a message about other channels that plays while customers are waiting on hold in your phone menu or IVR (Interactive Voice Response) menu. Have you heard this before?

Thanks for calling! Did you know you can also email us or chat with us on our website? Please hold for the next available operator...

This approach is out of date with customer needs in today’s world. Most people have smartphones where they access your chat and self-help channels. Why ask them to hang up and search (again) for a different channel? Instead, you can instantly send them a direct link to their preferred channel.


Call Deflection Strategies for Enhancing Customer Experience


Example of Review Which Mentions Customer Service
Online review from a customer who used the Call Deflection flow from Chatdesk Shift

Chatdesk Shift improves call deflection by automatically detecting if a call is coming from a cell phone and then automatically offers to send the caller a link to a faster digital channel via text message or self service. These messages are:

Call Deflection ROI and Savings
Chatdesk Shift delivers 10% Call Deflection Rate while lowering costs by up to 80% and increasing customer satisfaction


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Shift integrates with 40+ customer service and omnichannel IVR systems on the market such as Zendesk, Gorgias, Kustomer, Talkdesk, Five9, InContact, and More!

Chatdesk Shift also includes a free dashboard for easy call deflection measurement. It has advanced analytics about what happens after the phone calls are deflected to messaging and alternative service channels. For example, customer experience managers can use this data to identify which SMS conversations are taking a long time to resolve.  

Call Deflection Use Cases

Order Status

Some brands receive a large number of inbound calls about delivery and order status. One of our customers,  Living Spaces, ships furniture nationwide.  They have a self-serve tool on their website,  where their customers can check their order status. Living Spaces uses Chatdesk Shift to deflect some of their inbound calls to the self-help tool. When a customer calls the Living Spaces’s support number, their IVR phone system offers to send a link where their customers can check their order status.  Living Spaces also offers callers the option to shift to their virtual agent or chatbot (which we'll cover later in this article)

Returns and Exchanges

Other brands offer items where customers call a lot about returns.  This tends to occur among fashion and clothing brands, where customers order multiple items in various sizes so they can see how they fit.

As a result, returns and exchanges are one of their top call drivers.  Jaanuu, which offers medical scrubs, uses a self-service returns tool called Happy Returns.  It allows customers to set up their own returns and print their own return label.   Jaanuu uses Chatdesk Shift to send customers a text with a link to the webpage where customers can handle their returns by themselves.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jaanuu was flooded with inbound call volume because they were selling masks which were in high demand. Jaanuu effectively used Call Deflection to manage their call volume and enhance their customer experience.

Chat, SMS, Facebook, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Mobile App or Chatbots

Finally, some brands prefer to talk to their customers directly by chat, SMS, or social media.  These brands take a concierge or clienteling approach at scale. A good example of this is Thinx, which sells underwear for women for when they have their periods. As part of their customer engagement strategy around talking about periods, they want more interaction when their customers have problems. They use Chatdesk Shift to deflect inbound calls to SMS or chat, where they can talk to their customers quickly.


Call deflection is an essential part of any customer experience.  Chatdesk Shift enables brands of all types to deflect customer service calls to faster channels while improving their customer satisfaction.  The solution works with all leading IVR systems and consistently delivers happier, more loyal customers who are more likely to repeat purchases.

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