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Mastering the Art of Call Deflection Without Alienating Customers

Struggling with high call volumes in the card payments sector? Learn how to balance operational efficiency with customer happiness using smart call deflection strategies.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes 14 seconds
Want the TL;DR? Skip to the conclusion for the key take-away points.
Call deflection is managing incoming calls by directing them away from human agents to other channels or automated solutions


How do you manage high call volumes without making your customers feel like they're just another ticket number? This challenge is faced by customer support teams everywhere, but it takes on a whole new level of complexity in the card payments industry, where each customer interaction isn't just about solving problems—it's often about navigating sensitive financial and compliance issues as well.

You might be thinking, "Is it possible to deflect calls to more efficient channels without annoying my customers?" Good news: it absolutely is. And you don't have to choose between operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. This blog post is your roadmap to mastering the art of call deflection while keeping your customers not just satisfied, but genuinely happy to engage with your support channels.

If you're ready to transform your call deflection strategies from a necessary evil into a customer satisfaction powerhouse, keep reading.

Effective Strategies for Call Deflection: Pre-Call and On-Call

Next up, we'll go through some solid strategies that can help you handle calls more efficiently. This includes what you can do before a customer even dials your number, as well as tips for when they're already on the line.


Before your customer picks up the phone, there's a lot you can do to guide them toward the answers they need. In this section, we'll explore key pre-call strategies that can reduce incoming calls while enhancing the customer experience.

Valuable Self-Serve Resources

First up, it's crucial that you've got a robust set of self-serve resources so that customers won't need to call for every single query. This can include chatbots, a well-maintained knowledge base, online chat, email support, FAQ or even an online community (for example a forum) where your customers can help each other.

But the key here is maintenance. These resources need to be up-to-date and easy to navigate. If they're not, your customers will call anyway. Plus, they should be accessible across various devices and platforms to meet your customers where they are.

Customer Onboarding

When a customer first joins, that's your golden opportunity to set the stage for a smooth experience. Use this time to send them key information that can help them master your product or service quickly. This can be done through a series of welcome emails or even through social media channels. The goal is to teach them how to self-serve, reducing the need for them to reach out to your phone team with basic questions.

The "Contact Us" Page

Your website's "Contact Us" page isn't just a formality; it's a great asset for call deflection. Instead of immediately displaying your customer support phone number, consider leading with your self-service resources. Follow that up with alternative contact options like live chat, social media support, or even SMS-based assistance. The goal here is to steer customers toward quicker, more cost-effective text-based solutions before they opt for a phone call.

Proactive Communication

Last but not least, don't wait for a problem to escalate before you reach out to your customers. If you know there's going to be an outage or some maintenance work, let them know in advance. Use automated emails, SMS messaging, social media or website banners/pop-ups to keep them in the loop. Make sure to include when you expect the service to be back up and running.


Even when a customer has dialed in, there are smart ways to handle the call that benefit both you and the caller. In this section, we'll unpack some on-call strategies designed to streamline the conversation and guide the customer to a quick resolution.

Redirect to Website

One straightforward strategy is to use your IVR system to guide callers toward self-service options on your website. For example, your IVR could include a message like, "If you're looking for information on [specific topic], you can find answers on our website." This encourages customers to seek out the information they need without waiting for an agent, freeing up your support team for more complex issues.

Embed IVR with Relevant Info

Another effective approach is to populate your IVR with pre-recorded information that answers common questions. This could be details about your business hours, answers to frequently asked questions or anything that your customers regularly call about. The goal is to resolve simple queries right then and there, reducing the need for an agent to get involved.

To take it a step further, consider sending an SMS follow-up that includes a link to the relevant page on your website. This provides the customer with a quick and easy way to find the information they need, potentially resolving their issue without further assistance.

Human Touch When Needed

While automated systems and self-service options are great for efficiency, it's worth caveating that there are times when a human touch is not just preferred—it's essential. Whether it's a query that can't be answered through automated means, an emergency situation, or considerations for accessibility, it's crucial to make it easy for customers to connect with a live agent when needed.

Metrics That Matter

You've got your call deflection strategy in place, but how do you know it's actually working? In the card payments industry, where every interaction can impact your bottom line and compliance status, tracking the right metrics is crucial. Here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) that can provide valuable insights:

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
  • Why It Matters: CSAT measures how satisfied customers are with a specific interaction or overall service.
  • How to Use It: A dip in CSAT can be a red flag that your call deflection methods are causing frustration. Conversely, an increase could indicate a successful strategy.

First Contact Resolution (FCR)
  • Why It Matters: FCR tracks whether a customer's issue was resolved in a single interaction, be it a call, chat, or email.
  • How to Use It: High FCR rates often correlate with satisfied customers. If your FCR is low, it may mean your deflection methods are confusing or ineffective.

Average Handle Time (AHT)
  • Why It Matters: AHT measures the average time an agent spends handling a customer interaction.
  • How to Use It: While reducing AHT can cut costs, extremely low AHT might mean issues are being rushed and not fully resolved. Balance is key.

Deflection Rate
  • Why It Matters: This metric shows the percentage of calls that were successfully deflected to other channels.
  • How to Use It: A high deflection rate is good for reducing costs, but cross-reference with CSAT and FCR to ensure quality isn't being sacrificed.

By keeping an eye on these metrics, you can fine-tune your call deflection strategy to achieve the best of both worlds: operational efficiency and high customer satisfaction.

Remember, what gets measured gets managed, so choose your KPIs wisely and use them to continually refine your approach.

Real-World Success: How Curve Mastered Call Deflection

Curve faced a set of challenges not uncommon in the card payments world. They had to deal with a high volume of customer queries around the clock, some of which were urgent issues like fraud or lost and stolen cards. Initially, Curve outsourced their call centre to triage all customer calls, but this approach had its drawbacks. Not only was it expensive, but it also led to customer confusion and inconsistencies in communication.

The Transformation with Advanced Tech
By adopting an effective call deflection strategy, Curve was able to transform their customer support system. They cut down the number of callbacks required for simple but frequent questions by an impressive 20%. This allowed them to serve more than 60% of their customers asynchronously, meaning they could handle queries without real-time interaction, making their support system more efficient.

Tackling Urgent and Non-Urgent Queries
The technology enabled Curve to triage urgent queries based on the selected IVR option. For non-urgent queries, they could reliably collect context around customer questions before calling back. This approach removed their reliance on an outsourced provider, saving them more than £5000 a month.

Enhancing Customer Experience
One of the biggest game-changers was the ability to send customers a link to an FAQ page based on their IVR selection. This gave customers an opportunity to self-serve before receiving a callback, effectively reducing the volume of calls that needed to be handled by agents.

A Win-Win Situation
Liam Brady, CX Lead at Curve, sums it up best: "We were able to transform our customers’ journey over the phone without involving our engineering team. We created a significantly better customer experience and reduced the monthly cost. We’ve had a return on our Investment (ROI) of more than 65%."

Read the full case study here
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Your Action Plan: Steps to Implement Today

So, you've got the insights, and you understand the metrics. Now, what? It's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Here's a straightforward action plan you can start implementing today to master call deflection in the card payments industry.

Step 1: Audit Your Current System
  • What to Do: Take a close look at your existing IVR system, self-service options, and agent training programs.
  • Why: You need to know where you're starting from to measure improvement effectively.

Step 2: Map Out the Ideal Customer Journey
  • What to Do: Use a call journey builder to design a more intuitive and customer-friendly IVR experience.
  • Why: A well-designed call journey minimises customer and agent frustration and maximises the efficiency of your resources.

Step 3: Update Self-Service Resources
  • What to Do: Revamp your FAQs, chatbots, and self-service portals to make sure they’re up-to-date, user-friendly and relevant.
  • Why: Empowered self-service options can resolve issues quickly without requiring agent intervention.

Step 4: Train Your Agents
  • What to Do: Conduct training sessions focused on handling complex issues and compliance requirements specific to the card payments industry.
  • Why: Well-trained agents are crucial for those situations where a human touch is needed.

Step 5: Implement and Monitor
  • What to Do: Roll out your new call deflection strategies and keep a close eye on the metrics discussed earlier.
  • Why: Continuous monitoring allows you to tweak your strategies in real-time, ensuring optimal results.

Step 6: Gather Feedback
  • What to Do: Use customer surveys and agent feedback to gather insights into what's working and what's not. Do this for customers and agents.
  • Why: Direct feedback can provide valuable information that metrics alone might not reveal.

Step 7: Iterate and Improve
  • What to Do: Based on your metrics and feedback, make necessary adjustments to your call deflection strategies.
  • Why: Regular updates are key to keeping your CS effective and compliant.

Conclusion: The Take-Aways

  • The Three Pillars of Smart Call Deflection
  1. Intelligent Routing through IVR designed with innovative Call Journey Builder,
  2. Empowered self-service through FAQs and chatbots
  3. Human Touch for complex issues.
  • Metrics That Matter
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), First Contact Resolution (FCR), Average Handle Time (AHT), Deflection Rate, Agent Turnover Rate, and Compliance Adherence Rate. Use these metrics for continuous improvement.

  • Real-World Success: How Curve Mastered Call Deflection
Curve successfully implemented call deflection and cut down the number of callbacks required for simple but frequent questions by 20%. They also saved more than £5000 a month in outsourcing.

  • Your Action Plan: Steps to Implement Today
7-step action plan: audit your current system, use call journey builder, update self-service resources, train agents, implement and monitor, gather feedback, and iterate.

If you have any questions on how Cordless can help implement your call deflection strategy, feel free to get in touch, and book a 30-minute, free consultation with an expert.
Luba Chudnovets
Co-Founder and CEO