The Mysterious Gotcha Every Call Center Manager Needs to Know

I had to call Shaun quickly today. I got Peter. Peter was at Peter's desk, Shaun was at Shaun's. We have great a great PBX built in to our call center software. Still, something must be misconfigured, right? Cue the Keystone Kops as we run around trying to find where the system is broken.

We've seen similar issues in the past. The worst instances are when you've seemingly violated a Do Not Call (DNC) or time of day cold calling rule. When somebody gets called at 6:30 in the morning, they're mad. When somebody gets called and they're already on the National DNC list, they're threatening a lawsuit.

There's one situation that the best DNC blocking software can't detect. Your time of day dialing rules can't avoid. And it's the same thing that got me (and Peter) when I tried to call Shaun:

Call forwarding.

In this case, Shaun had accidentally pressed the Call Forwarding button on his phone instead of redial when he was trying to call Peter earlier. Investigation of time of day and DNC hits have also found that a lot more people do call forwarding than you think. Common reasons for people to have a permanent call forward up are:

  • They move around a lot. They might have a phone somewhere that forwards to their cellphone, or vice versa. This comes up a lot with the military.
  • They're on vacation. The home phone is forwarded to their current location.
  • They forwarded it awhile ago, and forgot about it.
  • The number was forwarded a long time ago, and now somebody new has the number.

Sometimes you can detect these situations right away by verifying the number that you dialed with the call recipient. Often a quick explanation that you dialed another number is enough to calm the situation.

In the call center, it can be harder to diagnose because there are so many things to look at. We had eliminated a number of things as possibilities before we were  able to isolate a particular device as the culprit. Shaun's softphone was taking calls correctly, but his Cisco desk phone had the call forwarding button. Call center phones can be complex devices, and agents may not know everything they're capable of. Accidental call forwarding and setting Do Not Disturb (DND) are two common causes of hard to diagnose, easy to solve problems.