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Voice calls surge as New Zealand enters lockdown

New Zealand networks recorded the highest volume of voice calls in history this week. They peaked on Tuesday.

This followed Prime Minister Jacinda Arden raising the Covid-19 alert level from two to four. The country began a four-week lockdown.

All carriers experienced congestion. Callers overloaded government call centres with enquiries. The congestion affected the three mobile networks and Spark’s landline calling network.

Voice calls high volumes

A Spark spokesperson says: “Following the prime minister’s Covid-19 announcement today, telecommunications providers experienced call volumes beyond any level of calling ever seen in New Zealand. This is creating significant congestion for voice calling at an industry-wide level.”

The TCF spoke for the industry saying telecommunications companies were working quickly and collaboratively to fix congestion issues.

Carriers called on phone users to switch to digital technologies using the nation’s fibre network to free up voice lines.

Customer services struggling

Customer service teams struggled to cope. In part operators closed their overseas call centres or are running them at a reduced level to protect staff from infection risks. There were also much high call volumes.

Vodafone asked customers to use the company’s mobile app, chatbot and website where possible. This would reduce the load on call centre staff. The company asked customers to contact the company’s social media team which extended their hour to cope with the extra demand.

The company says: “Due to precautionary measures in New Zealand and internationally, our customer care teams are managing the impacts of Covid-19 while dealing with higher call volumes.

“We have major call centres in different offices in New Zealand and India, and a small specialist customer care team in the Philippines. While we’re able to redirect work and calls for some customers between them. We are also planning for future impacts including what we can expect will be further increased restrictions on movement in cities worldwide.”