The peak season is a double-edged matter for a contact center. On the one hand, revenues typically increase. Yet the tremendous uprise in customer inquiries can be overwhelming for company agents. Peak times during the holiday season can lead to high call volume, long waiting times, and an issue of communication being generated via chat and email. According to GetMindful statistics, the contact center team usually categorizes a peak time as a 40% or greater increase over the regular number of requests. Thus, it makes sense that contact center staff excelling through the holidays are those that are well-prepared long before the customers begin placing orders. Read on to find the best strategies to prepare your contact center for a peak season and maintain a positive customer experience.
What are the peak seasons for contact centers?
What is the holiday season?
While November 1 marks the official start of the holiday season, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas are the biggest reasons for the contact center peak season. Despite high call volumes, customers expect personalized, quick, and accurate customer service outsourcing with instant answers to their queries. The ability to manage business tickets efficiently during the holiday season affects customer satisfaction, as peak customer service experience plays a crucial role in overall brand perception. Customer support scalability is one of the main challenges faced by seasonal businesses each peak season. A low season can be used to plan activities for the upcoming high-demand period and optimize all the resources. It’s vital to ensure top-notch customer experience, even in high-demand seasons, and businesses should make sure that their customer support resources are well-prepared for it.
How contact centers of various companies usually experience peak season
- Increase in Workload
- Customers Want Faster Delivery Times
- Lack of Time to Review and Correct the Mistakes
- Demotivated Remote Contact Center Agents
Top ways how call centers can cope with peak seasons
Knowing how to prepare for peak times effectively requires reviewing historical data from past years and implementing predictive analytics and industry projections. Having seasonal staff for handling calls, monitoring communication channels, and managing other contact center functions requires a careful review to be able to plan and staff accordingly. Upgrading your phone system recordings should also happen ahead of the busy holiday season. Could you promote a seasonal sale in your on-hold messaging? Have you introduced new channel customers can use to get support faster? You can effectively provide this information in your system’s IVR or during on-hold messages. Moreover, before stepping into a high-demand season, it’s important to review and re-organize email and chat templates, call scripts, and FAQs on the website. Remove irrelevant content and provide the most up-to-date information both to support members and customers.
With a careful analysis of your data, the company should be able to determine how many more employees it will need before peak season hits. Don’t wait until the last minute to hire seasonal agents. Even the highest quality agents need training and time to get used to high call volumes. The best approach for a smooth staffing process is to match team new hires with your most experienced team members. By watching those who are entirely comfortable with the system, agents can quickly learn how to accomplish their required tasks effectively.
Moreover, many talented people pick up part-time work during summer or as the end of the year approaches, so many companies turn to this talent source to help fill seasonal staffing needs. For instance, you could employ retirees and stay-at-home moms with school-aged kids—those interested in making extra money via temporary jobs—to assist your busy call center during the holiday season. Also, consider reaching out to former agents who may have moved on to new opportunities. They already know how your contact center works and likely will require less onboarding than completely new agents.
- Flexible Work Schedule
If you can give your existing agents more flexibility, you might find that you don’t need to recruit and train as many seasonal agents. That’s because giving your current agents the power to choose additional flexibility perks — additional time off or extra hours during the holiday season — can positively impact and increase their engagement level, lower absenteeism, and increase adherence levels. They’ll work more hours, decreasing the number of hours you need to fill with seasonal workers. Thus, having the right set of WFM (workforce management) scheduling tools help create schedules that ensure the contact center is staffed appropriately while giving agents the flexibility to select their desired shifts.
Most companies integrate a few new tools to improve the peak customer service. For example, a callback feature can reduce hold times by giving customers the option to receive an outbound call in the same amount of time they’d wait on hold. Moreover, call center analytics such as the average on-hold time, handle time, and the number of dropped calls determine whether peak season planning is effective. Some of the most advanced solutions can enable contact center managers to analyze voice conversations and emotions to understand customer behaviors.
In addition, it should be easy for customers to reach you from anywhere at any time. Therefore, it’s crucial not only to manage analytics but add a live chat widget on the company’s website and create a chatbot that will reply to most popular user inquiries almost instantly. Social media has great power nowadays, and a strong online presence on Facebook and Instagram will add a seasonal business some vital points in the eyes of the customers.