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Contact center team: peak season as a piece of cake


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. 

Contact center team: peak season as a piece of cake

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

During the peak season, there will be a great increase in ticket volume and inbound calls for a few weeks. Thus, employees have to prepare and be flexible to deal with as many cases as possible while maintaining a high-first resolution rate. In addition, customers expect the normal support flow as during an off-peak season. Companies often hire more agents to contact center staff or re-adjust their working hours. Increasing the workload puts agents at risk of burnout, and adding untrained workers to your business may lead to a poor SaaS customer support experience.

  • Customers Want Faster Delivery Times

Logistics procedures need to be enhanced more than ever to satisfy customer expectations for quicker speed. It is a challenge that affects companies of all sizes as they compete with one another to remain ahead in delivery terms during peak season. However, most small businesses do not have the resources or economies of scale that firms like Amazon possess to provide rapid and free shipping on products. According to logistics constraints management, 61% of respondents expect customer expectations to be greater this peak season than last year. Thus, companies should think about the issue of shipping as they get ready for the busy holiday season and develop a strategy for perfect performance.

  • Lack of Time to Review and Correct the Mistakes

Another major issue for contact centers during a peak season is running out of time. During the busiest times of the year, companies need as much time and resources as possible. In addition, customer support representatives will be under increased pressure to handle the peak season logistics and correct customers’ mistakes efficiently as new data grows. As a result, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system should be used by all businesses. With the right CRM system, the contact center team can maintain consistency while reducing the number of costly fulfillment mistakes.

  • Demotivated Remote Contact Center Agents

Remote call centers are usually beneficial to business agents as they have flexible working hours, more time to spend with family, and don’t have to worry about commuting costs. However, it can be difficult for company management to ensure employees provide customers with high-quality support. There may be limited technology resources available to agents and poor Internet connection at home. The craziness that comes over the holidays may also lead to emotional distress. Thus, companies implement mental health strategies after hiring contact center agents to prepare them for a peak season. 

Contact center team: peak season as a piece of cake

Top Ways How Call Centers Can Cope With Peak Seasons 

  • Forecasting

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.

  • Staffing

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. 

  • Technology

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.

Conclusion

Peak periods are usually very demanding for in-house contact centers because contact center staff cooperates with the company permanently, and such dynamic workload spikes are stressful for them. Thus, call center agents often can not manage the pressure and burnout. On the other hand, businesses always have the option to turn to an outsourced contact center and prepare effectively for the peak season. For instance, the core strategies to make a success of peak seasons include implementing predictive analytics and customer interaction solutions, hiring seasonal agents, and training their calling capabilities. 

If you’re looking for outsourcing customer support for a peak season – book a 30-minute call with WOW 24-7 and our team will advise you on where to start.

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