Are you ready for the holiday season? In most industries, that’s a loaded question, with the holidays often signifying spikes in sales activity and customer interaction, both of which can offer enormous challenges for the unprepared.
Dropped calls, unsatisfactory resolutions and hour-long call waiting times: For unprepared contact center managers, the holiday season can conjure up nightmare scenarios. Huge sales are in play. Lifelong customers are on the phone. Your brand is on the line.
There’s no question: Ensuring optimum holiday season call center management is essential to your bottom line. With the holidays right around the corner, then, here’s a quick rundown of the most important checkmarks on your holiday season call center management checklist.
As with any aspect of business, when it comes to holiday call center management, preparation is key. The best approach to call center management in general is to constantly collect data and apply analytics to improve best practices. The holiday season is no exception. Have you crunched your holiday season data—hold times, resolutions, peak hours—and really gotten to know when to expect spikes and shifts over the holiday season? If not, there’s no better time to start.
Whatever training your call center staff undergoes should include specific guidance for the unique aspects of the holiday season. Some of these factors are universal, such as dealing with the stress of increased calls. But many others will be specific to your company, having to do with addressing the particulars of your customer experience during periods of high utilization.
Burnout can be high during the holidays, and the standard shifts that work great during slower times might not cut it. Consider reducing shift times, or adjusting the time between them, to give your agents breathers to cope with the high volumes. Again, the sooner you begin monitoring past trends, the better you’ll understand what shift scenarios will help you ensure the smoothest possible customer experience.
Nobody’s surprised to learn that holiday seasons—and the spikes in activity that go along with them—are a time of increased absenteeism among call center employees. No matter what time of year it is, the time is now to put in place a yearlong plan to fight seasonal absenteeism. It should include appreciation and incentive programs, team outings and the assurance of ample time off in the off season, among other best practices.
During times of high utilization and absenteeism, just one sick day can cause a crisis—a crisis that will resonate for a lifetime in the minds of your customers. It’s imperative to have backup call center agents ready to step in to cover for absent teammates. And we’re not talking about last-minute temps, here: Backup agents on your bench should be every bit as trained and raring to go as your starting lineup.
From app development and new social channels to customer outreach methods and lead generation tools, each year brings with it new technological tools to reach customers and grow sales. And, while no business can truly be expected to keep up with every new innovation—at least, businesses that aren’t customer care specialists—failing to do so does pose the risk of losing out to a more media-savvy competitor.
The holiday season can put a tremendous strain on your infrastructure, physical and virtual. In terms of order processing and fulfillment, you may have everything covered for the spikes in web traffic and online ordering from your ginormous Black Friday sale. But are you double-sure all those new customers won’t exceed the bandwidth limits set by your web service provider? There are few more final ways to lose a customer than when they find a crashed website where they expected an amazing sale.
As everyone knows, the ever-increasing size of today’s holiday mega-sales means a concurrent increase in the post-holiday hangover—such as return season, when folks try to unload some of their less-cherished gifts. And with the rise of online sales, the return process has become a muddier one. So, agents should be prepared to deal with potentially frustrated customers looking for quick answers to complicated questions.
If you can’t answer all of these questions in the affirmative—and if just considering them makes your head swim—it may be time to call in the experts. An industry leader such as Working Solutions prides itself on providing clients with full-service, turnkey contact center solutions to meet every specific challenge of the customer experience, and then some.
Bottom line? To be truly confident of your call center management, trust the process to the experts.