Are you ready for that anticipated holiday season in which you know call volumes are going to spike to record-setting numbers? We know these times can be stressful, for you, your agents, and your customers. It’s crucial to prepare for seasonal call volume spikes to prevent dissatisfied customers, bad reviews, and frustrated agents. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably experienced some holiday seasons where things didn’t go as smoothly as you’d like, and you’re looking to prepare for the next storm. Keep these following points in mind, and we’re confident you will sail through the next spike with ease.
1. Communication between teams
First off, you should make sure there is proper communication between your departments (support, marketing, sales, accounting, account management, etc.). Nothing is worse than a customer being provided with wrong information, or not being provided information that is needed, generating more calls (and they won’t be nice calls as you know). Set general meetings with your departments allowing them to communicate any updates or changes. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and in the know. In other words, the corporate engine is well oiled and running smoothly with all parts working together.
2. Expedite training for new & recent employees
You most likely have some agents that are new and agents that will be coming on board soon, or you may even have some outsourced agents on standby. Focus your efforts to have these agents trained well and quickly so that they fully understand the products and procedures. This may require a new comprehensive training program that they would need to complete and be tested on. When the calls come in at alarming rates, chances are that they will encounter a multitude of different requests and questions. To prevent excessive transfers, callbacks, and long hold times during seasonal call volume spikes, you will need agents that will hastily answer the questions and deal with the requests on the first call.
Another option worth considering is training reps to specialize in a different product line or department. When the calls come in, they probably won’t be spread evenly across departments or products, so if applicable within your business, have the reps become more dynamic and flexible, so more inquiries are handled and hold times decrease.
4. Identify your agent’s tops skills and route accordingly
The best way to reduce transfers that just take away time from agents is to have the calls routed correctly the first time. Using an Intelligent IVR System will ensure the calls hit the correct agent that has the resources to handle and resolve the call. This is especially important when the calls spike, since the transfers will add up to a lot of wasted time.
5. Start building a self-service IVR
Why have agents take requests that can be handled by a self-service IVR? This could cut down the amount of calls agents have to answer by a significant amount during those seasonal call volume spikes, since simple requests won’t require an agent’s time, allowing them to handle more complex calls. Self-service IVR systems can be used to make account changes, check account information, pay bills, track shipping, or even make reservations. Maybe once you add a Self-Service IVR System, those seasonal call spikes won’t feel like calls spikes anymore.
6. Queue callback
A Queue Callback System gives your caller the option to receive a call back from an agent on their preferred number when the call volumes are high. So instead of being placed on hold for 5-10 minutes, they can continue with their day, and receive a call in a short amount of time. This should cut down frustration from your customers, and relieve some of the queues for your agents.
7. Outsource agents
You may have done this already, but outsourcing agents will give you the extra boost for handling seasonal call volume spikes. The key here is to have them trained just as well as your full-time agents. If they’re only partially trained, callers will end up being transferred or put on hold frequently, which won’t add much benefit to your initiative.
8. Analytics is key
In order to make sure you’re fully prepared, it’s always best to take a look at your previous holiday analytics to see things like the number of incoming calls, avg. hold times, transfer rates, avg. call handle time and more, then align the necessary resources that you’ll need. As they say, you can’t manage what you can’t measure!
We hope this blog sparked some new action items for you or maybe even gave you an idea for something else you could do to prepare for those seasonal call volume spikes. Spread the knowledge to help others in the industry, and comment below!