Are you ready for the holiday season in which you know call volumes are going to spike? 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 get through the next spike smoothly.
1. Communication between teams
You should make sure there is consistent communication between your departments (support, marketing, sales, accounting, account management, etc.). Sometimes customers get provided with wrong information or information that is not needed, which generates more (not so nice) calls. 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 with all departments working together.
2. Expedite training for new & recent agents
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. If applicable within your business, have the reps become more dynamic and flexible, so more inquiries are handled and hold times decrease.
4. Identify top skills and route accordingly
The best way to reduce transfers that just take away time from agents and waste more time for your customers 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 a self-service IVR can handle? 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 shipments, or even make reservations. Maybe once you add a Self-Service IVR System, those seasonal call spikes won’t feel like calls spikes anymore.
Chatbots are another way to take a load off your agents when call volumes spike. Chatbots can handle common inquiries that your agents receive such as returns, billing inquiries, appointments, shipment statuses, product info and more. Better yet, chatbots can be implemented on Webchats, Facebook Messenger, SMS or WhatsApp.
7. SMS Blasting or Voice Blasting
SMS blasting or Voice Blasting are effective ways to let your customers know of any disruptions or delays during your busy season. This would effectively reduce incoming calls about any inconveniences and keep your customers up to date on what’s happening.
8. 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 10-20 minutes, they can continue with their day, and receive a call when the next agent is available. No need to worry, their place in the queue will be reserved. This should cut down frustration from your customers, and relieve some of the queues for your agents.
9. 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, your customers will end up being transferred or put on hold frequently, which won’t help to provide excellent customer experiences.
10. Analytics are 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 you’ll need. As they say, you can’t manage what you can’t measure!
11. Try Load Testing
Load testing is a sustained, structured load test, incorporating load scenarios and call volumes similar to the production work environment, using public telephony infrastructure that will ultimately see what your contact center can handle and point out issues that you may not have been aware of.
With our load testing service, you will receive detailed reporting based on outcomes such as the success or failure of each placed call, including failure reason if appropriate (Busy, No Answer, etc.), and any calls which are prematurely dropped by the far-end telephone system.
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!