The holidays are important times of the year that contact centers need to gear up for. During these times, sudden spikes in calls commonly are to be expected, mostly from customers calling in to make last-minute purchases or inquiries and concerns about the products they’ve already bought. At the same time, the holidays can be quite challenging for contact centers, as their employees will most likely be on a constant battle for utmost productivity against the generally festive and vacation vibe this season brings.
Many call center agents may not exactly be giving their best efforts, with their minds already wandering off to some holiday party or dinner they could running off to after work. As a result, the company’s customer service quality may suffer. Here are a few tips make sure that this doesn’t happen.
1. Prepare early
Companies must make preparations months ahead to survive the holiday rush unscathed. They must forecast call volumes accurately by studying previous year’s data and determine what times of the busy season are most critical. This will be vital in ensuring that there’s enough agents on the production floor during these times.
During this time, the in-house IT division must also ensure that all hardware and software solutions in the contact center are in tip-top shape to prevent any technical difficulties from affecting calls. You may also want to check if Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems are optimized. For instance, voice prompts must be short and clear so callers would receive customer support efficiently without being mistakenly routed to the wrong department.
2. Make necessary adjustments to metrics
One of the important metrics that gauge the performance of contact center agents is First Contact Resolution (FCR), and the holidays are one of the best times to improve one’s FCR scores. With agents successfully resolving concerns during the first call, they’d have more time to attend to more customers. It can also help reduce agents’ Average Handling Time (AHT) scores, which can help them pass their performance reviews. When done consistently, this helps improve customer experience, elevating the company’s reputation as a support provider and encourages customer loyalty.
If it can’t be avoided, such as for concerns that require a lengthy amount of time to resolve, agents can offer to call back at a time that’s convenient for the customer to continue the discussion. This lets the agent easily move on to the next caller and help alleviate a clogged support hotline.
3. Spread the holiday cheer
It is, after all, the holidays so don’t forget to spread some holiday cheer in the workplace. Understand that agents are pushing to work hard and help every customer that they can, so they may need some form of reprieve that their regular 15-minute breaks and lunch hours can’t provide. For starters, be sure to acknowledge their efforts and let them know that you appreciate the work that they do. If you have the budget (or if you’re just feeling particularly generous), why not hand out thank you notes and small tokens of appreciation to your agents?
Perhaps a potluck, or a small holiday decorating competition within your team would be great. These small activities at the office will work wonders in lifting their spirits despite the stressful holiday work shifts. Spreading the holiday vibe among employees helps in spreading this vibe as well to customers over the phone.