Latest Contact Center Best Practices

Nov 24

6 Ways to Manage High Call Volume During the Holiday Season

Posted by Guillaume Seynhaeve on Nov 24, 2014 8:52:00 AM

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Consider the Following:

- 20-40% of yearly sales for small and mid-sized     retailers takes place during the last two months of the year
- 40% of consumers begin shopping before Halloween
- Black Friday sales are expected to top $2.4 Billion this year, representing 28% YoY growth

And what does a rise in holiday shopping generally mean for businesses?  More sales, obviously. But it also tends to imply an increase in call volume tied to clients inquiring about purchases, requesting additional support, making inquiries, and also submitting the occasional complaint. 

And while this may not be news, 69% of customers have stated they were on hold for too long, 67% have hung-up the phone when unable to reach a live representative, and an astounding 45% will abandon an online transaction if their questions are not quickly addressed. So, while the holiday season may be a peachy time for those shopping, it’s game time for those businesses who make or break their year based on how the season pans out.  Is your contact center up to par and ready to play when the calls come in and volume spikes?

Tackle the Holiday season with the following suggestions:

Gain Insights from Previous Years:  If you aren’t using last years data to plan for the present one you are already missing out on a simple way to make sure you have your turkeys (pun intended) lined up in a row when the volume hits.   And if it’s a simple matter of not having access to that data, than you should really consider upgrading to a solution that can give you that valuable insight. With insight into your contact center’s historical data, study previous trends, peak call times, and KPIs (customer satisfaction rating, call resolution, call abandonment, hold time) to help ensure staffing requirements and service levels are met when the holiday season hits.

Scale, Scale and Scale Some More:  The holiday period is a crazy time and no matter how well you prepare, that ‘crazy’ is likely to make its way into your call center—so you might as well expect the unexpected. Consider the benefits of a cloud contact center solution to easily scale your business up or down based on actual demand rather than best-estimates forecasting.  It will grant you the freedom and peace of mind to tackle whatever the holiday season throws your way while reducing up-front infrastructure costs and missed opportunities.

Consider Remote Hiring: According to CareerBuilder, 43% of retail companies hire additional employees for the holidays with customer service accounting for 40% of the open positions. Consider remote agents to help fill any staffing gaps you have when the holiday season comes along. It’s a great way to quickly meet changes in demand while also granting you the benefit of an expanded hiring pool to pick from beyond those available in your immediate geographical zip code. 

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Unify Your Business: 84% of customers report frustration when representatives fail to have access to the necessary information required to address their inquiry or issue. Avoid the holiday embarrassment and integrate the various data solutions powering of your business (CRM, WFM/WFO, Ticketing, etc.) with your contact center and give your reps a complete 360-degree of the customer. It will save you time, save you customers (maybe even gain you a few in the long-run), and set-up your representatives to succeed.

Change Processes to Meet Holiday Trends: During the holidays, customers tend to act a bit differently than perhaps during the shopping ‘off-season’. In fact, StellaService has found that on average 23% of shoppers will have product related questions while another 21% will have shipping and return policy questions.  Maybe it’s the Eggnog or the stress of forgetting to purchase a gift for the in-laws – whatever the reason, give your contact center the luxury of staying nimble and subscribe to a solution with an easily adjustable IVR menu, self-service tools, call routing, and dynamic scripting to stay ahead of the changes. 

Don't Just Focus on Phone Interactions: Email is the top holiday marketing channel for 55% of brands, mobile is expected to have an impact on 87% of all holiday purchases, and let’s not forget the impact of Social Media. So, take a closer look at your target audiences during the holiday season, evaluate their channel of choice, and cater your communications accordingly. A multichannel communications strategy could improve customer satisfaction, and your odds of making a sale, in addition to lightening your agents’ call volume load.






 

Topics: crm integration, multichannel call center, CRM, remote agents, scalability, self-service, kpis, at-home agents, IVR menu, IVR, high call volume, multichannel communications, business intelligence, workforce management, reporting and analytics

Guillaume Seynhaeve

Written by Guillaume Seynhaeve

Guillaume Seynhaeve is the VP of Marketing and Business Development at 3CLogic with over 10 years of experience in sales and customer service. In his role, he routinely shares best practices regarding how to marry technology and business processes to enhance the overall customer experience.