The holiday season may mean downtime for many, but it is often one of the busiest times of the year for call centres and their agents.
Fortunately, it is also a time when businesses see an uptick in their revenues—often a big one—and it’s vital to capitalise on it.
The question is, is your call centre holiday season-proof?
These are some typical concerns: how does your call centre handle the sudden increase in inbound calls? What sorts of queries can you expect to receive during the holiday season? How can you prepare better for them? Also, won’t some of your employees be taking a leave?
So, how do you deal with all of these issues?
There are several things you ought to keep in mind to make sure your call centre is holiday-season proof.
One place to start is—awareness of the latest customer shopping trends.
It’s also wise to anticipate the rush before it’s upon you.
Needless to say, the holiday season means longer call queues and hold times, more comments on social media channels, and increased communication via chat and email.
Generally, a call volume of 40% or more over the norm is considered peak time. By this criteria, the holiday season is definitely peak time for a cloud call centre.
According to some studies, a few of the main reasons customers contact call centres in the holiday season are returns and exchanges, delivery status concerns, billing-related issues, and cancellations.
Call centres need to be geared for that and more.
Most importantly, train your call centre agents and ensure your virtual call centre software is equipped to handle high call volumes.
A variety of call centre solutions can come to your rescue, and with the right virtual call centre software, you should sail right through the holiday season.
Some tips that can help you deal with the seasonal spikes at your contact centre include:
#1. Know your customer
Virtual call centre software, like a good customer relationship management (CRM) system, can prove to be a boon in the holiday season.
By integrating your customer data with a CRM, you can quickly make sense of the information at your disposal. Once you better understand your customer, you can offer them personalised products and services.
Additionally, you can anticipate their consumption patterns in the holiday season. This will help you figure out the right call centre solutions to handle the rush.
#2. Harness the power of cloud call centre staffing
With a cloud call centre, it’s easy to scale up and down your operations according to your business requirements. This helps you address the surge in demand during the festive season.
With cloud telephony providers like Servetel, you can swiftly onboard additional call centre agents at very competitive prices. This is one of the best features to be leveraged by a cloud call centre.
#3. Queued call-back
A cloud call centre typically gets overwhelmed during the festive season, and wait times go up. Callers may abandon the call in frustration, and you can end up losing a quality lead.
Call centre solutions like queued call-back can come to your rescue in such scenarios. All you have to do is set up a call-back prompt in the interactive voice response (IVR) system.
Instead of waiting for an agent, customers can opt for the call-back option and be redialled once an agent is available.
By giving customers the choice of scheduling a call-back, you not only save their precious time but also break the cycle of abandoned calls, frustrated customers, and long wait times.
They can carry on with their life, and agents can address customer queries whenever free, resulting in more effective agent scheduling.
This also leads to happier and more satisfied customers as well as employees. Indeed a win-win for both the customer and the cloud call centre!
#4. Train call centre agents for the holiday season
Besides preparing for the holiday rush, call centre agents must be well versed with the promotions and schemes you are running for the holiday season.
Additionally, since many calls may have to do with returns, call centre agents must be sensitised to handling such queries. In this regard, it’s best to adopt a customer-first, no-questions-asked approach whenever possible.
Do have a fair return policy in place and make sure the agents know it inside out.
#5. Quality monitoring in a cloud call centre
It is likely that you monitor your calls for quality regularly, but you need to pay extra attention during the peak season.
A top-notch call recording system is just the call centre solution that you need!
A cloud call centre enables you to access recorded calls from anywhere anytime, and analyse them. This, in turn, helps you ascertain whether your targets for the festive season are fulfilled or not.
You can also identify problem areas and fix them quickly. Apart from metrics like call waiting times, first call resolution rate, and call handling time—speech analytics is another valuable tool for virtual call centres.
Speech analytics software searches for specific keywords such as ‘cancel’ and prompts the call centre agent to offer a discount to retain the customer. This is especially useful when there is a heavy inflow of calls.
#6. Good IVR for smart routing of calls
An excellent IVR system is always a good idea and it becomes even more helpful during the holidays.
It lets you route calls to an appropriate agent swiftly and deliver enhanced customer experiences.
Often, a lot of queries (for instance, the status of your customer’s order) can be resolved via IVR, leaving the already stressed call centre agents to deal with more complex queries.
Since wait times during the holidays are typically higher, a good idea would be to use the on-hold custom messages to promote a seasonal sale or a special offer. Thus, it is crucial to ensure that the IVR has been updated and is in sync with your seasonal festive offerings.
#7. Barge to take control of the call
Call barging is another nifty call centre solution that can come in handy during the holiday season. It allows you to listen in on calls and take over if the agent is unable to handle the issue effectively.
You can also prompt and advise the agent without the customer being able to hear anything.
#8. Forecasting demand with analytics
Festive shopping often begins long before the holidays kick in. Therefore, it’s best to be prepared.
A good CRM will help you gather customer data and predict call volumes. You can base the forecast on data from previous years.
However, this should not be call details alone but also include queries and traffic on social media channels. Looking at comprehensive data will help you deploy agents for both live calls and social media channels appropriately.
It’s also a good idea to get the thoughts of the agents themselves. They are most likely to be aware of the potential hurdles that can come up in the holiday season.
#9. CRM should be your go-to call centre solution
A good CRM system can transform how you function and elevate customer experiences without costing you a bomb.
It will also make the life of your agents easier, especially in the holiday season.
Once customer data is synced with a CRM, agents are able to access customer insights. These insights help them pitch the right products and services to your customers.
What’s more—information such as call logs, past purchases, details of the last call, etc., is easily accessible via a single screen. It aids the agents to carry the conversation forward and personalise to best suit the needs of the customer.
Even if your agents don’t achieve first call resolution, callers are likely to go away satisfied that their concerns will be addressed in due course.
#10. Offer omnichannel support
Since your call centre is likely to be overwhelmed during the holiday season, it’s a smart move to offer omnichannel support to your customers.
Make sure that you deliver consistent and high-quality customer experiences across all channels. If your channels are in sync, then a returning customer can pick up the conversation from where they left off instead of having to start over.
Call centre solutions like CRMs are of extreme help here. They help agents take call notes and quickly access across platforms, resulting in contextual conversations.
Moreover, a successful resolution on social media helps promote your image of being a customer-friendly organisation.
#11. Special marketing efforts for the holiday season
The holidays are a great time for festive offers like special deals and discounts, provided you plan your promotions well in advance. Needless to say, it is wise to spread the word early on.
In fact, advance planning and marketing help you draw the right kind of customer in the festive season.
Since your call centre will be anticipating this increase in demand, it will be better prepared to field it. Ensure your representatives are properly briefed on the product range and all the special deals.
They should also have rehearsed the right scripts for the holiday season. Taking such appropriate measures will definitely result in increased revenue.
Let’s not forget, it’s the holidays. Be prepared for the unexpected.
No matter how ready you and your cloud call centre are, something out of the box may just pop up.
However, you can weather the high volume of calls and impatient customers with the right call center solutions.
Some key learnings:
- Invest in a good CRM
- Keep your IVR updated with seasonal offerings
- With a cloud call centre, don’t hesitate to scale up for the holidays
- The world is increasingly virtual, and omnichannel support is of the essence
- Forewarned is forearmed, so forecast the demand
- Prepare your agents mentally for the festive season
- Adopt a customer-first approach, and you will never go wrong
If you are well prepared, the holiday season will give you great returns, and you will ride out the glitches smoothly.
Looking for a reliable service provider, do check Servetel Communications and their personalised offerings. Contact us at 1800-120-4132