Contact Centre

How to Prepare Your Contact Centre for Busy Periods

When your contact centre is struggling to cope with above-average demand, everyone suffers. Your agents find it impossible to keep up, your service targets become unachievable and your customers find themselves waiting in a seemingly endless queue.

For many of us, there’s just no avoiding those busy periods, whether they’re the result of seasonal shifts in demand, marketing campaigns, or new promotions. But with a multi-channel contact centre and some careful planning, you can keep your performance and productivity at its best, even when demand dramatically increases.

Here is a short guide to preparing your contact centre for peak demand – without over-committing your resources.

Reduce the pressure on your phone lines

While voice remains a very popular way for customers to reach you, it’s a particularly resource-intensive means of communication. If you’re in a multi-channel contact centre environment, your first plan for busy periods should be how you will reduce the burden on your phone lines.

However, it’s not enough to give your customers a range of options to communicate through, it’s essential that the same standard of service is delivered through each channel. Achieving this is largely dependant on your contact centre software ability to aggregate channels and your investment in agent training. When incoming voice, SMS, web chat, and social media communications are all entering a single unified queue using a multi-channel contact centre platform, your agents can communicate via a range of different platforms, delivering a consistent level of service across each.

Route inbound calls and messages effectively

The faster you can connect a customer with an agent that is able to help, the sooner you can move on to the next customer in the list. As you’re preparing for a busy period, consider the strengths, weaknesses and expertise of each of your agents and use intelligent call routeing to handle calls and messages efficiently.

While agents may share common knowledge and processes, some may be more effective on certain platforms. Your multi-channel contact centre solution should enable you to weight agents so that customers are sent to the individual that is most likely to handle the call or message quickly and effectively.

Increase the pace of outbound calls

If you’re making outbound calls as part of your campaign, you may have no choice but to increase the number of calls agents make every hour. Automating your dialling with a dialler can increase agent productivity by up to 300%, but it’s vital that you strike the balance between high call volumes and Ofcom compliance.

Ideally, your dialler will allow you to choose from progressive or predictive dialling and also customise your outbound call settings in detail so you can accelerate dialling while remaining within defined drop call limits.

Automate CRM updates and follow-up

When your customers are waiting in queues, the last thing you want is your agents to be spending excess time on routine follow up and administration. You can automate a lot of this admin with CRM system integration.

Following a call, agents can disposition call outcomes to trigger flexible workflow automation. This could be anything from updating CRM records to sending collateral to the printer. As a result, your agents can maximise their talk time and focus all their attention on delivering the best customer service.

Encourage customer self-service

Another way to reduce the burden on your agents is to encourage self-service in any way that you can. When all your communication channels are tied together in the same system, you can:

  • Create automated responses to common questions on social media
  • Use IVR to let customers make payments without agent input
  • Tell customers how long they can expect to wait in a queue, then offer alternatives like using a different communication channel or requesting a callback that will be automatically dropped into your queue so it’s impossible to miss (see our eBook 'Never Miss a Callback’)

As a result, you can help a larger number of customers without any additional agent resources.

Increase your visibility in busy periods

The right reporting can help you to identify your typical busy periods so you can allocate resources in advance – or even give you insight into real-time performance so you can see how you’re coping with increased demand.

By monitoring key metrics including queue lengths and how long agents are spending on calls, you can constantly adjust to meet demand. When you can see your current performance – and exactly how busy you are – you can make informed decisions about how you allocate resources, which communication channels are under-used, and how to maintain the standard of service your customers deserve.

Find out how the Hostcomm multi-channel contact centre solution can help you cope with even the busiest periods.

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