Hurricane Harvey a Perfect Scenario for Call Center Scheduling for Unexpected Demand
When natural disasters, such as what’s happening in Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey, occur, the capacity of local, state, and even national resources is put to a test to provide immediate assistance to residents. If you’ve turned on the news for even a few minutes lately, you’re aware of the massive efforts to ensure the safety of residents in southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana, where unprecedented rainfall has caused record flooding and damage.
For days, networks have been showing footage of rescue personnel working side-by-side with local boat owners as they delivered stranded people and pets to safety. That, unfortunately, is only the beginning – the nation has witnessed other extremely damaging hurricanes in recent history – Katrina in August of 2005 also in the Gulf Coast region, and Sandy on the Atlantic coastline in 2012. We know the recovery for Houston and the rest of the region will be long and costly – it’s fair to say New Orleans only recently fully recovered from Katrina. Fortunately, countless businesses and individuals have already pledged their assistance, from tech and phone companies who are eliminating fees and/or calling limits on plans for impacted customers, to other vendors shipping truckloads of food, water, and supplies to the region.
Customer service organizations in various industries – emergency services, insurance, healthcare, utilities, and many other services – are also going to be put to the test for months to come, as residents and businesses deal with the damages. Many call centers have already set up additional facilities and agents to help with the increased demand, but much more is likely to be needed. The last thing any company wants is to make customers have to wait in queue for longer than is absolutely necessary.
That requires not only additional technology, for which cloud-based communications and call center platforms are absolutely ideal – they allow remote and home-based agents to be set up in minutes – but also the ability to bring on additional staffing to handle the call volumes.
Most call centers have lists of temporary or seasonal agents they can call upon for assistance and who have some experience in the function, making it easier to integrate them into the flow. These temporary agents, who will be able to offer varying amounts of time each day, will also need to be integrated into call center schedules to ensure call flows can be handled with minimal wait times. That includes ensuring an intelligent distribution of skill sets to handle various types of calls and customers.
Workforce management and call center scheduling software can be a tremendous help, especially when dealing with remote and home-based agents, and varying schedules to accommodate 24-hour coverage needs.
Even with all these elements in place, the recovery process will be slow and painful. The hope for any business or service looking to help is they can make is just a bit easier by providing access to the right resources quickly and help the process move forward positively.
Edited by Erik Linask