Call Center Countdown to Christmas - Preparing for the Rush
September 10, 2012
By Susan J. Campbell
, TMCnet Contributing Editor
The countdown has officially begun. With just about 100 days until Christmas, businesses everywhere are gearing up for the busiest, most profitable time of the year. Successfully navigating the Christmas season requires months of careful preparation and consideration – particularly for the call center, whose business is especially sensitive to fluctuations brought on by holiday demand.
Mitch Lieberman, Sword Ciboodle’s (News - Alert) Marketing VP, calls the months leading up to Christmastime the “coordination period.” This is the call center’s time to prepare its plan of attack. Without a doubt, though, things will pop up that weren’t part of the original plan, according to this Software Advice article. The holiday frenzy demands collaboration – a time when all teams work together to find workable resolutions to unforeseen issues. It’s about seeing how well your departments work under pressure.
Christmas can certainly be a joyous time, but it can also be a very stressful and trying time as well. Workers in a virtual call center collecting payments for unmet utility bills, for instance, may not enjoy coming into work the Monday after Thanksgiving. Inevitably, there will always be those who get their power shut off right before or in the middle of preparing a big family dinner. Having a plan as to how your agents cope with floods of disgruntled callers is essential. While it won’t prevent spikes, it will help manage them.
Call center holiday season preparation is nothing new, and has been an on-going process. Call center management needs to prepare in advance for increased call volumes, and that probably means hiring additional workers. Seasonal help can aid in processing overflow, and it might be best to train them on the basics and have the more complicated issues forwarded to veteran reps. Finding a balance that utilizes both full and part-time employees will not only save money, but also yield better customer service.
Lest we forget, the most important call center consideration should be enhancing the customer experience. While ensuring customer satisfaction is not just reserved for the holidays, it is especially important during this time of year. Giving bad service during the Christmas season could irrevocably tarnish a company’s image – especially if dissatisfied customers vent by social media to all their friends and followers.
A very important lesson can be taken from this; measuring customer satisfaction during the busiest time of year will really provide insight into how well your support team is functioning. After the holidays have come and gone, it’s a good idea to poll random customers to find out more about their virtual call center experience. Were their expectations met? What could be done better?
The holiday season will be the true test of how well your call center runs; therefore, it’s a good time to examine all aspects of the call resolution process to find out what’s working well and what isn’t. The benefit of identifying points of weakness in December is that improvements can be made for a fresh start in the New Year.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo