The holiday season — less than seven weeks away now — is almost always the busiest time of the year for contact centers. Call volume was up 41% in the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday last year as customers flooded phone lines with inquiries, requests, and complaints. This year will likely be the same, so contact center managers must prepare for the holiday rush. Follow these nine holiday contact center tips!
1. Train Contact Center Agents
Agents who joined your call center after the last holiday season might not know what to expect in the next couple of months. These employees might have to deal with increased workloads, complicated queries, and frustrated customers who can’t get through to your center.
With proper training, you can improve experiences for both agents and customers. Training will also reduce call duration times and unnecessary line transfers.
You might want to train contact center agents to:
- Use a script to speed up call times during busy holiday contact center periods. A good script will help agents navigate conversations and reduce errors that extend calls.
- Escalate complaint calls to the correct team member to improve the customer experience.
- Reflect your company’s values during each call. Your values might include accountability, respect, and customer service.
- Add notes to your CRM or contact center software during and after each call. That makes it easier for other agents to identify a customer’s needs.
- Upsell and cross-sell products to increase holiday contact center revenue.
2. Utilize Remote Employees
87% of contact center agents worked from home in 2021 — up from 19% in 2019. You can leverage this workforce during the upcoming holiday season by asking remote (and hybrid) agents to take on additional hours. That will help you manage high call volumes and answer every call that reaches your contact center.
You can also scale your workforce by hiring brand-new agents remotely. These potential employees can work in any location, freeing up space at your physical call center. Alternatively, make more room in your business by asking in-office employees to adopt a hybrid working model. Setting up a knowledge base or video-based training will help at-home agents navigate work challenges without contacting you.
3. Enhance Agent Experiences
An agent’s work experiences during the holiday season will likely influence their mood, motivation, and productivity. 74% of contact center agents are at risk of burnout, resulting in employees not performing their best or leaving your company when you need them most. There are several ways you can evaluate employee experiences:
- The Employee Net Promoter Score (or eNPS) is a way to measure how employees feel about their jobs and working for your company. Based on the Net Promotor Score, eNPS lets you identify employee satisfaction and loyalty. Contact center agents with a low score might be at risk of burnout or leaving your organization.
- Provide a way for employees to leave feedback about their job roles anonymously. For example, you could include a link to a private messaging system on your intranet pages.
- Allow agents to take breaks during periods of low call volume. Constantly talking to customers over the phone for hours can result in poor employee experiences.
4. Analyze Agent Scorecards
Agent scorecards can track employee performance during the holiday season, allowing you to identify problems that might affect call management outcomes. Scorecards measure key performance indicators in your call center and can allocate the right employees to the appropriate call queues and departments.
Analyzing scorecards will help you discover which agents need additional support and training and which agents can work independently. This information will streamline holiday call center operations and provide employees with the resources to do their jobs more effectively.
5. Incentives for Holiday Contact Center Agents
Incentives for agents during the holidays can vary but might include:
- Gift cards
- Free lunch
- Recognition and awards
- Financial bonuses
Research shows incentive programs can boost employee performance by up to 44% and motivate 66% of employees to stay at your call center. Incentivizing agents can also increase team collaboration.
6. Implement Gamification Dashboards
Gamification is a fun and interactive way to set milestones for agents during the holiday period. Gamification dashboards can motivate employees to reach daily, weekly, or monthly goals. You can install one of these dashboards in your call center and create an element of competition.
There are various KPIs you can track on gamification dashboards:
- Agents who upsell or cross-sell the most products within a period.
- Agents with the best average call times.
- Agents who answer calls in the quickest time.
7. Omnichannel Solutions for Self-Service
You can encourage customers to use alternative communication methods this holiday season and free up phone lines during busy periods. For example, chatbot technologies can answer basic customer service queries via a live messaging system. Alternatively, you can hire a small team of employees to answer emails remotely.
Remember to advertise your omnichannel communication solutions on your website. Customers might prefer to contact you via email, live chat, or social media than over the phone.
8. Leverage Technology Solutions
The right digital tools can reduce wasted agent time and create a better working environment. For example, automated dialers will help outbound teams reach the right contacts without manual work. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems provide agents with information about inbound callers before a call starts.
Another valuable technology is artificial intelligence (AI), which can route calls to the most experienced agents who can deal with a particular issue. AI can also help answer generic questions from customers and free up agent time.
Preparation is Key For Holiday Contact Centers
Call center managers should prepare for another holiday season by following the tips above. Investing in new technologies, hiring more agents, utilizing remote workers, using gamification, and tracking employee performance are just some ways to improve call management at this busy time of the year.