Increased holiday call volume will undoubtedly put more stress on your employees. You could hire and train more people before the holidays, but that could stretch your operating budget pretty thin. Instead, utilize SMS and email to reduce phone calls. With SMS and email your call center doesn’t have to handle every request by phone, increasing each agent’s productivity.
Not Every Issue Needs a One-on-One Phone Conversation
You can start planning your SMS and email planning by deciding which tasks don’t need one-on-one phone conversations. You can then find more appropriate ways to handle those requests, optimizing the way you handle high call volumes.
Email Appeals to Some Customers and Takes Pressure Off Your Call Center
Many customers prefer communicating via email when they:
- Need a form or document sent to them.
- Have an issue that doesn’t count as an emergency.
- Want to share details about a product, service, or experience.
Post an email address or contact form on your customer service page. Plenty of your customers will choose email over talking to a call center agent.
Your call center will benefit from:
- Using automated responses to certain types of emails.
- Creating an email trail that helps ensure customers get the services they need.
- Giving employees the chance to respond in batches.
SMS Gives an Option to Phone-Adverse Customers
You can also give customers an option to contact you by SMS (text messaging). Young people often dislike talking on the phone. One study shows that 68% of millennials text daily. About 47% of Gen X texts daily.
Customers find SMS an appealing option when they:
- Are too busy to have a phone conversation.
- Are in a location where they cannot have a phone conversation.
- Don’t want to get lost in a phone tree.
- Simply don’t feel like talking to a live person on the phone.
You will, of course, need employees to process requests that come through SMS.
Agents that work well with text messaging tend to:
- Feel comfortable using apps that automate common responses.
- Know how to communicate without using a lot of words.
- Multi-task well while handling multiple SMS conversations at once.
Use a separate phone number for SMS communication. That way, your customers can differentiate between your text number and your call center number.
Encourage Customers to Use Email and SMS
Some people won’t think to use email or SMS to contact you. Your call center can use a message that encourages customers to consider alternative options. For example, your call center could use a hold message that says, “An agent will be available in XX minutes. For faster service, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text message to 555-TEXT-NOW. You can find more information on our customer service web page.”
Start Preparing Your Email and SMS Campaigns Now
The holiday season is always closer than you think. Start preparing your email and SMS campaigns now so you’ll have everything you need when your call volume explodes.
Write Automated Responses and Templates to Common Questions
Previous holiday seasons have probably already taught you some of the most common questions that your customers will ask this year.
Depending on your business, you may answer questions like:
- Can I schedule an appointment?
- Can I change my order?
- Why hasn’t my package arrived yet?
- Can I change my delivery address?
- Why hasn’t my package arrived yet?
- Is something missing from my order?
You may also have some questions that are specific to the products and services you sell. For example, if you sell electronics, you might get a lot of phone calls asking whether your products come with batteries. Spend some time carefully writing answers to the most common questions and requests that your call center receives during the holiday season.
Do not wait until the last minute to start writing responses. Your call center may send them to thousands of consumers, so make sure that you have approved messaging that helps customers and prevents them from calling you.
If possible, look over requests from previous years. Doing so should help you anticipate typical demands. Then, you can automate the responses to take the pressure off of your employees.
Find a Service that Helps You Integrate SMS and Email Into Your Call Center
Ideally, you need an app that will help you integrate SMS and email into your call center’s software. With proper integration, you can create a simplified workflow that ensures every request gets answered without putting more pressure on your call center agents.
Zapier integrates well with call center solutions from Call Tools. Zapier can connect multiple apps so that they work together. You can also use the service to build custom triggers that will respond to customers automatically.
For example, you can build a custom Zap that informs a designated employee that the call center has received a text message. At the same time, Zapier can respond with boilerplate messaging that lets the customer know their request has been received.
Get Your Call Center Up To Speed
The holidays always present unique challenges for call centers. When you integrate SMS and email into your call center’s software, you can help your agents do their jobs well. You will also lower the amount of money that your call center has to spend on employees and equipment.
This post is the second part in a series of holiday prep articles. Read more about getting your call center agents prepared for the upcoming holidays in our last post, Training Call Center Agents For The Unknown.