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The holiday season is here. That means (hopefully) more time spent with families, beautiful decorations, and endless opportunities to make new memories. Unfortunately, it also means a lot more stress for the average contact center agent.

During the holidays, changes in consumer behavior can lead to rapid spikes in contact center demand. Consumers demand quick, convenient service delivered across every channel, so they can continue to enjoy their festivities in peace. This usually leaves contact center agents dealing with spikes in call volume, and impatient customers. Not to mention, they also have a range of other challenges to address, from weather issues causing delivery problems, to supply chain issues.

While contact center leaders might only be able to partially remove the stress of the holidays from their staff members, they can prepare them to handle the season more effectively.

How to Get Ready for the Holiday Rush

Research and preparation are crucial to managing your contact center team's challenges during the festive season. This means every holiday strategy should begin with carefully evaluating your data.

Using your contact center wallboards, historical reporting and analysis can provide insight into previous year activity. Your dashboard will give you behind-the-scenes insights into how many calls your agents typically handle each day and how many employees you will need to handle a spike in demand.

Once you have a clear view of what the holidays are going to look like for your team, you can begin preparing with a range of different techniques, such as:

  • Outsourcing for more help: If you can't afford to bring new full-time team members into your company for the holidays, outsource some of your contact center needs to third-party professionals. This can be a great way to cut costs, and you can still keep a close eye on the performance of each new employee using your dashboard tools.
  • Manage your workforce: Using the data collected from your wallboards and dashboards, you can determine how many people you need to manage each communication channel at any given time. If you know you get spikes in message requests at certain times, you can schedule more of your staff to move from the phone line to the messaging app according to these insights.
  • Implementing self-service: Remove some pressure from your contact center agents with self-service initiatives. Try implementing an intelligent IVR that helps customers to solve problems on their own while they're waiting for an agent. Consider using FAQ bots or chatbots to handle common questions. Self-service tools are excellent for call deflection and giving your employees more time to service the complicated calls.
  • Consider call-backs: If your call queues are growing longer by the day, consider implementing a tool that allows users to opt for a call-back at a time when an agent is available instead of staying on hold. This will ensure consumers can get on with their day rather than sitting on the phone, and it could significantly improve customer service.
  • Empower employees: Give staff members the tools they need to get through call queues quickly and reduce average handling times. Resources like CRM data and automatically surfaced information about products and services can save agents crucial minutes. Provide support by allowing supervisors to listen in on calls, so they can assist immediately when an agent needs help.
  • Implement policies: One of the biggest challenges contact centers face during the holiday season is unexpected absenteeism. While it's impossible to predict employees being sick, you can implement policies to ensure they inform you of planned breaks in advance. It is also worth considering remote working options for employees who can continue to handle calls from home when they cannot attend the office. Cloud-based tools will ensure your staff can stay productive anywhere.

Preparing Everyone for the Holiday Season

Keeping everyone informed and up to date throughout the holidays will also improve the overall performance of your team and your customer’s satisfaction levels.

Ensure your customers know your opening times and availability during the holidays by sending automated texts or emails. You can include automated responses on your chatbots and in your IVR system, highlighting your opening hours.

At the same time, provide your employees with the tools they need to track their performance during busy times. Allowing them access to real-time dashboards showcasing crucial information will give them the peace of mind that comes with knowing they're still meeting their goals during the holidays.

The holidays can be challenging for contact center agents, but with some preparation, you can ensure your employees continue to delight your audience.

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