In the words of singer Andy Williams it’s ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ and it’s fast approaching. Many of us look forward to mince pies, mulled wine and festive parties. As consumers we pound the high streets and scour online retailers in search of the perfect gifts for loved ones.
But in the contact centre, it can be a different story. The Christmas season is renowned for creating an increase in enquiries. Failing to prepare for this can leave your agents overwhelmed and your customer service under strain.
So when we say ‘festive season’ what do we actually mean? The lead-up to Christmas is one thing, but what happens during and after the event when the January blues set in?
Our experience shows that consumers have different mind-sets and expectations depending on the phase of the Christmas buzz they’re in. There’s the excitement of planning time with family and friends. The sense of urgency around whether gifts will arrive on time and intact. Not forgetting the frustration of exchanging unwanted or faulty products when the Boxing Day sales are over.
All of this places varying demand on contact centres which is difficult to plan for. So how do you ensure you're on track to smash service levels throughout the entire festive season and beyond?
Here are three simple steps to help you deliver first-class CX this Christmas (and any other holiday season for that matter).
1.Plan your resources and stay a step ahead
Get a feel for what you’re likely to be up against by looking at historical data. Understanding why your customers contact you pre, during and after Christmas, means you’ll have a better grasp of which types of interactions require the most support.
Consider the impact on average handling time (AHT) and first contact resolution (FCR). Identify:
- Which systems, 'back-office' or support departments may not be working?
- Will their unavailability impact service and the potential for you to resolve customer contact? Or will you need to adjust the number of agents on shift?
- And will unresolved contacts mean that there is a spike in demand or administration after the holiday?
Mapping demand and the impact of your internal constraints will allow you to develop a solid plan to manage resource effectively. After all, failing to plan is planning to fail.
2.Engage your agents and set-up for success
Involve your team early so that they understand what is planned, and how you need them to respond. They may have creative ideas to help manage call volumes throughout the festive period.
Happy agents inspire happy customers and vice versa. Do your agents have a full view of each customer, including any previous interactions via other channels? Repeating information frustrates customers. And using multiple interfaces which don’t offer the complete customer journey is unhelpful for your team.
Technology such as a Unified Agent Desktop will enable your advisors to resolve enquiries quickly and reduce customer effort.
3.Delight customers with call backs
Exceeding customer expectations will help your service stand out from your competitors (covered in more detail here). One option is to offer your customers a call back, as an alternative to waiting on hold.
It’s simple, but effective and offers a number of benefits. A call back solution such as Netcall’s QueueBuster® is quick to implement, reduces call abandonment and prevents repeat calls. It also enables your call centre to handle around 15% more calls. Making peaks in demand far more manageable.
You’ll increase revenue, handle more calls and improve customer satisfaction. All with your agents under less pressure.
Hype or reality?
Do bank holidays such as Christmas and New Year have an impact on your contact centre? Do you feel that customer expectations change at this time of year? And how do you prepare?
We’d love to hear your views and how you and your teams get ready for the Christmas rush.For more information about how we can help, please get in touch.