How to Manage Call Center Activity Peaks

Call centers often go through busy times when there are activity peaks. Holiday seasons, technical problems, product recalls, and health crises such as the current pandemic are all reasons why call centers might experience higher call volumes. While managing increased call volumes can be very challenging, call centers must rise to the task in order to keep customers satisfied

How to measure your call center’s response to activity peaks

Call centers may measure their response to activity peaks through the following KPIs:

  • AHT (average handling time): You can analyze the time it takes for an agent to talk to a customer and handle the request in full (wait time + interaction time + post-interaction time for completing the request). The average obtained from the data collected gives the AHT.
  • ART (average response time): This KPI measures the time between the moment a customer attempts contact with your brand via any channel and the moment he is connected to the right company representative.
  • CES (Customer Effort Score): Customer effort can be measured through the use of surveys. The CES is obtained by asking customers to evaluate the level of effort made throughout the customer journey on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 indicating the greatest effort. The weaker the score, the less effort made and therefore a more satisfied customer.

How to manage activity peaks

Call centers can manage activity peaks in many ways, including:

Enabling faster service through IVR and callback options

Call centers can better manage inbound call volume by implementing a well-defined IVR menu combined with an ACD, or automatic call distributor, system. The ACD uses preset distribution rules based on agent skillset to route customers quickly and efficiently to the most qualified agent available as they tap their way through IVR menu options. If an agent is unavailable, the customer may receive a callback rather than being placed on hold. Companies should also have a well-designed, easy to navigate website that offers customers the opportunity to request a web callback by clicking on a button and providing a phone number and preferred callback time.

Offering omnichannel customer service

Omnichannel customer service allows your customers to communicate with you on their preferred channels. During activity peaks, an omnichannel strategy is especially critical to managing contact center resources while offering your customers the best service. Giving your customers the option to use cold channels such as email, messaging, social media, and SMS enables your company to communicate asynchronously with customers. This allows your brand to devote more time to real-time channels such as voice while also enabling customers to communicate with you at their own pace on cold channels.

Relying on the flexibility of the cloud

Cloud solutions offer companies excellent flexibility during peak times with no need to invest in additional IT infrastructures. Companies may add agents quickly in just a few clicks and give them the opportunity to work remotely if needed while ensuring seamless processes. With full access to all solution features, agents can offer the same quality of service no matter where they are. The cloud offers companies true scalability as it allows them to adjust their resources as needed without compromising service and customer satisfaction.

Saving time with a CRM

Integrating a contact center solution with CRM software gives call centers a 360° view of customer history in real time. With full access to information such as past purchases and previous service interactions, agents can offer faster and more efficient service. They can make real-time updates to keep all information current and save time during subsequent service interactions.

Training agents efficiently

To manage activity peaks, agents must receive the best training possible. They should learn how

to follow scripts which can assist them with common customer requests. For example, service interactions regarding order or delivery status, product returns, and product exchanges may all be managed efficiently with well-written scripts. Since agents have front line experience, their insights regarding best practices for script writing should also be considered. For example, they may have ideas regarding the best conversational style to use for each context. Agents should also be trained for the specific channels on which they work.

While these steps are all necessary for managing activity peaks, companies must also remember to analyze the reasons why customers are making contact in the first place. A close look at IVR prompt use, call scripts, and other channels may reveal customer pain points that should be addressed to avoid unusual activity peaks. Even during the most stressful times, customers expect great service. By remaining professional, friendly, and willing to help customers when they need assistance the most, these busy times will not harm your business and only increase customer loyalty.

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