Ask people what they hate most about having to get in touch with a contact centre, and most will say, “Having to wait on hold in a queue for ages.” It’s an understandable response, and we all know there are times when the call centre gets a rush of calls, emails, and chat requests, and the contacts start backing up. We've all had that experience: trying to get in touch with a telco or utility provider in our lunch hour, only to be placed in a queue.
Know your peaks (and what causes them)
Contact centres are very good at collecting data on the amount and types of contact that comes into the centre, but how often do you actually sit down and analyse what it’s telling you?
You want to identify your peaks and work out why there’s a spike at that time. Are there any patterns? Do you typically get a rush on Mondays, or after a bill drop? Are there any quiet times you can identify? You can get these insights both from historical data, and through anecdotal evidence from your agents.
Have a plan to meet peak demand
If your analysis tells you there are certain events that lead to a spike in traffic, you’ll improve contact centre efficiency and agent productivity by planning to spread out those events. Using the above example – Monday rushes and bill drops – make sure they never occur on the same day. Instead, try to schedule your billing email or letter drop for a quiet period.
Increase capacity with technology
Don’t forget all the useful technology that you can deploy now. Interactive voice response (IVR) is great for diverting low-value calls to other channels. And if you have not enabled call-back from queue, do it now. It’s one of those technologies that customers readily accept, and helps to ‘time shift’ those periods when agents are busiest.
Do your customer service agents still need to hop from one screen to another to answer customer queries? You can also increase their efficiency and productivity by streamlining the way they access information about the customers. Can you collate all interactions within your CRM? If not, what options for consolidation are available?
Finally, look at your resourcing. Do you simply not have enough people? Is it possible to put on part-time customer service agents working from home to help meet peaks? Could you find an outsourcing partner to handle foreseeable spikes beyond your internal capacity?
Salmat offers on-demand, pop-up call centres. See this case study for home builder Metricon to read more about how we can help your business meet unexpected surges in demand.
Richard Branson defined the key to great customer service as setting realistic expectations and then exceeding them – preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.
Check out how Salmat's integrated software can help you do just that.