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3 Biggest Mistakes Contact Centers Make During the Seasonal Surge

readyRamp-ups for seasonal surges and product launches can bring teams to their knees if they aren’t strategically and emotionally prepared. Contact center ramp-ups are more than just adding more people in various positions based on organizational ratios; they must be strategic.

Here are the three mistakes that will kill your ramp-up success:

Assuming all front-line leaders can effectively coach new agents to help them be successful and serve your customers

All leadership is not created equal. Some managers struggle with coaching new advisors. Organizations need to identify the leaders who have that “gift” of connecting with new people and the patience to guide new recruits through those rough new waters. The best leaders for new employees will have the ability to identify the behaviors that are hindering these new agents from gaining speed to competency, and articulate what needs to be done and what is being done well.

When new agents don’t have the right support, they tend to come late to work and get back late from breaks and lunches, which affects utilization. Some new agents feel frustrated that they will never absorb all the information or feel hopeless since their managers can’t show them what they need to do differently; these agents may not show up for work at all. When this happens, organizations see their absenteeism climb. Other new employees will just quit out of frustration, which affects staffing levels and puts more pressure on other employees to cover those production hours.

Assuming your normal nesting and production processes will work

When ramp-ups are big, contingencies should be built into your process. Does your leadership in nesting and on the operations floor truly understand how to meet these new advisors “where they are” or how to regroup quickly when something isn’t working? The best contact center companies remain nimble to respond to changes in nesting and on the operations floor and can drive change quickly and efficiently on the floor.

Since new employee KPIs dilute your organizational metrics, designing new processes and additional ad hoc training and coaching for nesting will help accelerate the new hire speed to competency. During a normal ramp-up, you may be adding one or two team members per supervisor team, but in a big ramp-up, the numbers are a lot bigger. Utilizing the same nesting and production processes can be disastrous and can impact your floor.

Not creating a special “ramp-up culture”

This is a critical piece and can make all the difference. Ramp-ups can be draining on both leadership and new agents. Things move quickly, and there is a lot of change. There is pressure on existing agents to improve KPIs as new agents tend to dilute the organization’s current KPIs. This special ramp-up culture mindset needs to deliberately drive your culture—for both existing and new agents.

Get your team engaged and excited with more praise, more recognition, more time with your team, more contests, and more activities. Additional training roundtables to help new agents get over some of the hurdles also can assist overall employee engagement and improve new employee speed to competency. When you develop a highly engaging culture, new employees will feel that the company cares about their success and will feel valued. This increases employee engagement and encourages people to show up for work and serve customers. Making work fun will help most employees—both new and veteran employees—push through the ramp-up and on to victory.

Creating a deliberate ramp-up plan with some contingencies will help make a positive impact on employees and new employee speed to competency. This also can drive a better experience for your customers—all of which can impact your bottom line.

Photo courtesy of Charanjeet Dhiman.