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Don't Drop the Call

The Holidays Are Right Around the Corner – Retail Call Center Leaders, Are You Ready?

The holiday season is drawing near. Are you ready? Ready with a strategy to maximize your revenue potential while providing exceptional customer service? While the revenue goal is a matter of calculation, designing a strategy to optimize call handling and customer experience is a work of art. The art of forecasting call volume and agent staffing while preparing for operational and agent readiness requires planning for the unexpected so you don’t drop the call.

holiday shopping

Volume and Staffing:

As you prepare your staffing plans, it is important that you are aligned with your marketing and promotional schedules. When your customers are picking up the phone, they want to talk to an agent who is available, provides fast answers, a friendly interaction, and adds value to the conversation. Do you have the right agents and do you have enough? Here are five key questions you should ask to get ready:

  1. Do you need 24 x 7 support or extended service hours?
  2. Do you have the agent capacity required during peak call times?
  3. Have you factored in your staffs’ vacation time, unexpected absences, and absences due to inclement weather conditions?
  4. Have you identified incremental budget for recruiting, onboarding and internal resources like workstations, office space, supplies and people required to bring on new agents?
  5. Have you considered outsourcing to optimize service levels?

Operational and Agent Readiness:

Once you have answered these fundamental volume and staffing questions and feel confident in the staffing plan, it is important to ensure the operational and agent readiness strategy components are also in place. In particular, are the agents armed with the information they need to reduce call backs and provide incredible customer experiences? Are they prepared to monetize every call by upselling, cross selling, or turning a customer service call into an opportunity to sell? Here are six elements to put on your readiness list:

  1. Establish your goals and a strong communication process between you, your outsourced partner, and agents.
  2. Review promotional and marketing calendars from different departments (CRM/loyalty, ecommerce, stores, etc.) and adjust accordingly to ensure promotions do not unexpectedly overlap. This will help avoid unintended deep discounts and conflicting offers resulting in unexpected call volume.  
  3. Expect the unexpected and build in flexibility to easily make capacity adjustments if current events impact your advertising efforts and outcomes.
  4. Align and communicate your inventory levels, promotions, and agent capacity.
  5. Arm your agents with a holiday survival guide including the promotion and marketing schedule, holiday shipping cut off calendar, holiday return policy, a clear feedback loop process for frequently asked questions, etc.

This time of year, everyone needs to be on top of their game to ensure you, your agents, your outsourced partner, and your customers have a pleasant holiday experience. Are you ready to answer the call?