Winter can be an expensive time for contact centres.
You have Christmas, discounts and marketing campaigns all driving sales.
And your agents are trying to juggle an increased workload and party season while suffering from a persistent cold and a travel network that grinds to a halt every time a snowflake hits the ground.
Every disturbance comes with a cost. By the time the season is complete, you could find that your contact centre is making a major dent in your profitability.
Will the Christmas period bring a handful of extra calls – or will it drive a massive surge in demand? Forecasting your staffing levels is a complex challenge, but it’s essential to consider all the factors that affect demand before building your agent schedules.
There are several ways to reduce the costs associated with increased demand:
- Divert people to low-cost channels, such as online help pages and web chat
- Streamline processes with tools like robotic process automation (RPA)
- Flex your workforce – agents who can work from home may be able to step in quickly when people are off sick (or stuck in snow)
- Devote more time to workforce management and scheduling; a small reduction in wastage means a significant increase in efficiency.
How easily can your contact centre recover from a loss of power, connectivity or infrastructure? While a backup plan may be expensive to implement and maintain, the cost of not planning for disasters will be far higher. After all, an out-of-action contact centre can cost you many valuable customers in a short space of time.
Before you head into the winter season, check that your disaster recovery plan still covers all your essential services and channels, and that all applications and systems are up-to-date and ready to use.
When did you last test your disaster response?
How do your agents feel about the increase in demand for their time? Do they relish the challenge and thrive on the frenetic pace? Or do they struggle to maintain their usual quality of service in the face of increased pressure?
Recognising the pressures that your agents may be feeling is half the battle. As you assemble seasonal schedules, don’t just consider the impacts on the customer experience; also consider the experience of your agents.
As we’ve discussed previously, the agent experience translates directly into the customer experience. And your engaged agents are more likely to stick around into the new year and beyond.
What else can you do to support agents during the busy season? There are a few tactics that can help agents cope with higher demand:
- Gamification – adding an element of fun to meeting targets
- Reward and recognition – making sure that high performers are appreciated
- Breaks and variety – changing the nature of the work can provide some much-needed respite
- Task optimisation – if your agents are wasting time on inefficient processes, consider implementing robotic process automation (RPA) or another automation solution.
These kinds of employee engagement approaches aren’t just a ‘nice to have’; they could help you achieve more with fewer agents, reduce sickness absences and improve employee retention rates – which will all make a big difference to your bottom line.