4 Major Call Center Flops That Could Happen Over the Holidays

Faith Ocampo Published on December 1, 2015 Last updated on November 21, 2023

It’s the busiest time of the year for call centers. Brands better watch out for these holiday call center fails!

The holiday season is a critical time for businesses, especially those heavily reliant on call centers. With an influx of customer inquiries and a heightened focus on customer service, maintaining customer satisfaction is of great importance.

However, this period can be fraught with challenges that can result in holiday call center fails. Today, we’ll look into four potential holiday customer service flops and explore strategies for disaster prevention and recovery.

Holiday Call Center Fail #1: Staffing Shortages

During the holiday season, call centers face its annual challenge: employee absence. As the festive spirit sweeps through, employees understandably seek time off to celebrate with their loved ones.

However, this exodus can significantly short-staff call centers at precisely the time when they need more personnel. At this rate, there might only be a few who can manage surging call volumes and deliver exceptional customer service. This problem, if not deftly addressed, can result in extended wait times, exasperated customers, and a dip in customer satisfaction.

Prevention and Planning for Staffing Shortages

So, how can call centers ensure a great holiday for both customers and employees? The most obvious answer is, of course, planning ahead.

  • Planning Ahead

    During the holidays, call centers must forecast call volume trends and anticipate staffing needs. Effective planning involves a meticulous analysis of historical data to predict call volume patterns that typically arise during the holidays.

    This analytical foresight enables call centers to estimate the number of agents required during specific periods. Additionally, this ensures they are adequately prepared to handle the expected surge in customer inquiries.

    Anticipating staffing needs based on these forecasts enables call centers to proactively address potential shortages before they manifest. This, in turn, minimizes disruptions in service and keeps customer wait times to a minimum.

  • Incentives and Bonuses

    Call centers can also consider implementing incentives and bonuses to motivate employees to work during peak times. With these bonuses, employees may willingly step up and take on shifts during the busiest hours of the holiday season.

    These additional rewards can manifest in various forms, from financial bonuses to extra time off or recognition programs. These incentives not only acknowledge employees’ dedication but also foster a heightened sense of commitment among team members.

  • Flexible Scheduling

    Aside from incentives, call centers could also offer flexible schedules to accommodate employees’ holiday plans while ensuring adequate coverage. Even while acknowledging employees’ desire to spend quality time with their families, offering flexible schedules remains a good approach.

    This flexibility allows employees to balance their work commitments with personal holiday plans effectively. Through various shift options, employees can choose schedules that align with their preferences.

    Importantly, this accommodation is not at odds with maintaining adequate staffing levels. Instead, it ensures that the call center remains equipped with the necessary workforce to meet the demands of the season.

  • Cross-training Employees

    To reduce the impact of employee absence, call centers can cross-train employees to handle various tasks. The strategy of cross-training employees equips them with a versatile skill set that goes beyond their primary roles.

    This versatility is invaluable in scenarios where an employee is absent, whether due to holiday leave or unforeseen circumstances. In such instances, cross-trained team members can seamlessly step into different roles, ensuring that essential functions continue without disruption.

    This approach not only enhances team flexibility but also bolsters the resilience of the call center. This also allows the call center to navigate staffing challenges with professionalism while maintaining a high standard of customer service.

Holiday Call Center Fail #2: Ineffective Training

Effective employee motivation and training form the backbone of consistently delivering exceptional customer service. Yet, when the holiday season arrives, there’s a tendency among call centers to streamline operations. Unfortunately, this may come at the expense of employee preparation.

The consequence? Agents who may not be adequately equipped to handle the heightened demands of customers during this busy period. This incongruity can erode customer satisfaction and, subsequently, tarnish a client’s hard-earned reputation.

Prevention and Planning for Ineffective Training

Just like the first holiday call center fail we talked about, ineffective training can be addressed proactively.

  • Ongoing Employee Training

    No matter the time of year, call centers should prioritize ongoing employee motivation and training programs. It involves fostering a workplace culture that places a strong emphasis on sustaining employee enthusiasm and ensuring their skills remain sharp.

    This approach includes regularly scheduled motivational sessions and workshops designed to keep employees engaged and aligned with the organization’s objectives. It also encompasses a consistent investment in skill development to ensure employees continuously enhance their abilities.

  • Refresher Courses

    Seasonal staff members play a vital role in maintaining service standards. To ensure they perform effectively, conducting refresher courses is important. These courses provide a condensed overview of essential skills, product knowledge, and company policies.

    These refresher courses equip seasonal staff with the necessary knowledge and confidence to address customer inquiries efficiently. This not only enhances their individual performance but also contributes to a consistent customer experience.

  • Knowledge Bases

    Refresher courses aren’t the only useful resource for call center agents. This is why companies must ensure that agents have access to up-to-date resources and knowledge bases. These resources encompass product manuals, frequently asked questions (FAQs), troubleshooting guides, and any other relevant documentation.

    Keeping these resources current is pivotal, as it empowers agents to promptly find accurate solutions to customer queries. This accessibility ensures that agents can respond with confidence while offering customers the information they seek.

  • Constructive Feedback

    Monitor and provide feedback to agents regularly to improve their performance. Implementing a system of regular monitoring and feedback is vital for enhancing agent performance. This entails tracking essential performance metrics such as call resolution times, customer satisfaction ratings, and response accuracy.

    Offering constructive feedback to agents based on their performance serves a dual purpose: identifying areas for improvement and acknowledging achievements. This feedback loop motivates agents to consistently strive for excellence in their roles.

Holiday Call Center Fail #3: Technological Glitches

Tech teams in call centers ensure that the machinery of communication flows smoothly. Yet, as the holiday season approaches, the risk of technological glitches looms.

These unexpected disruptions have the potential to cause delays, customer frustration, and operational mayhem. Additionally, these glitches are often exacerbated by inadequate execution of the sales strategy, creating a perfect storm of technical hiccups.

Prevention and Planning for Technological Glitches

The best way to combat technological glitches is to prevent them from happening in the first place. For that, call centers need the right systems and the right personnel.

  • Thorough Testing

    Call centers should conduct thorough testing of all systems and software before the holiday sales rush. This testing should encompass hardware, software applications, and communication channels. Rigorous testing helps identify potential vulnerabilities and glitches that might disrupt operations during the peak season.

  • Tech Team on Standby

    Aside from thorough testing, call centers should also have a dedicated tech team to address any technical issues promptly. These experts should be readily available to troubleshoot and resolve problems as they arise. Their presence ensures that any disruptions in call center operations can be promptly mitigated, minimizing customer frustration and service interruptions.

  • Comprehensive Sales Strategy

    Additionally, call centers should develop a comprehensive sales strategy. After all, a well-thought-out sales strategy forms the foundation of a successful holiday season. It should not only outline specific goals but also detail the tactics and approaches to achieve them.

    Effective communication of this strategy to the entire team is equally critical. Every member of the call center should understand their role within the strategy, ensuring a cohesive and synchronized effort. This alignment is fundamental in preventing misunderstandings and fostering a unified team working toward common objectives.

  • Monitoring System Performance

    Finally, call centers should always monitor system performance in real-time to identify and resolve issues proactively. Real-time system performance allows the call center to identify and address potential issues as they occur. It involves continuously tracking key performance metrics and actively looking for anomalies or degradation in service.

    Monitoring systems in real-time allows the call center to respond to emerging problems, often before customers even notice any disruptions. This approach is invaluable in maintaining high-quality customer service and minimizing the impact of technical glitches during the holiday rush.

Holiday Call Center Fail #4: Poor Customer Experience

When staffing shortages, inadequate training, and technological glitches converge, the inevitable outcome is a poor customer experience. This unfortunate mix of issues can lead to customers encountering long wait times, unhelpful agents, or technical problems.

In addition, these issues form a frustrating predicament that customers are quick to voice their displeasure about. The repercussions of a poor customer experience can be significant, including the potential tarnishing of a company’s hard-earned reputation.

Prevention and Planning against Poor Customer Experience

Not prioritizing customer experience is arguably the biggest mistake call centers can make, especially during the holidays. To keep a high quality of service even during the seasonal rush, there are some tips call centers can do:

  • Prioritizing Customer Satisfaction

    For call centers, customer satisfaction should always be a core value. This principle dictates that every decision and action undertaken by the call center leaves customers genuinely delighted with their experiences.

    In addition, this commitment must show in how the call center shapes its processes and gauges its overall success. Ultimately, the litmus test of the call center’s effectiveness is the level of happiness and contentment it gives customers.

  • Clear Protocols for Complaints and Issues

    Call centers must have clear protocols for handling customer complaints and issues. Such protocols offer a structured and consistent approach to addressing customer concerns. They delineate the precise steps for recording complaints, conducting thorough investigations, and initiating the necessary actions for rectification.

    Through these protocols, the call center ensures that each customer’s grievance is accorded due attention and professionalism. Consequently, it not only facilitates effective resolution but also fosters customer confidence. It also shows a genuine commitment to acknowledging and rectifying concerns in a methodical and comprehensive manner.

  • Positive Attitude and Empathy

    Encourage agents to maintain a positive attitude and empathy even during challenging interactions. Encouraging agents to embody these qualities, particularly in the face of challenging interactions, can substantially elevate the customer experience.

    Showing a positive attitude in customer service means doing it with a warm, empathetic tone and with sincere understanding. This approach has the power to diffuse tense situations, and leave customers feeling heard and valued.

  • Monitoring Customer Satisfaction Metrics

    Besides a positive attitude, call centers should also commit to monitoring customer satisfaction metrics in real-time. This practice entails the continuous tracking of key performance indicators such as customer feedback and Net Promoter Score (NPS).

    Upon detecting any decline in customer satisfaction, the call center can begin investigations to discern the root causes. This agile approach ensures that any underlying issues are addressed promptly, averting escalation and preserving a consistently positive customer experience.

Outsourcing for the Holidays

Despite the potential pitfalls that call centers might encounter during the holiday season, outsourcing remains a viable option for businesses. In fact, outsourcing can serve as a holiday lifesaver, helping companies maintain high levels of customer satisfaction.

  • Staffing Shortages Solution

    Outsourcing offers a solution to the perennial issue of staffing shortages. Through a reliable outsourcing provider, businesses can tap into a team of professionals who can handle increased call volumes.

    These outsourcing teams are often well-trained, experienced, and equipped to seamlessly integrate into existing customer service operations. This means no more worrying about employees seeking time off during the festive season.

  • Ineffective Training Mitigation

    Outsourcing providers typically invest heavily in training their agents to provide top-notch customer service. Outsourcing helps businesses gain access to agents who are well-versed in handling a wide range of customer inquiries.

    This mitigates the ineffective training, as the outsourced team arrives equipped with the knowledge and skills for excellent service.

  • Technological Expertise

    Tech teams at reputable outsourcing companies are often at the forefront of technology trends. In other words, these people are well-prepared to handle any technological glitches that may arise.

    In addition, these teams ensure the smooth operation of call center technology and swiftly address any technical issues. As a result, they minimize disruptions and ensure that customers enjoy a seamless experience.

  • Poor Customer Experience Prevention

    Partnering with an outsourcing provider that prioritizes customer satisfaction prevents the consequences of a poor customer experience. Outsourcing companies understand the importance of maintaining positive customer interactions. Hence, they work diligently to ensure that every customer interaction is, indeed, a positive one.

In conclusion, the holiday season presents both opportunities and challenges for call centers. Recognizing and addressing potential flops during these times helps companies prevent disasters and maintain customer satisfaction.

The holidays are an enjoyable time of the year. Make the most out of this season by boosting your call center strategy and revamping your marketing plan. If you re looking for a trustworthy helping hand to see you through the holiday season and other business disruptions, Open Access BPO is here to provide you with agile voice and non-voice solutions.

Get in touch with us today!

The holiday season’s a highly exciting time for customers. As early as the second half of the year, discounts, special promos, and other irresistible offers begin to swim before your eyes.

Among the festive decorations and huge sales, this is the busiest time of the year for business managers, marketers, and salespeople who may find themselves drowning in massive piles of work. Right at this moment, for sure there are businessmen fervently hoping to walk away unscathed and victorious once the influx of shoppers subsides.

frustrated problematic call center agent asking for help

The bad news is that this isn’t at all easy. Brand managers are relying on their call center team to handle the connect-to-customers-and-make-them-happy part.

After all, this is what the holidays are all about. It’s not just about businesses boosting their performance and sales but, more importantly, putting a smile on customers’ faces along the way.

The holidays often signify spikes in sales activity and customer interaction, both of which can offer a huge challenge if you are unprepared. During this time, your customer service manager should be well-planned and executed.

If you’re not careful, several disasters could tear apart your holiday sale strategy, including the following:

  1. Uh-Oh. Where Are Your Employees?

    company employee alone in empty office

    Before you go on an employee firing spree because most of your staff is missing, try to understand that it’s normal for employees to feel less motivated during the holidays. They each have a personal to-do list including shopping, setting up decorations, cooking, and attending parties. But this doesn’t mean that you can let your business rot during the holiday season.

    Creating absence policies and enforcing these fairly can minimize absences in the call center. Also, offer incentives and bonuses to heighten productivity, but don’t forget to offer flexible schedules as well.

  2. Is Your Tech Team Ready?

    server storage hard drive broken band aid

    The biggest buzzword in this year’s holiday sale season is ecommerce. More customers are opting to shop online because it’s convenient and fast.

    But having enough people isn’t the only factor in handling the increased volume during the holidays. An updated set of tech tools can give your customers the best online experience and help your contact agents respond better to their demands.

    But beware: the surging web traffic can also cause your servers to collapse, especially if you fail to make the necessary preparations before the holidays start taking over. And once they do break down, just imagine how big your loss would be.

    If your servers break down, imagine how big of a loss you would have. To prevent this, you need an IT support team to monitor web activity and optimize your site’s infrastructure helping everyone have a smooth experience.

  3. Why are Callers Suddenly Oh-So Frustrated?

    frustrated customer screaming at customer support agent over the phone

    Customers are going through a lot during this season. They’re rushing to get their hands on the best deals, finish up on their shopping list, decorate their homes, and do other sets of responsibilities outside of the holidays. Of course, they feel pressured and they can easily get frustrated if you and your agents fail to meet their expectations.

    The best you can do is be committed to delivering excellent customer with with smooth transactions and continuous assistance.

  4. Everybody’s Just Confused.

    confused call customer service agent talking to consumer in call center

    With the number of tasks every employee, manager, and customer must do before the year ends, the world seems more chaotic than usual. Don’t let this confuse you and your employees.

    Holidays are always a bit chaotic, so you need to make sure to keep everything organized by making detailed plans and lists, sticking to your schedule, and checking that everything is in its right place.

The holidays are an enjoyable time of the year. Make the most out of this season by boosting your call center strategy and revamping your marketing plan. If you’re looking for a trustworthy helping hand to see you through the holiday season and other business disruptions, Open Access BPO is here to provide you with agile voice and non-voice solutions.

Get in touch with us today!


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Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.

0 responses to “4 Major Call Center Flops That Could Happen Over the Holidays”

  1. The human element is always one to consider. During the holiday season, stress is high and that should be taken into account by the call center agents so that they know what they could likely be dealing with on the other end of the line.

    • Faith Ocampo says:

      I agree, Jeanne. That’s why I think managers should make the office more fun and lively during holidays!

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