How a 24/7 call center handles a high call volume during the holidays

How a 24/7 call center handles a high call volume during the holidays

December 3, 2013

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During the holiday season, the normal call volume of a 24/7 call center can increase rapidly. If you are operating a contact center or managing a team of call representatives, you might often use a different approach to handle changes in the call volumes that the holiday rush can bring.

You may stretch your staff’s availability, reroute your calls, or adjust your calling schedule to accommodate the extra number of callers. Ultimately, a precise measurement needs to be fulfilled first before these steps can be carried out.

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While you can simply count the average amount of calls you receive in a day, coming up with a number may not be enough to identify true call behavior. For instance, you counted a total of 500 calls that reached your lines, but how many of those callers actually received assistance from your representatives? How many calls were abandoned? How much time did each representative spend per caller, and how long did it take for them to respond?

If you get the calculations right, your 500-call number when broken down may actually mean that your 24/7 call center answered only 100 calls, left 400 unanswered, fatigued your representatives because of the 100 calls’ complexity, and frustrated your customers who were not able to get in touch with an agent.

It can be tough to keep track of call activities, so using a call calculating software to analyze the movements is reasonable. With this, you will be able to forecast when calls will peak and therefore pattern the schedule of your staff to match the time when customers’ calls come in.

If your monitoring program tells you that the estimated volume of calls for the coming holidays will exceed the volume that your representatives normally handle, you may need to hire part-time employees. Know if the holiday peak hours will cover the normal break period so that you can adjust your staff’s schedules. This doesn’t mean that you should shorten or take away their added activities like training; you only need to move it a bit earlier, hold it several minutes after noon, or assign extra representatives during crucial hours.

You can also base scheduling tactics on order deadlines, shipping schedules, and the billing notices of your brand to determine the call behavior and strategize your call routing. For example, if deliveries start arriving on the first week of December, you can expect that period to be filled with logistics-related queries. This may congest your phone lines, especially if billing, ticketing, and other types of concerns go through the same number. You may set separate routes for these calls to organize your system and prepare your staff better, as this will give them a clearer idea of what kinds of questions they will receive.

The arrival of calls can’t be helped, but you can do something to limit or totally eliminate less intricate inquiries. Do this by giving your customers self-help options such as user guides and FAQ pages on your website.

If you run an outbound 24/7 call center, your calling routine may need to consider religious holidays and bank schedules. People may find it disrespectful if your telemarketer calls on a Sunday when some groups hold festivities or while your customers are in church. It may also be futile to make outbound calls in the morning after midnight countdown parties or do phone-based debt collection when banks are closed.

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