Clutched with Spikes in Call Volume: Manage it Now

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I absolutely understand your problem Mr. X/ Ms. Y and I can certainly help you.
What I will do for you right away is raise a ticket, provide you with the reference number and try my best to get your problem resolved by the evening.
Rest assured Mr. X/Ms. Y, we are there for you and everything is now under control.

How amazing do you feel when you hear such beautiful combination of words from a call center agent? Without bashing or shouting on any call center agent you are able to get your problem resolved or at least able to get it processed for getting it fixed.

Every business, whether a startup or a well capitalized organization, needs a backend support to manage their ongoing promotions and take care of the company’s image in the eyes of their customers. Such businesses have call centers in place to manage their customers who face certain issues or wish to inquire about their product/service updates. These call centers have some number of agents working round the clock who deal with customers directly. Thus the calling coin has an agent on the one side and customer on the other. These agents have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to address the customer in the best possible way and preserve company’s repo if anything goes wrong .

Here the call center managers are able to keep a check on their team to deliver outstanding customer service. But as the festive and holiday season is around the corner and people are getting ready to prepare themselves for parties and travel breaks, the chances of spike in call volume increases rapidly. E-commerce firms and travel companies seek such opportunities and come up with various offers and bonanzas to lure people to go for humongous shopping as well as low priced holidays. Consequently, this results in a spike in customer issues, complaints, order updates, order status and service requests. Sometimes the reasons are understood and foreseen. However, there are also some cases where spikes come as a result of certain outbreak or a failure.

A call center manager faces tough time during such spikes and they should have a back plan ready for meeting demands of their service starving customers. If they do not come up with something, it may impact their bottom line and at the same time may even demolish the company’s reputation. Let us understand some proven ways to control the spikes in call volume:

1. Efficiently forecast the spikes: Forecasting spike is the first and foremost important tool when it comes to managing the anticipated spikes in call volume due to certain promotions or event. A manager cannot even think of blaming any unknown factor during such situations. Thus it is important to clearly analyse the logs recorded during previous promotional events and with the help of a professional tool, come up with a plan that could tell them the no. of additional agents needed or find a way to eliminate customer’s hold time.

2. Managing the competent Staff:  Having said that, it is necessary to recruit quality call center agents who can help you quickly resolve customer queries. To better manage spikes, be ready to hire a temporary and quality staff. The strength of the temporary staff can also be higher than your permanent strength but the managers should have a pilot training program ready for such staff to reduce the burden from your permanent staff. Organizations can also share their agents with another company as it might not be the case that urgency or call spikes are seen in both the companies at the same time.

3. Go for the kill with First Call Resolution (Make it a mandate): Managers should ensure that most of the calls should be handled cleanly in the first attempt itself. This will reduce the redundant calls from customers. Make sure that the team is aware about the new launches, product updates or even downtime. Call center managers can monitor the time taken by an agent to resolve a customer issue and should strictly make a note of customer’s feedback which is taken by sms or by an automated call.

4. Get the latest technology in: There are certain technologies that can help you boost your call center productivity and also manage spikes during peak seasons. One such technology is call back, which could help you tackle to missed calls from customers or may be resolve the issue of those who have waited long in call queues. For those customers who wish to receive call back, they can raise ticket or can even SMS and email the customer support department requesting a call back during certain time range. This will help in reducing customer frustration and will give agents the time to manage urgent call volume.

5. Use of Automated Messages during Wait times: It is necessary to update the customer about the waiting time. Supposedly, if you are waiting for the agent to answer your query and there is an automated voice asking you to wait for two more minutes before the call gets answered, how satisfying would it be. Thus, such information can again help in reducing customer frustration and at the same time can also help in drastically reducing spikes and repeat calls.

6. Promoting Self-Service Channels: Again the technology can rescue in managing spikes at your call center. Employing self-service options for providing updates and tracking status will remove the unnecessary burden on agents. Using IVR, providing updates on social media channels and live chat options can prove to be a boon for spikes in call volumes. 

I hope this holiday season you can come out with a plan to rock your customer service. Do let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.