Remember building sandcastles? Constructing the towers and driftwood drawbridges was a blast. That is, until the tide came in and unexpected wave swept the beach and water flooded the kingdom. Only having prepared a deep and expansive moat did the realm remain safe. For everyone else, all of the hard work would be leveled.
That’s exactly what a call volume spike can do to customer loyalty if not prepared.
As much as we manage forecasting and establish intricate service level agreements, we all know that call volume spikes are part of the natural order of any support operation. Depending on your service or product offering, anything from system outages to product defects can flood your contact center in an instant. Average handle times shoot upward, wait times escalate, and the frustration begins to exceed its boiling point with customers and sometimes with your team.
Preserving customer loyalty, and to keep your satisfaction scores healthy when call volume surges, you’ll need to make sure that the right safety nets are in place.
1.) Focus on the Right Metrics
It might be tempting in all the hubbub of a call volume spike for your team to concentrate on work on whittling down Average Hold Time above all else. But it’s important to remember that other metrics still matter.
Low handle times are desirable – obviously, the faster an agent gets through a call, the quicker the team works their way through a queue – but first call resolution, customer effort, and customer satisfaction figures are inextricably linked to customer loyalty. Taking the time to get a call fully and accurately resolved even as a queue stacks up could prevents that same customer from calling. When volume is at a critical level, your online support services build customer loyalty too.
2.) Answers Lie in Your Data
Data is the lifeblood of any support center with or without call volume spikes. Every interaction is tabulated, notes are logged in our CRMs, and even seasonal conditions and regional events notated for later analysis. Why is that important? Because we can deconstruct prior call volume spikes to make predictions and better prepare in the future.
What drove the last spike? Will the same circumstances appear again in the future? Can you differentiate predictive historic data from one-off scenarios to help anticipate future events?
3.) "Expect the Best Plan for the Worst"
Having a prepared, well coached, and emotionally intelligent support agent to assist customers in positive ways during stressful times can make all the difference in customer loyalty.
When contact channels explode, would you rather your team melt down or make overcoming unexpected and overwhelming call spikes a point of pride? I’d pick the latter every time. Half of that battle is fought with preparation.
The attitude the agent workforce brings to spikes begins well before the volume rises. It begins back with recruiting.
4.) Clearly Communicate
One major lesson I’ve learned from experience is that your approach to communication is critical. Do you have a steadfast coach on the sidelines clearly running through plays or will the team descend into the chaos of school yard rules?
All channels of internal communication need to be clear and the team needs to be kept in the loop – even if the message is hard to deliver. Agents and customers need to know the situation they are working with. Transparency creates trusts. It is better to error on the side of over-communicating.
Make sure information is shared quickly and effectively communicated when rules change or you want to implement a quick work-around. Maintain data to stay ahead of the curve, communicate evolving strategies, keep a shared pool of cross-trained agents, and stay focused on what truly matters: customer loyalty.
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