Managing the Holiday Rush in the Contact Center


That time of year is well underway: when familiar jingles inhabit the radio, all your cups are red and white, and the scent of pine is ever-present. Yes, it’s the holiday season, and while you may have already been flying high on holiday spirit for quite some time, the contact center seems to bear the brunt of the magical mayhem.

With the holidays upon us, increased consumer behavior will lead to a spike in contact center activity. Thanks to the rise of mobile shopping, and the phenomenon that is Cyber Monday, the holidays now represent one of the busiest times of the year for contact centers—not only are more people shopping and consuming this time of year, and therefore finding themselves in need of the contact center, but more people are getting gifts that they may or may not want or having service issues or reasons to reach out to the contact center.

Now, while painful, these spikes in customer volume actually present companies with the opportunity to uncover weaknesses in their contact center strategy. For instance, take multichannel contact: are you able to provide your customers with top-notch service in their preferred channel? Or what about workforce optimization: do you have the flexibility to integrate remote agents or adjust your scheduling to accommodate the season’s heavy traffic?

What’s more, on top of the mere increase in volume, contact centers must deal with people who are more stressed during the holiday season (for reference, think about your own Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners). As a result, first-call resolution is an even more crucial metric than usual—because as the clock ticks down toward the holidays, people become much less forgiving of inefficient operations and repeated calls.

With these raised expectations, contact centers must ensure they are prepared for the ensuing onslaught of customers—both in terms of software and their agent pool—and capable of providing fast turnarounds and better performance during this high-stress, heavy-volume time. Customers will be calling, emailing, Tweeting, chatting, and Facebooking any and all comments, questions, or complaints that enter their minds. Only those contact centers equipped for such efficiency are going to be able to weather the impending storm with flying colors.

The holiday stress test can be a valuable proving ground for the contact center, with the lessons you learn in December informing what strategic upgrades you make in January.

What is your company doing to manage the holiday rush? Let us know in the comment section.

Chris O'Brien