7 tips for handling volume spikes in your contact center during the holiday season

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Highlights:

  • Call volumes can rise unexpectedly, but the right strategies help you handle them
  • Cloud-based contact center software gives you the tools you need to support agents and customers
  • The right contact center software has omnichannel flexibility and robust self-service options

 

There are times of the year where you expect high call volumes, especially during the holiday season. Yet, what happens when you see an unexpected spike in call volumes? How can your contact center manage it effectively?

We’ve compiled a list of the top tips for handling unexpected volume spikes in your contact center to maintain an excellent agent and customer experience.

What are some causes of unexpected high call volumes?

There are a number of reasons why a contact center’s call volumes would spike unexpectedly. Sometimes, the causes are external (a manmade or natural disaster such as the global pandemic can lead to canceled flights and hotel reservation, for example). Other times, customers reach out to the contact center in record numbers in response to something the company did (such as an outage or a technical glitch).

How can your contact center cope with high call volumes?

If something happens that leads to high call volumes, here are seven ways your contact center can cope:

  • Use the right contact center software with omnichannel flexibility
  • Scale up operations by adding more seats
  • Schedule your agents effectively
  • Empower your agents to get help when they need it
  • Put a call deflection strategy in place
  • Make sure you offer robust self-service options
  • Offer live chat

Use the right contact center software with omnichannel flexibility

Three decades ago, there was only one way to reach a company – through its call center. Over the years, email became another channel with which customers could connect with a brand.

Today, there are multiple channels – social media, text, video conference, and telephony. Your contact center should offer multiple channels to meet customers’ needs (and also to relieve pressure on the telephone channel).


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What is omnichannel flexibility?

Omnichannel flexibility” means that a customer can switch seamlessly between channels during the same interaction.

For example, someone could call a contact center and then switch to live chat without any information being lost.

Scale up operations by adding more seats

This goes back to having the right contact center software. Cloud-based contact center software makes it easy and quick to scale up your operations.

With cloud-based contact centers leading the way due to their ease of agent onboarding and flexibility, you don’t need a physical contact center anymore to add more seats. Agents can work remotely to handle the increased call volumes.

Schedule your agents effectively

You might feel as though your rising call volumes are a tidal wave coming out of nowhere to crash over you all at once. However, by paying attention to analytics, you can see patterns as to when the highest call volumes occur.

customer representatives

Some cloud-based contact center software gives you insights into the best time to schedule your agents for optimal coverage. Look for a solution that includes workforce management and optimization capabilities. You might notice that the highest call volumes come in the evenings between 8 to 10 pm, for example.

Furthermore, analytics also tell you what issues callers need addressed. Maybe most of the callers are reaching out about returns. That means that you need to schedule agents with experience dealing with returns in the evenings.

Empower your agents to get help when they need it

In traditional call centers, agents sat in a silo. They couldn’t reach out to their colleagues in other departments when a question came up they couldn’t handle. Agents and customers became frustrated at the situation.

Cloud-based contact center software features an internal directory with a presence indicator, so agents can connect with colleagues in other departments who can either better answer questions or take action to help customers.

Moreover, cloud-based contact centers can also support a knowledge base, so agents have access at their fingertips to information that helps them better do their jobs.

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Put a call deflection strategy in place

Call deflection is a technique to transfer incoming calls to another channel, such as live chat or self-service options on the website. When a customer calls a brand, they’ll hear an automated message asking if they’d like to stay on the line or switch to another (faster) channel.

A word about call deflection

There’s some misunderstanding about what call deflection really is. It’s not a strategy to avoid calls completely (although that can be an unintentional side effect).

Also, call forwarding is not call deflection. Call deflection shifts callers to another channel, while call forwarding simply switches them to a different extension.

Make sure you offer robust self-service options

If you want to reduce high call volumes and deflect them to other channels, you must ensure those other channels offer an excellent customer experience.

Chatbots and virtual agents should offer helpful answers to customers, and your knowledge base should contain the information customers seek. Your IVR menu should be integrated with business applications so customers can perform simple actions on their own (like paying bills).

Offer live chat

When done well, live chat can actually improve the customer experience. When agents respond quickly and have the right answers for customers, customers are happy.

To do live chat well, train agents to handle this type of interaction. Success with live chat relies on some of the same factors as other channels: agents need access to resources such as internal experts and a knowledge base.

Built-in analytics in cloud contact center software give you insight into live chat performance, so you can tweak your tactics if necessary.

RingCentral’s omnichannel cloud contact center software helps you handle high call volumes

RingCentral’s omnichannel cloud contact center software offers contact centers the tools they need to handle multiple channels, self-service options, and live chat, no matter what volume of calls occur at any given time. To learn more and see how it all works, get a demo.

RingCentral’s omnichannel cloud contact center software helps you handle high call volumes
RingCentral’s omnichannel cloud contact center software offers contact centers the tools they need to handle multiple channels, self-service options, and live chat, no matter what volume of calls occur at any given time.

Originally published Dec 06, 2021, updated Jun 06, 2022

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