The holidays are a crazy time for call centers. The time to prepare is now.
No, you didn’t look at the calendar wrong—it’s August. But the influx of phone calls is going to start in just a couple of months as the world amps up for holiday shopping. That means that if you haven’t started preparing your call center for the holiday season, now’s the time to start. If there are pumpkin spice lattes at your local coffee shop and you haven’t thought about holiday retail yet, you’ll be too late. You want your call center agents confident that your business has adequately prepared for the holiday season.
Here’s how to prepare your call center for the holidays so that you’re cool, calm, and collected come Christmas.
Look at the call volume you had last year compared to the sales you experienced. Now, look at the sales goals you have for Q4 and try to forecast your call volumes. By knowing the data from previous years, you’ll be able to accurately prepare for this year’s increase.
Hiring seasonal staff for your call center? If you’re trying not to increase wait times or completely stress your permanent staff out, it’s not a bad idea. But the hiring process takes time. If you’re hoping to have people in place by November, that means you need to do training in October, which means interviewing in September. So when should you have jobs posted? That’s right—August. Start whipping up some job descriptions for seasonal employees and make sure you’ll be properly staffed come Thanksgiving.
The more ways you can help customers before they feel the need to call in, the better. Your website’s FAQ section should be updated, as well as some type of online help center that allows people to search for their own answers. Chatboxes can be great additions to websites—they allow more people to be helped in a shorter period of time. Having social media managers at the ready to answer questions through direct messages will be helpful as well.
The worst thing that can happen to a call center during the holidays? Tech issues. A crashing website, failing phone servers, or inadequate tech support will absolutely ruin a business during the holiday season. Beef up your systems ahead of time and make sure everything is up-to-date so that you don’t need to worry about tech bumps in the road. You should always have the phone number of a reliable IT person on hand if you don’t have one on staff.