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The holiday season for contact centers naturally brings an increase in calls as customers seek support for their major purchases from holiday sales. To avoid creating negative customer experiences during this critical period, many organizations nearly double or triple their staff to accommodate this influx. Typically, this requires employing a significant remote workforce or opening physical centers for incoming customer interactions.

This year contact centers are already handling more calls than usual as shoppers are no longer interacting face-to-face with store associates. Shoppers are now utilizing their phones to access support for sales and information, and for any follow-up questions or concerns after completing a transaction. That makes this holiday season even more challenging for contact centers already burdened by a year of unprecedented traffic.

The 2020 holiday shopping season will require organizations to consider many factors for how to best prepare their contact center for the upcoming spike in customer interactions. One of the most critical steps in preparing for the rush is to identify potential customer pain points and ways to proactively alleviate those anticipated challenges. It is also important to explore innovative ways of improving internal contact center operations.

Address Common Pain Points That Create Customer Tension

Depending on their unique journey, your customers may encounter a wide range of challenges when interacting with your brand. These challenges, or pain points, can negatively impact your customers’ overall perception of your brand, and your ability to maintain strong relationships with them. While customer pain points vary from brand to brand and journey to journey, the most common include lengthy wait times, awkward processes and inconsistent messaging or information.

To identify specific points of customer tension or frustration, review any feedback you’ve collected from your customers in the past year. This valuable feedback may show that customers are frustrated by lengthy wait times or extended call handling, indicating that their time is not respected or used wisely. You may also uncover negative trends relating to your processes or policies.

Using this feedback, identify initial points of improvement. If feedback is focused on wait times or agent availability, consider adding staff or extending your contact center’s operating hours. Any feedback associated with processes

It’s also important to consider employee feedback, as it may point to internal processes contributing to the issues your customers are facing. Agents may indicate that they have too much work to do after each call, slowing down their ability to quickly transition to a new customer. They could also provide feedback on what components of their process make call handling difficult or where they feel more training or resources may benefit.

Remember, the goal here is to make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you, and for your employees to do their assigned jobs. Eliminating potential pain points for all stakeholders will accomplish this critical goal.

Optimize Your Contact Center This Holiday Season

When prepping your contact center for the holidays, it is important to consider opportunities that you will be able to execute quickly and sustain moving forward. Strategies for optimizing your contact center for the holidays include:

  • Strategically placing top agents: Consider where your top agents will be the most useful when interacting with customers and position them to provide the best and most efficient experience. Identify which agents will be best suited for outbound and inbound calls and dedicate their time there. Leveraging intelligent call routing can help to ensure that qualified and experienced agents’ field specialized interaction requests from customers.
  • Integrating an IVR tool: IVR systems are great for reducing wait times as they can redirect callers to specific agents to get a quick or straightforward question answered. This removes a caller from the queue quickly and keeps the wait time lower for customers with more complex needs. Some IVR systems can also be used to provide general information, such as estimated shipping times or alternative ways to seek assistance.
  • Utilizing digital platforms: An employee can only handle one call at a time but may be able to answer multiple chats or emails simultaneously. Assigning specific agents to focus solely on chat, social and email questions will improve the effectiveness of those channels while also opening phone lines for those who need to speak with someone directly.
  • Providing additional service options: Many customers dread being placed on hold for extended periods. Offering your customers different options for addressing their unique concern, including a chat, callback, or email option, may help avoid a lengthy hold period while they wait for an available agent.

Effectively optimizing your contact center for the holiday rush can also set you on the path for transforming your business and the experiences you provide your customers long-term.

How Avtex Can Help You Get There

Preparing for the holiday season can seem like a load of work for a short period of time, but it could also be the catalyst for transforming your organization's approach to running a contact center. Taking the time to evaluate contact center operations enables your business to get the tools in place to create exceptional experiences for your customers year-round.

At Avtex, our teams are equipped with the information and resources needed to help you make your processes efficient, straightforward and frictionless for your agents and, in return, give them the ability to serve your customers best. If your business is looking to make changes to your contact center – whether for the holiday rush or for the long-term success of your brand – we can help.

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