The Right Plan Makes All the Difference
Call volume events can be major online shopping days to rival Cyber Monday, the release of a new smartphone, or a customer appreciation sale. Whether you’re part of your company’s operations or workforce management team, or if you’re in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, planning for any call volume event can be daunting. Your plan, and how you execute it, will determine the call center’s success.
Five Call Event Guidelines to Keep You Focused
You need to know what to expect, so review as much historical data as you have available. (If you’re a BPO, be sure to ask your client for any available data in enough time to raise questions.) Ask your marketing and sales departments for input on customer response rates. Review your forecast with senior leadership from both operations and workforce management.
As you forecast, remember that call volume may be higher in the days leading up to the event, as customers call in with questions or trying to beat the rush. Conversely, you could have lower than average call volume afterward. And don’t forget to consider the impact these events can have on-call handle time.
2. Agent Schedules
Every call center needs more coverage for special events. You may need to bring in additional agents or ask your regular agents to work more than their normal shifts.
Consider the following questions as you create schedules:
- Is overtime mandatory or on a volunteer basis?
- Will it be necessary to shorten breaks and lunch?
- Can you switch agents’ days off so that most are scheduled to work on the day or days of the event?
- Do you have other hourly employees, such as lead or quality assurance representatives, who can take phone calls? How about supervisors and trainers?
- As you schedule agents to be on the phone, think about how many other staffers you’ll need available to assist agents with questions and escalated calls.
More than likely, you will need to reduce lunch breaks, leaving your team no time to run out for food or even grab something from the vending machines. If you have the budget, look into providing a meal for each agent. Shop around for the best price, order in advance, and have the food delivered throughout the day.
If you have a smaller budget, try to arrange for at least drinks and snacks. And if there’s no money, consider a potluck. Management can provide plates, cups, and utensils, and you can create a sign-up sheet so workers don’t bring in too many items from one category.
This is where it’s time to get creative. It’s going to be a busy day, and the activities you plan should motivate your agents not only to come to work but also to stay for the duration of their shift or longer. For instance, you could raffle off an Apple Watch or hand out certificates for additional dress-down days. Whenever possible, tie prizes to desired outcomes or KPIs, such as call handling time or conversions.
Schedule attainment jumps off the page as something to always focus on partnered with sales conversion for marketing and sales events.
From the beginning, get out there and talk to your agents and front-line support staff. Announce the upcoming call volume event as soon as possible. Explain what you need from everyone to make the event successful. Describe the activities you’ve planned. Ask for a show of hands of who will be there. And if you can afford it, let everyone know that lunch is on you.
Tap into iQor’s experience in seasonal and event-driven call volume spikes. Contact us to learn more.
Robert Sloma, Jr. is a senior workforce manager at iQor.