Ah, Christmas and Hanukkah – that time of year when thoughts turn to visions of sugar plums, flying reindeer, mistletoe and virtual contact centers.
According to industry journal Hindu Business Line, job portal Naukri.com recently reported that hiring activities have “surged across all sectors in November due to a seasonal spike in recruitment.”
No doubt virtual contact centers are driving much of this growth. Long a prime location for call centers, India has benefited from the ability of a virtual contact center to quickly ramp up – and down – as needed for seasonal fluctuations.
Virtual contact centers are used year-round by companies looking to avoid such problems as on-site disasters or poor weather conditions, or just for efficiency. My Twinn, a high-end doll manufacturer, switched to using virtual contact centers years ago, and company officials reported that in the first year, 2000, “30 percent more inquiry calls were converted to orders, employee turnover decreased 88 percent and 90 percent fewer calls had to be escalated compared to 1999.”
A virtual contact center is ideal for handling such seasonal spikes as Mother’s Day for florists, and pretty much the entire retail industry for the holiday rush, since the agents don’t work from the provider’s building, but from different geographical locations – usually from their homes. This keeps overhead for the provider low, and the flexibility of working from home when one has the time makes it an attractive job for those looking to pick up a bit of money to help with the January credit card bills.
Such flexibility and scalability is most critical in the retail industry, which obviously has the most acute need for extra Christmas help in adjusting staffing levels in real-time to ensure calls are handled promptly so the company’s brand reputation remains intact. As an example of how critical they can be, My Twinn uses over 400 customer support employees during Christmas, and about 25 the rest of the year.
Yes, ‘tis the season for virtual contact centers.
While retail is by far the biggest user of virtual contact centers during the holidays, other industries rely on them as well. Cunningham Lindsey UK, a loss adjusting and claims management company, recently rolled out virtual contact center technology from NewVoiceMedia (News - Alert) across its 24/7 customer help lines.
Not that there’s suddenly a rush to give insurance policies as stocking stuffers: “The claims management and loss adjusting business needs to manage the upsurge in call volumes that often occur around Christmas due to extreme weather events,” company officials explain.
Cunningham Lindsey’s Bristol-based IT service center staff experimented with the use of virtual contact centers in the past, and they worked so well the company is expanding their use to their emergency helpline service, located in the Welsh city of Cardiff.
Yes, we imagine driving home after the office holiday party with a bit too much eggnog would prompt a bit of a seasonal surge.
David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin