Customer support is not an exact science. While it’s certainly necessary to plan schedules in advance, and build the most accurate schedule possible, there will always be times of high call volume, either due to a predictable event – a security patch, a sale, a promotion – or due to unexpected issues such as weather, network outages or a recall. Preparing customer support teams for surges in call and contact volume is one of the jobs managers need to get right. Often, it’s how your organization behaves in a crisis that customers will make or break customer relationships.
Are You Organized?
In a recent blog post, TeamSupport writes that there are several things contact centers and help desks can do to prepare for unexpectedly high call volume. In most cases, they involve making sure that work isn’t being replicated in the rush: this wastes the agent’s time and the customer’s time.
“Sometimes several customers send in questions detailing similar issues,” wrote TeamSupport. “If your business experiences several support requests with the same concern or same solution, assigning parent and child tickets will help manage the large volume. This organizes the similar tickets into one group - one is designated as the parent and the rest are children. Once the issue is solved and the parent ticket is closed, the child tickets close automatically.”
Help desks can also be proactive in cases such as this: if customers are calling about a single issue, it should be easy to find out which customers who haven’t called yet are likely to have the same problem. Ensure that your organization has the right tools to engage in proactive outreach. If you do it right, you should be able to prevent a lot of calls about the same issue in the future.
Are You Omnichannel?
It’s also important to ensure that the communications channels aren’t cut off from one another. Are agents handling chat and email solving the same problems as agents handling phone calls? With a poorly integrated support solution, agents working in each channel may be reinventing the wheel again and again.
“Omnichannel customer support software that consolidates incoming requests from various channels and creates tickets based on their queries is the best way to handle the connected nature of today's customers,” wrote TeamSupport. “Such software minimizes data entry, as agents don't have to create tickets manually for every incoming support request. Instead, they can spend their time directly addressing the tickets that come in.”
Are You Flexible?
During times of high call volume, forcing agents to stick to rigid scripts and procedure rules may work against you. While it’s great to have standards, it’s also important to allow agents to use a little ingenuity to get through problems faster. This often means the ability to collaborate with one another. Ensure your workforce has a way to easily communicate and share knowledge so they can reach out and solve problems faster.
Is Your Self-Service Relevant?
Self-service channels can be an ideal way to help offload sudden call volume. That said, you can’t expect last year’s self-service information to solve today’s problems. Ensure your self-service channels are offering the latest and most relevant information so many customers can solve their issues without even escalating to a live agent.
It would be nice if your customers formed opinions about your quality of support during the best times of low call volume and high service levels. Human nature being what it is, customers are more likely to judge your organization on how it handles a crisis. Is it ready?
Edited by Maurice Nagle