Making sure your contact centre can cope at Christmas

    Anyone who has faced a busy high street in December could well argue that Christmas is the season of goodwill. But when it comes to Christmas eve and you’re one of the stampede rushing for those last minute presents, some of that sentiment can go out of the window.

    Retailers know this more than anybody and this month more than ever customer service needs to deliver on that Christmas cheer. However, with the increasingly multichannel nature of Christmas shopping, retailers must do much more than simply putting more staff on the shop floor.

    As the contact centre becomes the core of the customer-focussed business, so it is impacted by all the additional customer demand that peaks over the Christmas period. Focus on three core areas to make sure that your contact centre can not only cope, but deliver the high level of service your customers will expect.

    Cloud-based workforce flexibility

    One of the biggest benefits of cloud-based contact centre solutions is the flexibility they can afford you. Without the same hardware or licensing restrictions, you can rapidly shift from (for instance) 30 to 80 seats, so optimising your agent numbers to deal with the extra volume of enquiries is not an issue.

    It also means that your agents don’t necessarily need to be sat in your contact centre. Roads are busier over the Christmas period, not helped by the increase in retailers fulfilling huge volumes of deliveries, to the point where Amazon is even trialling Sunday delivery. This, along with the usual winter weather, makes travelling potentially hazardous, time-consuming or not possible at all. Allowing your agents to log into your contact centre system from home ensures an almost instant response to peaks in demand that simply wouldn’t be possible if they had to travel to work. 

    Be available on multiple channels

    Increasingly, this rule applies at all times of the year, but it has an added importance over the festive period. Mobile use in particular, surges. In fact ‘mobile’ can be a slight misnomer, as the majority of people actually browse online using mobile devices whilst at home, and most people are at home over Christmas.

    Last year, Boxing Day was not only the biggest year ever for UK ecommerce (showing customer demand does not necessarily ease off once December 25th has passed), it was also a huge day for mobile traffic as people sat at home watching TV and browsing on phones and tablets.

    This means that you can expect to see not only greater volume of communication, but greater variation in communication channels over the period than at other times. More mobile means more email and social, it means your live chat should be mobile and tablet friendly, as well as the possibility your customers may use their smartphones in their traditional capacity; as a phone.

    Integrate closely

    We've mentioned the increased volume in retail delivery over Christmas, which highlights the need for full details about your supply chain and deliveries integrated with your contact centre software.

    Along with a robust CRM integration this should ensure your contact centre staff have all the information they need to handle whatever Christmas customers can throw at them. When a customer gets in touch two days before Christmas to ask where their mum's present is, you want your agent to be able to tell them instantly, with as much detail as possible.

    The festive period can be a challenging one, but it can also be hugely fruitful for businesses. With the right technology approach within your contact centre you can ensure that your staff, and your customers, have a happy Christmas.