The “hair on fire” days of alarms and emergency back-up staff running into the center to log into the ACD to take calls are gone. Workforce Management systems and staffing strategies help managers plan for and react to variable contact volume. Yet even with effective planning, centers still struggle to handle unpredicted volume and peak volume periods.
In this month’s issue of Contact Center Pipeline, I explore the tools of the trade for handling large, unexpected volume and peak volume by reducing agent workload, optimizing staff use, and adding capacity and agility. While I’ll cover the highlights in this post, feel free to download the full article.
To reduce agent workload, use:
- Automated outbound notifications and alerts to provide information your customers need before they have to contact you
- Front end messaging to provide updates on known issues (e.g., outages) or hold times with the option to transfer to the IVR
- The company website to provide sufficient, easily accessible, understandable content at every stage of a customer interaction
- Chat or web collaboration to keep customers on the web and encourage repeat visits
- Web and post-call surveys to determine why customers opted out of self service to speak with agents
- Self-help videos to demonstrate your products or explain how to use your self-service tools
To increase agent efficiency, use:
- Data directed or conditional routing to provide the appropriate caller treatment based on skill requirements, queue status, customer segment, account status, and other business rules
- CTI to “pop” caller account information and save the time needed for manual entry of that information
- Quality Monitoring trends to identify process improvements that save time
- A Unified Agent Desktop application or workflow tool to automate manual processes and remove redundant tasks
- Knowledge Management tools with advanced search functionality, auto response to emails, response templates offering suggested responses and FAQs to enable efficient agent responses to calls, emails and chats
- Instant Messaging for real time collaboration with subject matter experts
To add capacity and agility, use:
- WFM to align shifts with volume arrival patterns
- A remote agent program (and the associated work-at-home technology) to provide scheduling flexibility
- A virtualized technology environment with all staff, regardless of location (home, outsourcer, remote sites, etc.
- Callback functionality to give customers the options of avoiding the long wait on hold (with their places held in queue) or scheduling contact at a later time
With so many possibilities, it may feel hard to know where to begin. Start by reviewing the technology you already have to see if you could do more – either with functionality or performance. Make sure the following “heavy hitters” get on your radar: