Handling Spike in Call Volumes During Seasonal Times

A spike in call volumes is one of the major challenges that are regularly faced. The peaks could be planned or unplanned. Managing spikes in call volumes is a crucial task, due to its nature, the spike may not be a mere 20%-30% but often over twice or three times the normal call rates.

Every business usually is prepared for a spike in call volumes and do have their action plans in place, however most of the time, such preparation is not enough, resulting in frustrated & irate customers and mismanaged workers at office.

The way a business handle spikes of 200%-300% more calls per hour that could run into days and weeks or months, this is not an easy task or there are no easy answers, but one can follow best practices that will provide the necessary guidance to businesses that are determined to deliver uncompromised customer service.

There could be many reason for a call spike it totally depends on the business that you run, and the industry that you provide services for, for example, if you provide services for and insurance company you would see spikes majorly during the start of the year where in all the customers would want to renew their policies, or if you service for an Mortgage Lender, these spikes are seen during the start of the year and it goes on till June until customers are done filing their taxes.

Best Practices to be Followed to handle a Spike.

1. Staffing: Adequate staffing is a prime key to provide a good customer service, and a good crisis management team will often suggest hiring of temporary or seasonal staff to handle spikes. This action plan of temporary staffing significantly reduces the pressure on your permanent staff, and minimizes the cost of the extended training.
Outsourcing is another option to manage spikes in calls. It is possible that the overflows do not occur at the same time for two or more Organizations.

2. Forecasting: Forecasting is an important tool that businesses should use to analyze a spike. This data can be availed from the past quarters or years call volume. Usually there are precise patterns to some spikes, this vital forecasting tool is missing in several businesses. For example, some spikes occur in the morning, some in the evening, some during holidays, some on weekends. A careful observation and as I said earlier your own data and the help of professional tools and methods could help managers hire and train people for optimization of customer service.

3. Training & Guidance: Making sure that the team is aware of any fresh product, policy or process updates. Monitor the time spent by team members in resolving customer problems and if they are actually resolving them. Managers need to study the feedback that the customers are frequently requested to provide at the end of the call and act immediately on any shortcoming.

4. Self Service Channels: Self-service options, such as IVR, updates on social media, SMS, emails, online chats and detailed FAQs on the company’s home page, could be a good strategy to reduce spikes in call volumes, because not every customer has an issue that requires a live persons help some can be resolved using such self-service channels.

5. Call Backs: Call-back technology could be useful & helpful option for tackling customer queries. It is normally done by employing ticketing technology to enable a customer to get a call-back. During spikes, call centers mostly ask the callers to send an SMS or email with simple instructions, a code which will register the type of query and the deadline for receiving a call-back.

When used efficiently, call-back technology reduces the irritation of waiting in a queue for the customer and also provides the much-needed time and effort required to handle complaints. At times, analysis of calls could point to similarities in issues and result in a standardized solution that could be sent to customers through mails or SMS.

6. Flyers: This works well when the reason for the spike is anticipated or known. It could be a new process, a product update, or a temporary glitch or defect in the product that has surfaced. Presenting the solution as a message in the queue recording can help to drastically reduce such spikes.

In conclusion, Effective management of this challenge will transform it into an opportunity to increase sales and move a level up against the competition.