Manage Those Spikes for Maximum Customer Satisfaction
How can you keep customers happy? It’s a difficult enough question to answer during periods of “normal” activity—and even more challenging during busy times, when activity spikes. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to accurately predict and staff to meet the exact needs of your brand at any given time? It’s pretty tough to do. No matter the industry, no matter the location, no matter the value proposition—all brands experience spikes in activity. It’s especially difficult for brands that have seasonal peaks, like floral delivery around Valentine’s Day, and those with expected busy times that still are difficult to forecast for, such as pizza delivery around the Super Bowl. The trick is how to adequately staff so that customers have a good experience while the brand maintains a high level of profitability.
There are a number of strategies brands can implement to manage staffing to handle customer interactions during peak times. The top five are:
Know your “spikes” (as best you can) during peak seasons.
Leverage history. If it’s happened before, it will likely happen again. Research your historical trends including contact volume, transaction volume and performance KPIs and use these as the basis to forecast expected contact volume, staffing requirements or even additional IT capacity required to support future busy spikes.
Identify ways to handle the spikes.
Spikes are inevitable so plan as much as possible. After you’ve determined what’s needed during known busy periods, take stock. Look at any and all ways your brand can manage an increase in activity while maintaining service quality and customer satisfaction.
Integrate technology wherever possible to increase capacity.
Is your brand taking full advantage of the technologies and tools available to manage inbound inquiries—not just during spikes, but all the time? Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), is a fantastic tool. It allows for customers to communicate with contact center agents via audio, video or text using just a web browser. With no hardware requirements or software to download, users can get started immediately—and brands can reap the benefits.
Integrating social media channels is another way to manage spikes. Answering one question via Facebook or Twitter may head-off hundreds or thousands of subsequent inquiries. There are countless other technologies and tools out there too…see what works best for your brand.
Evaluate BPO outsourcing partners to handle spikes beyond your internal capacity.
Despite the best efforts to plan ahead, sometimes demand will outstrip capacity. And that’s not a bad thing, necessarily—hey, it means your brand is in demand! Make sure it stays in demand by meeting customer needs for timely service and support. One way to manage unforeseen spikes in activity is by partnering with a BPO provider.
ProFlowers, for example, is a leading online flower delivery service serving more than seven million customers. It is the very definition of a “spiky” business, with holidays and special events bringing increased demand on top of the standard activity. ProFlowers determined its best course of action was to incorporate a cloud-based contact center platform with a team of on-demand independent agents—both from LiveOps. The agents can be quickly scaled up or down, depending on order volume. That means ProFlowers can deliver not only beautiful flowers, but consistent and responsive customer service as well.
Introduce gamification to promote healthy competition and fun during known “spiky” times, such as holidays.
Everyone enjoys a challenge—and if it’s a challenge that keeps people engaged and motivated at work, all the better. Gamification, with achievements leading to rankings on leaderboards with the accompanying bragging rights (and possibly tangible prizes), is a remarkably effective motivation tool.
More details on all of these tips are included in my recent article for ICMI. Plan ahead for those “spiky” times as best you can—and remember those spikes mean customers want what your brand is providing. That means even spiky days are good days.
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