The winter holidays are the most stressful time of year for many businesses. This is certainly true of contact centers, especially given that so many inbound call centers are in the field of customer service. During the holiday season, consumers will have questions, complaints, and concerns about everything from gift orders to unclear product instructions and even returns.
With the massive seasonal influx of call traffic your center is likely to receive, how will your call center scheduling rise to meet the challenge? Here are some tips to keep your center well-stocked with agents when the occasion calls for it - as well as how to avoid wasted labor costs when traffic dies down again.
Cash In on the Seasonal Search for Temporary Employment
During November and December - the exact months in which your contact center’s call volume is likely to explode - many people are looking for temporary employment. Take advantage of this search for extra holiday cash by offering temporary, part-time positions to fill out your workforce and ensure you always have agents on hand to field calls during busy days.
Hire Based on Availability
When doing your seasonal hiring, always ask about availability. Some temporary employees may be able to work weekends, evenings, or even overnight shifts without issues, while others will need traditional daytime hours. Hire the people you need based on what they can offer in terms of availability.
Schedule Based on Skill
While you should hire based on availability, your call center scheduling should be based more on skill. Put agents who are great at handling more complex consumer interactions on the schedule during hours when this is more likely. Schedule newer, less experienced agents during times when they are less likely to encounter this type of call.
Put Some Flexibility Into Your Call Center Scheduling
Call center agents can add value to your scheduling without actually being present. That’s because these days, remote call center agents are just as big a part of most centers’ teams as on-site agents. Utilize remote work in your call center scheduling to offer employees more flexibility during a season when they are already looking for more time at home with loved ones. They will return the favor with more availability and productivity - a real win-win!
Prioritize Scheduling Top-Performing Agents During Peak Hours
To make the most of the agents you currently have, determine who your top performers are across all areas and in specific elements of customer service. Then, schedule those agents into leadership positions in all shifts. This will give consumers and clients a higher chance of interacting with an excellent representative - and newer employees someone to model their work after.
Adjust Breaks, Lunches, and Other Off-the-Clock Periods - With Incentives for Rescheduling
Breaks are an important part of your employees’ days, especially during the holiday season. They need that time to refresh their bodies and minds and keep them focused during the time that they are actively working. However, breaks that are dispersed sporadically across the timeline of a day can really hamper productivity - especially when a large group of agents takes those breaks at once!
During the busiest days, offer incentives for agents to adjust their schedules based on company needs. This may mean taking an earlier lunch to be available for a projected swell in call volume later or taking later breaks - or even multiple, shorter breaks. Whatever you ask of your agents, ensure that you compensate with some kind of reward for volunteering to meet your needs. They will be more likely to do so and you won’t be left with agents who are upset about having to adjust their schedule on the fly.
Make Call Center Scheduling a Team Effort
During the holidays, everyone in your center will have events, family time, religious observances, and cultural traditions that you will have to take into account when creating schedules. Realistically, it isn’t possible for you to remember them all - or even consider them all if they were presented to you in black and white.
Luckily, your agents are likely more than willing to help you with their scheduling. Allow agents of similar levels of experience and training the opportunity to swap shifts, adjust hours, and generally create their own scheduling experience during this hectic season. It will take a lot of work off of your to-do list - and keep your center humming along with people who are available to fill seats.
Reward Agents for Schedule Adherence
Do you have agents who are always at work, always on time, and always perform well - even during the busiest season? Reward them with a little extra in their holiday bonus or by providing recognition and celebration for them that matches the sentiments of the season. They will continue to impress you as a result.
Remember to Respect Holidays and Family Time
Above all, remember that your agents are humans with families and important religious and cultural traditions at this time of year. The more you make allowances for that with your call center scheduling now, the more likely you are to retain your agents into the new year!
Use Today’s Best Software to Make Workforce Management Easier
How are you supposed to handle all of these details when it comes to your call center scheduling? If you utilize modern workforce management software, you won’t have to do much. Simply input all of the information you have about your agents’ availability and capability and your software will provide optimal scheduling suggestions. From there, you and your team can adjust as needed. Doesn’t that sound like a simplified season?
For the software and other tools you need to make your call center scheduling a happier part of the holidays, contact the industry experts at ChaseData. We have everything you need to better manage your workforce and keep your call center productive, efficient, and cheerful this season and beyond. For more information give us a call today!