November is the heart of autumn and is often referred to as the season of plenty. The overflowing cornucopia that sits at American Thanksgiving tables is a fantastic visual representation of this. However, if you work in retail - or in the closely-related field of customer service - you know that this time of year is more like the season of plenty of customer service tickets!
Handling all of that increased call traffic can be stressful - especially if your contact center isn’t properly prepared. Here’s what you need to know about the boom in customer service tickets you can expect this season and how to give every person who calls your center the best possible experience.
First - What is a Customer Service Ticket?
You may be wondering what a customer service ticket is. These days, it isn’t a term that is used by every person on the staff at your contact center - but it is still very much something that your staff is using.
Customer service tickets are the information collected during an interaction with a caller or client. That information is inputted directly into the system that your agents are using and can be recalled at any time to better serve consumers in the future.
But why are they called tickets? In the days before call center automation and the widespread use of internet-enabled computer technology in contact centers, the information on these tickets was literally written on a small ticket. From there, the information could be physically cataloged or could be input into the center’s system just like today - although, in those days, it was a much more difficult and much longer process.
Why are Customer Service Tickets Surging in November and December?
At first glance, it is easy to believe that the only reason for the surge in customer service tickets that occurs during November and December is the holiday shopping season and the need to assist in sales and order fulfillment. However, the issue is more complex - and can be much more stressful for call center agents than many might believe.
During this busy season of plenty, people have a lot of complaints, concerns, and questions. The purpose of customer service call centers is to address those concerns promptly and properly. Those issues include a variety of motivations for calling, including but not limited to:
- Problems placing orders.
- Concerns about poor customer service due to overwhelmed agents or support staff.
- Questions about seasonal sales and specials.
- Complaints about discounts and promotions not meeting expectations.
- Concerns about shipping and handling after orders are placed.
- Complaints about products ordered that do not meet expectations or are damaged or defective.
- Requests for returns, exchanges, or refunds.
- Problems with product setup, questions about instructions, and more.
With so many reasons to call, it’s no wonder customer service contact centers experience a giant boost in customer service tickets during this season.
How to Handle the Increased Call Traffic in Your Center
So, how do you manage the increased number of calls and customer service tickets your center will experience during the holiday season? Here are a few tips from industry insiders to help you handle it all:
- Spruce up your forecasting. Forecasting is an important tool in preparing for increased call volume. By using data you already have at your disposal, your staff can create projections related to what kind of numbers you will see in terms of both incoming calls and the number of staff members you will need to meet that increased demand.
- Improve your staffing approach. Once your forecasts are in place, you can better approach your staffing. Putting agents into seats and onto phone lines when and where they are needed is the result of careful consideration - especially during peak seasons. Lean on your forecasts to create better schedules and allow agents to collaborate with management members when creating schedules that work for everyone.
- Hire seasonal help. Lots of people are looking for seasonal employment during the holidays. If you are searching for a way to staff your center for increased seasonal needs - but aren’t looking to hire a lot of permanent employees - choose the seasonal hiring route.
- Or, scale your current staff as needed. A much better and more economical approach to filling out your call center staff during this peak season is to scale your staff accordingly. Most modern contact centers employ remote call center agents; these agents are an asset when it comes to scaling. Simply pull off-phone workers into the fold as needed and let them take time off when they aren’t required. This makes it easy to scale your operations on almost a moment’s notice -and without additional hiring or training costs.
- Train ahead of time and employ that training in stressful seasonal scenarios. Your agents need to be well-versed in company policy and customer service approaches before they can field the many calls that you will receive during the holidays. Likewise, they will need to be experienced and proficient in keeping calls concise yet personable, so more customers can be served in less time without sacrificing customer satisfaction. To do all of this, you will need to provide them with ample training - as well as regular reminders of the techniques your center advocates and how to employ them.
- Monitor and evaluate as you go. To improve the performance of agents, your management team members will need to monitor their calls and evaluate the service they are providing regularly. This way, problems can be caught before they have a major impact on customer service - and feedback can be offered effectively based on actual customer interactions.
For more information on the tools and technology that your center needs to handle a seasonal influx of customer service tickets, contact the industry experts at ChaseData. We have everything you need to outfit your center with the best software and solutions and prepare your agents to provide excellent service for every caller. For more information, give us a call today!