Coming from a background in customer service and client management, you quickly learn the importance of putting the customer first. Regardless of the issue — customer care, acquisition, sales, or collections. Regardless of the channel — phone, web, app, text, email or chat. Our most important job is taking care of our customer.
Day-to-day, most customer operations in contact centers run smoothly. Representatives respond to inquiries, all systems are functional, service levels are met and everyone is happy. What happens when things don’t run smoothly? When some snafu wreaks havoc in your contact center or collection operations? Wait times go up. Customers are upset. Executives are not happy. Employees are burned out.
You can’t prevent disrupting events. But you can have plans in place to assure continuity of service to your customers.
What are some of the common disrupting events?
Workforce Interruption or Suspension: Weather events often cause unsafe travel conditions for employees creating staffing shortages. The ‘bug of the month’ especially during flu season can cause high absenteeism for weeks. And the remaining employees quickly get burned out with back to back calls / transactions and potential overtime requirements. Many other events can cause a reduction or even temporary loss of your workforce.
Self-Service Glitches: When self-service channels such as IVRs, web sites, and apps fail, agents often take on the excessive volume, causing customer response times to increase.
System Conversions: System conversions require your staff to train on the new systems while still continuing to service customers. After conversion, handle times are higher thus reducing the number of calls, emails or chats a representative can handle.
When disruptions occur, here are a few contingency plans to consider:
- Internal Resources: Identifying a group of internal resources to handle contact center duties for a short term can be an effective contingency plan. Prepare your internal team by training them for all applicable work processes and be sure to set aside time regularly for them to refresh and perform their contingency responsibilities.
- Self-Service Support (for Workforce Interruptions): When staffing is low or call volume high, prepare your self-service options to encourage customers to complete inquiries without representative intervention. Even alerting customers to high volume and long waits for representatives can encourage customers to navigate your self service solutions.
- Outsourcing partners: Whether for a short term, known issue such as a system conversion or a long-term permanent plan to support workforce interruptions, outsourcing partners are a great source to tap into. Short term, outsourcing partners can often ramp up staffing in 30-60 days with full servicing including training, quality, operations leadership and reporting. Long term solutions help you to be prepared for the unforeseen events such as illness, spikes in turnover or volume.
There’s not a one size fits all solution for everyone. Your solution may be a mix and match of these suggestions. If adding an outsource partner is an option you’re considering, Radius can help…contact us today.