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How to cope with the holiday season

Mon, March 26, 2012

How to cope with the holiday season

Contact centres are often under extreme pressure during the festive season, says Dino Forte. So with the countdown of shopping days left to Christmas already starting, how will your contact centre take advantage of the rush?

The countdown to the festive season has begun. Whilst we ponder our to-do lists or scratch our heads over what presents to buy, few of us are likely to spare a thought for those thousands of workers that will be stretched to breaking point, in what for many organisations, represents the busiest yet most lucrative time of the year.

In particular, contact centres are often under extreme pressure as seasonal businesses cope with the upsurge in enquiries in the run up to Christmas.

Missing the sales window of opportunity?

Not only do increased sales mean more calls, they can also create a host of associated enquiries such as tracking of parcels and even complaints. Other channels such as email and social media are also part of the equation with rising numbers of consumers choosing to shop on-line and communicate with suppliers electronically. According to the Office of National Statistics 62 per cent of Brits already shop on-line and Visa predicts that this will rise to 74 per cent this Christmas time.

So how does a business prepare to take full advantage of this limited window of opportunity? The most significant challenge is anticipating and planning your resources effectively, so you can process the maximum number of orders and also manage your customers’ expectations.

If you are missing sales calls then clearly you need to take action. Likewise, if you fail to react quickly to post-sales enquiries or complaints then you are in danger of damaging your brand and customer loyalty, not to mention eating away at your short and long-term profits.

Adopt your business to cope with the holiday season: a call to action

However, adjusting your business operation to make the most of a boom period can be tricky. Sometimes it’s difficult or expensive to recruit and train additional staff on a temporary basis. You might also find that you don’t have sufficient office capacity to accommodate more personnel in-house. Technology can also be a stumbling block, because you can’t necessarily justify the capital expenditure on more sophisticated infrastructure, if it’s only being utilised part of the year.

The end result is that many ‘seasonal’ businesses are still under-performing, because there are only so many hours in the day and a finite number of customer representatives.

The advantages of outsourcing: open the window of opportunity

But what if these same businesses could expand their sales team or even extend their opening hours? Outsourcing your customer service and sales management is a viable and cost-effective option that can help either replace or supplement an in-house service centre.

Even if you feel your business requires specialist knowledge you will be surprised at how quickly an outsourcer can get to grips with your products, especially if they already have experience of working in your industry sector. Alternatively you could assess the pressure points in your own business and simply outsource the areas that can be done easily, reserving the more complex enquiries for your own knowledge-based workers.

Outsourcing: achievable within days

The beauty of an outsourcing relationship is that as long as you pick a suitable partner, you can start to capitalise on your additional resource in just a matter of days, so it’s not too late to put an arrangement in place before the rush.

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