Tue, February 07, 2023
Contact centres are some of the busiest work environments in the world. During peak demand periods – such as the seasonal sales period, for example – it’s often necessary to change strategy or increase staffing just to cope with the volume of calls, and other types of contacts, being received.
If you choose to handle peak demand in-house, as opposed to outsourcing, you’ll be facing a number of issues. Periods of high activity will need to be assimilated into everyday work without overburdening existing staff.
Planning ahead for peak times is an important part of workforce management. Even if circumstances change or unforeseen events cause spikes in demand, you should have systems in place to deal with the consequences.
For contact centres managing peak demand in-house, ramping up your operations - often temporarily - is an effective way to optimise your workforce management during busy periods.
To optimise your workforce management in the best way possible, it’s vital you try and predict when your peak times will be. Could this be weekly, monthly, annually? Do certain events trigger a spike? Which seasons bring the most demand?
Research into previous company data will give you an idea of when your peaks and troughs are. With this data, a predictive model can be made to more accurately forecast the next three, six, or twelve months. This falls into the scope of your workforce management or resource planning team.
Once your predictions are made, further research into what actually drives peak demand is needed. This is vital to understand the phenomenon and allows you to better plan ahead and make adjustments to support ongoing flexibility in the workplace.
Providing your workforce management team with accurate data allows them to optimise your contact centre’s staffing schedules to manage peak demand. They will likely suggest a number of solutions, including internal recruiting or temporary overflow outsourcing.
If you are unable to manage your peaks with your current staffing levels, outside hiring always remains an option. A temporary workforce can alleviate the stress on your full-time agents, allowing greater flexibility of work for all during seasonal peaks.
But in the modern job climate, recruiting for a temporary role can be extremely difficult. Skilled candidates likely already have other jobs, and aren’t going to give up a full-time position for a three-month one. That said, here are three things you can do to ensure your temporary recruitment process is as optimised as possible:
After the hiring process comes the onboarding phase. New staff require adequate training to ensure they do their job correctly and feel confident in their role. If you take shortcuts during this stage, expect poor employee engagement, inadequate results, and more frequent resignations.
Make sure you give your new staff enough time to learn your brand and company culture. Encouraging them to form bonds between colleagues, team leaders, and managers will improve their motivation, productivity, and engagement. This all leads to an optimal performance and gives leaders the reassurance they need to allow greater flexibility in the workplace, even during peak times.
Naturally, the speed to competency for new staff members depends on a number of metrics, including the complexity of the job role and your quality expectations. That said, you can reduce the time it takes for employees to work unsupervised by focusing intensely on the initial tasks that will be required of them, as a minimum to get them started with live calls quickly. After that you can build up to more complex tasks and interaction types gradually. This will produce more productive results than throwing them in at the deep end, will produce more productive results.
Once your new staff are up to speed and handling live interactions, there are a number of measures you can put in place to make everyone’s work more efficient. During peak times any help you can give staff, by reducing AHT (average handling time) or helping them work more productively, is going to have a big impact on your ability to meet your service level targets and your customers’ expectations.
At the end of your peak period, it’s important to arrange for a dignified goodbye to your temporary workers, as you might need them again in the future. There will be another peak demand season, and previous temporary employees make perfect candidates when re-hiring for next year’s seasonal spike.
Or if you have vacancies within your company, hire the staff members that impressed you during their seasonal employment. You’ll further optimise your workforce as when the next peak time comes along, you’ll already have trained and experienced staff who know how to handle the situation.
Give your staff the flexibility to attend interviews during the later stages of their temporary employment, or recommend them to other companies you know are hiring. However you say farewell to your temporary staff members, it’s important you leave on good terms.
There are multiple ways to manage peak demand in your contact centre. In this article we have looked at how to ramp in-house, however other options include self-service and outsourcing.
WhitepaperThe ultimate guide to managing peak demand in your contact centre
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