Holiday season can mean a couple different things for your business. Some of your employees might ask to take holidays and need replacing. Also, many businesses experience increased sales and call traffic over the holidays. Whether your call center gets overstaffed or understaffed, busier or quieter during this season, these tips will help to make sure that your holiday season comes and goes with no surprise.

Get Your Office Ready for Whatever the Holidays Bring

Manpower

Big retailers should always expect a significant increase in callers over the holidays. In fact, even with extra agents the average email-response times from Target and Amazon increased by over an hour last year, during this period. Conversely, GameStop managed to decrease their call wait-time to less than half of their usual; from over 11 minutes on-average, to just 4 minutes in the same time-frame. As you’d expect, GameStop saw a significant spike in customer retention and satisfaction, not to mention sales. This shows that even the largest corporations have difficulty predicting holiday traffic.

If your agents ask for a holiday and/or you expect calls to increase, then you should consider looking into temporary call center agents. If you already have a system for this, you can skip down to the section on Inventory. Otherwise, you’re going to need some guidance on how you can pick up the necessary manpower for the upcoming holiday season. The first decision you’ll face is between sourcing and filtering the applicants yourself or hiring an agency that specializes in filling temporary job openings. These ‘temp agencies’ sift through their stacks of candidates for those best-suited to your specific job offer. If you’d like to find the extra agents yourself, you can register a booth at a job fair or use listing sites like craigslist and Kijiji (in Canada). Google ‘Call Center Jobs ’ to find popular listing agencies in your area.

Inventory

Some call centers and warehouses work very closely together; sometimes even under the same roof. It’s key to have a clear channel between the two, so you can stock up on inventory when opportunities like the holidays comes around. Make a judgement based on sales trends from this year and previous holiday seasons. This way you can keep extra inventory of popular products. After-all, if a customer can’t be guaranteed delivery on-time for the holidays, you might lose the sale.

Hours

Consider extending you call center’s hours of availability to account for last-minute calls and gift purchases. If you aren’t sure if this will be worthwhile, track the number of calls that your business receives over its off-hours and base your decision on those trends.

Call-back

Even if you’ve done everything right until this point, there really is no predicting the holiday traffic. You might want to offer your callers the option to receive a call-back from the next available rep; this can be setup to activate during peak times or after a certain length on hold. Or both! If you don’t have a message on hold system yet, we’d recommend using our sister company, Audio Images Marketing, for your on hold services.

And the most important thing you can do this holiday season…

Take care of your staff!

This is high-season for stress. The whole office is busier and everyone’s being worked a bit harder. Taking care of the hard-workers that bare the brunt of the holiday spike is one of the most vital aspects to a successful holiday season.

1) Coffee, cookies, and similar little snacks
2) Gifts for employees & their families
3) Stress reduction stations
4) Team-building activities
5) Allow them to socialize a bit more than usual
6) Have a themed day
7) Have a themed meal/s
8) Get in spirit and celebrate the holidays!

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