6 Ways to Avoid Communications Meltdown This Holiday Season6 Ways to Avoid Communications Meltdown This Holiday Season
Retailers are focusing heavily on marketing and merchandising for the holiday shopping season, but many lack the tools to cover the entire shopper experience. By moving to a cloud-based phone service, businesses can better enable themselves to provide superior customer care this holiday season. Here are six tips that companies can consider to ensure effective communications systems during the busiest time of the year.
December 4, 2014
By Easy Office Phone Guest Blog 2
The National Retail Federation predicts that U.S. retail sales this holiday season may see the biggest increase in three years (by 4.1 percent), and online sales are expected to grow between 8 and 11 percent over last season. While retailers are focusing heavily on marketing and merchandising for the holiday shopping season, many lack the foresight to implement the tools needed to cover the entire shopper experience — from point of purchase to consumer care.
As retailers are well aware, a surge of customer returns and requests immediately follows the shopping blitz. Businesses must start preparing now to ensure that call centers are prepared to deal with increased customer requests. As such, it’s important for companies to have the proper communications systems in place to handle consumer demands efficiently and effectively.
By moving to a cloud-based phone service, businesses can better enable themselves to provide superior customer care this holiday season. Below are six tips that companies can consider to ensure effective communications systems during the busiest time of the year:
Install call queuing — Queues are a powerful tool for handling calls in an orderly and efficient manner. Call queuing allows you to distribute calls to multiple staff members as calls arrive, and will also hold calls in priority sequence if all agents are occupied. You can easily change which agents belong to a given queue, and even offer call preference to your top performers using skills-based routing.
Broadcast approximate wait times — Assume that your shoppers are not patient enough to tolerate a reasonable hold time. Be sure to provide them with a rough idea of when they can expect to reach an agent. This feature is easy to implement through your phone service provider’s Web interface.
Consider “spillover” queues — Anticipate that at some point your staff will feel overwhelmed by the flood of customer calls. To alleviate this challenge, a spillover or backup queue will receive those excess calls and pass them to a second group of agents who are standing by as contingency.
Set target service levels — Responsiveness is critical during peak shopping periods. Determine an optimum response time, and the target service levels feature will report how frequently your targets are actually being met in practice.
Use tracking and reporting tools — Use deep tracking and reporting tools to understand how your contact center teams are performing across a wide range of metrics, including areas for improvement. Remember to make these evaluations in advance of the busiest days so you can make any needed adjustments without added pressure. Metrics can include total number of calls, how many calls were answered versus abandoned, average hold time and average call length. A good tracking and reporting suite will enable you to easily export data to your favorite spreadsheet format.
Have a fallback plan — To cover the unlikely scenario that no agents will pick up in time, ensure that queues ultimately terminate in a mailbox with an appropriate greeting. Upon reaching this mailbox, customers should hear a recording that assures them their calls will be returned within a certain time frame. This mailbox should be constantly monitored, and any messages within should be responded to promptly.
By implementing the right tools and communications systems ahead of the holidays, retailers can ensure that business and customer care run smoothly during this year’s biggest revenue-generating season.
Adam Simpson is the CEO and co-founder of Easy Office Phone, where he oversees the creation of new sales channels, including a North American Dealer Program; plays a leading role in software development; manages the company’s network infrastructure; and builds dedicated teams of sales, support and engineering staff. Under Simpson’s leadership, Easy Office Phone has grown rapidly and steadily into a highly respected provider of Hosted PBX service to clients throughout Canada and North America since its launch in 2005.
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