There are two types of business leaders as Q4 approaches — those that are sweating the possibility of high volume activity in Q4 and those looking forward to it.
But why would anyone worry about potentially high sales volume?
It’s because the ongoing labor shortage, paired with increased Q4 purchasing, is leaving many businesses that rely on contact center support exposed to looming CX disasters. This includes excessive hold times, overwhelmed agents, poor customer satisfaction, and ultimately brand harm.
Look no further than the travel industry, which is already reeling to meet Q4 demand spikes and record call volume. Delta Airlines is hiring 5,000 professionals to help support their customers, but still expects lengthy hold times (some as long as 9 hours) to persist into the fall.
But luckily, there’s still time for you to get prepared for Q4 — before it’s too late.
Try These 3 Contact Center Strategies for Q4 Success
Tip the Scales with Technology
No matter the offering, businesses are competing against their competitors not just in price and product, but also in customer experience. And one of the most promising CX developments is the growing tech landscape that makes it easier to mitigate the impact of high call volumes and unexpected spikes that are looming in Q4.
That’s because nearly 40% of current incoming call volume can be handled entirely with automated, self-service channels, according to a business leader survey from Gartner.
The most powerful technology pairings in 2021 include call deflection, AI, and automation systems that work in harmony. And, there’s still time to get these implemented before the height of the Q4 crunch…if you get started right away.
But what do these specific technologies actually do?
Call Deflection: This technology strategy diverts incoming calls to digital channels instead of bogging down your live agent queues. For example, if a customer mentions “shipment details” from a number that pairs with a recent order, your call deflection system can automatically update the caller on incoming delivery details.
Emphasizing self-service via call deflection allows you to automate customer engagements across sales, support, product info, etc. — and it works in the background, away from your live agents, freeing them to concentrate their attention on their more complex customer inquiries.
The result is deeper, more powerful customer journeys. And the available CX scenarios a business can optimize for are truly limitless.
Contact Center AI: You’re probably familiar with IVR (Interactive Voice Response), which can take semantic cues to direct customers through self-service channels. Just think “Press 1 for…” But the next evolutionary step within contact center AI is through IVAs (Intelligent Voice Assistants) or even chatbots, which leverage sophisticated speech and language intelligence to engage in more human, personalized ways. “I understand you’re having trouble with a payment. Let me help?”
IVA technology is a cog in a larger AI umbrella that is making self-service more accessible for customers to solve even more complex requests than ever before. So if you have specific AI goals, you should definitely consult on your options with an expert contact center partner.
Waiting is the Hardest Part (But It Doesn’t Have to Be)
Customers have not only come to expect inevitable wait times — they’ve come to loathe them.
When faced with unanticipated hold times and slow inquiry resolution. It’s no wonder customers have such low expectations. And, with Q4 demand poised to intensify this headache for your customers, it may be getting worse.
But luckily, savvy solutions can help ease this tension by making wait times more tolerable and setting your live agents up for success. But how?
Known most commonly as “Queue Call Back” or “Virtual Hold” technologies, contact center providers have leveraged this strategy to great success, managing incoming call queues in a way that 66% of customers prefer.
Call back solutions free your customer from excessive hold times by calling them back directly once a live agent is free to assist. The difference in experience is obvious, as customers can conveniently resume their activities while they wait rather than being tethered to their phone.
Most call back solutions even provide a scheduling window to empower customers to explicitly choose the best times for agents to reconnect.
Here are the biggest benefits of call back solutions:
- Smoother call distribution to prevent customer call spikes.
- Decreased call abandonment rates and total call time (by eliminating call holds).
- Reduced overall costs, with fewer agents required and fewer lines stuck on hold.
- Higher customer satisfaction and higher agent morale.
Empower Agents Now for Success Later
Technology is a tremendous tool with huge benefits. But the customer-agent relationship still matters.
There’s no time to train your agents when you’re already in the middle of Q4 call spikes or high seasonal demand. That’s why it’s so important to prepare them for what’s coming now. Don’t wish you started three months sooner.
That means doubling down on training and support for your agents. Your customers may dread long wait times or customer service hiccups — but these can be easily forgiven with a positive and helpful experience from a highly skilled agent.
Here’s what you can do now:
Knowledge Base: Consider implementing a central source of truth to assist your agents across common customer queries. Knowledge base software can unify your process, reduce agent error, and has been proven to increase first-call resolutions and improve agent satisfaction. Have an important training emphasis you need to rapidly deploy? Build resources within your knowledge base for fast and simple reference.
Daily Huddles: It’s important to regularly align your team. A common feature of some of the most successful development teams in the world, daily team huddles give you the opportunity to set priorities, coach your agents, and monitor ongoing success. With regular check-ins, you can make adjustments that will elevate and improve agent performance.
Make It Fun: Whether through big changes (like gamification software) or smaller initiatives (like reward contests), look for opportunities to increase agent morale. By making the day-to-day activities more fun, you not only improve life for your agents, but you often will yield ancillary benefits, such as increased efficiency and process adherence, because happy and engaged agents make fewer mistakes and take greater pride in their efforts.
3 Great Ideas — and How to Get Started
It’s not if but when Q4 will ramp up. And you may already be feeling the pinch of higher call volume and spiking customer inquiries.
If you’re a business leader in a heavily CX-dependent industry, you should consider adopting the three key strategies discussed above to optimize agent and business ROI in Q4.
Want an expert that can help you get started? Outsource Consultants boasts more than 25 years of expertise, helping contact center staffs thrive amidst the biggest industry challenges. We can help you too — contact us today for a risk-free, no-cost consultation.