Best Practices for Managing Seasonal Volume Fluctuations

Best Practices for Managing Seasonal Volume Fluctuations

What Causes Seasonal Spikes? 

This is a difficult question to answer since there are infinite factors that can affect the call volume in a call center. However, there are certain times of year and particular events that create patterns in these fluctuations. So, it’s important to recognize and establish best practices for managing seasonal volume fluctuations. 

For example, call volumes increase around the holidays, during enrollment periods and marketing campaigns, and when there are significant changes in policies and offerings. When people have questions and need to speak with a human agent, it equates to a heavy influx of callers and wait times.

Other factors such as family vacations, returning to school, seasonal illnesses, natural disasters, and system failures can also cause unexpected spikes. Call volume will always be affected by social and economic factors that dictate people’s behavior. Then again, there will also be drastic fluctuations that have no explanation at all.

What Are the Best Practices for Dealing with High Call Volume?

Your Workforce Management Team is the key to managing and predicting these fluctuations. Although it isn’t a perfect science, they use historical data to predict trends and ensure you have enough manpower to meet your handling goals. During periods of high volume, they will offer incentives, flex scheduling, and split shifts to have the agents you need during peak hours. Furthermore, they will restrict time off-line and prioritize skills to prevent long hold times.

Having the right tools and proper training will also reduce the time it takes to resolve customers’ questions and concerns. Sophisticated AI and IVR systems provide more self-service and callback options, lifting part of the burden from your agents. It can also save time by capturing information before the caller speaks with the representative. When they need to speak with a live agent, practicing scenarios with them means they can find answers faster. The less time your customers spend on the phone, the happier they will be. 

However, if you simply don’t have enough people to handle the call volume, staff augmentation is always an option. Many call centers hire a BPO or form partnerships for additional support.

What Are the Best Practices When There Are Seasonal Lulls?

On the other extreme, you also don’t want to waste money with too many agents sitting available. When there are lulls, you can offer voluntary downtime and extended breaks/lunches to reduce your numbers.

Another idea is to take advantage of the break to schedule company-wide training, perform system updates and platform migrations, and evaluate your performance during peak times. This can help you identify patterns and areas for improvement when forecasting future staffing needs. It is also an optimal time to train new employees in preparation for when the call volume increases again.

As previously mentioned, forming creative partnerships can also be mutually beneficial in boosting call volume when it is slow. You can crosstrain your agents to handle multiple clients to counterbalance slow seasons and keep the call volume consistent.

Creating a Better Customer Experience

The bottom line is that when you establish best practices for managing seasonal volume fluctuations, you are creating a better customer experience. Complicated automated systems can be confusing and frustrating which often leads to high-stress situations. No one wants to spend hours waiting to talk to an agent, so you need to have well-trained staff in place to meet their expectations. That’s where P3 can help you optimize your systems and support your business through these fluctuations.