The holiday season marks the most important time of the year for many businesses, while the measure of success is placed on total sales, the work of a company’s contact centre is equally important. Sales provide an immediate impact, but the contact centre’s role in supporting the total customer experience ensures that impact is not short-lived.
For contact centre managers, then, the task becomes finding ways to help their team navigate this busy and vital time while working with existing/seasonal resources and still delivering on key metrics that support a positive and engaging experience for both the customer and employees.
It’s a task as great as the season itself but manageable with a sound plan that can adjust to all the twists and turns this time of year is known for.
* Providing a presence. The presence of a manager on the contact centre floor is vital during the holiday season. Whether it is to answer questions, provide support or offer a break to employees that need to step away from their phones for a moment, directing a contact centre team during this season requires real, hands-on management. Because of this, managers should expect their hours to increase during this period, but the benefit of their presence in support of employees is worth the extended hours.
* Incentivize the effort. For some companies, the busy period lasts from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. For others, the rush begins in late November and can span all the way into January. Regardless of the duration, offering simple incentives can improve employee morale and effort during this time. Catered lunches are universally enjoyed and managers may consider offering additional vacation hours to employees who work overtime during this period of peak demand.
* Experience counts. While contact centre employees all face the same holiday rush, they may do so with vastly different levels of experience. This disparity provides the perfect opportunity for veteran contact centre team members to mentor more inexperienced employees—especially those experiencing their first holiday season. The guidance of veterans can help newer employees manage expectations and prepare for the days ahead.
* Eliminate distractions. It’s likely that all non-essential meetings and tasks for agents have been put on hold, but what about managers? While it’s easy to understand why agent’s schedules need to change, managers should also follow suit. Being available and practising what they preach will go a long way in showing agents that they understand the grind their employees are pushing through.
* Have fun. Thrilling, exciting, fast-paced—these are all terms a contact centre manager may use to describe the holiday rush. Fun, however, rarely makes the list. Introducing gamification and challenges to the workforce during this season can instil a bit of fun while meeting or surpassing results. Offer individual financial/vacation incentives or a party for the whole team at the end and employees will be more excited about the process and the results they achieve.
Putting it all together
A contact centre’s engagements with customers increase dramatically during the holiday season and, because of this, so too does the importance of those engagements. Managers are thus tasked with finding ways to make each of these interactions as positive as possible for employees and customers. The strategies above allow employees to focus on providing a positive experience for customers, one that supports the goals of the contact centre and the company as a whole. After all, putting your employees first ultimately impacts your customer experience and happy employees, equal happy customers.
Check out our Definitive Primer on Employee Engagement to learn more ways to keep agents engaged for the holiday season and beyond.