Handle High Call Volume By Changing Agent Tactics
By Christine M Harrell
Managers use real time call center metrics to adjust staffing and keep the work flowing. Agents use the same data to adjust their call handling by using different techniques depending on how high the volume is.
Every point of contact with a customer is an opportunity to make a sale. A few years ago agents working in fields like technical support or customer service were rarely expect to also try to sell products but that has changed.
Companies train all phone agents to take the opportunity to suggest other products or services customers might find attractive because a few extra sales has a big impact on the company bottom line.
During periods of high traffic, agents might want to stop upselling products until call center metrics show lower traffic. The extra sales are certainly helpful, but not at the expense of customers angry at having been kept on hold.
Cutting out the sales pitch for a few minutes lets agents clear out the queue, at which point they can return to normal operation.
Another important trend in modern contact centers is the concept of cross-training.
Agents who have the skills to handle multiple roles are less bored and the contact centers are better able to handle high call traffic in one area, such as sales, by switching over agents from another area, such as technical support.
The practice also minimizes transfers by letting each agent handle all of a caller’s needs rather than bouncing a customer around the company.
However this strategy can work against you. Let’s say a sales agent gets a technical support call by mistake. Normally the agent would handle it rather than transferring, but call center metrics shows long sales queues and short support queues. In this case the better choice is to transfer the call to support and work on clearing out the sales queue more quickly.
The customer is always right, even when he’s wrong. Dealing with angry callers is never an agent’s favorite duty, but patient and sympathetic handling of complaints can turn anyone into a happy and loyal customer. Unfortunately this takes time the contact center may not be able to afford during periods of high volume. Is it better to please the one caller on the phone now, or the five callers who could be handled in the same amount of time?
When call center metrics show critically high traffic levels, it might be more profitable to give in to the caller’s demands even if they are out of line. Wave a fee. Give a discount. Accept return of an item broken by the customer. Do whatever it takes to get the caller off the phone so more customers can be helped.
Create a set of policies making it clear when agents are allowed to use call center metrics to make their own decisions on how to handle calls and you will find the contact center runs more efficiently.