Summer is on the way – is your contact centre ready?

Author: Simon Black | Date: 10/06/2024

With summer fast approaching, contact centres are gearing up for the usual challenges this time of year usually brings. With more agents wanting time off to take well-deserved breaks, maintaining customer satisfaction levels whilst giving employees time to enjoy the summer can be a headache for resourcing teams.

Through the summer, contact centres have to strike a balance between:

  • Giving equal opportunities to agents to take time off through the summer months.
  • Avoiding unnecessary pressure for the agents who are left to handle the calls.
  • Making sure customers experience an uninterrupted level of service.

The good news is that with the right contact centre software, managing demand through summer is a whole lot easier.

In this article we’ll share more about how contact centre leaders and resourcing teams can prepare for summer and mitigate the usual challenges of this busy season.

Common challenges contact centres face during the summer

  1. Balancing demand with resource

Making sure there are enough agents available to deal with interactions is difficult, particularly with unpredictable call volumes.

Calls can increase unexpectedly during the summer with more people off work and using that time to get in touch with their queries. But calls can also decrease with more people away on holiday and leaving their queries for another time.

Agents can feel stressed in either circumstance – either they’ve had time off refused but then have minimal calls, or too many agents are away and the remaining employees are then under pressure to handle increased volumes.  

  • Seamless handovers and continuous service

There are few things more frustrating for a customer than having to repeat their query every time they call or finding out that a post-call action they were promised hasn’t happened.

With agents taking more time off than usual, handovers between agents can easily get misinterpreted or accidentally over-looked which leads to bottlenecks and a poor customer experience.

If post-call notes aren’t accurately recorded, agents picking up the queries at a later date may struggle to help the customer efficiently and have to ask the customer to share all the details again.

  • Making sure there’s enough experienced agents

Balancing agent requests for time off with resource requirements is a challenge in itself, but when leaders also have to make sure they have enough experienced agents around, it becomes a logistical nightmare.

Unfair scheduling to balance experience levels can quickly demotivate your most experienced agents impacting their performance and engagement.

  • Managing changes and keeping everyone updated

Contact centres are at the forefront of change. As the business they support changes, contact centres have to respond and change their processes. As regulations evolve, contact centres must be ready to meet the new requirements to remain compliant.

This is a challenge at the best of times, but through summer becomes even more difficult. Making sure agents receive the training they need and have adequate time to understand what’s new is stressful for everyone involved.

The potential impacts of not managing summer challenges effectively

  1. Under-resourced contact centres leading to long wait times, frustrated customers and complaints.
  2. Stressed agents leading to lapses in concentration, burnout, increased absence, higher churn rates and a decrease in morale.
  3. Risk to brand reputation leading to a decrease in sales and a resulting reduction in market share of business.
  4. Increased compliance breaches leading to the risk of fines and a decrease in trust.
  5. Delays to post-interaction hand-offs leading to increased errors, bottlenecks and complaints.

How to effectively manage contact centres during the summer

All the challenges and impacts we’ve shared so far can be mitigated with one solution – AI-powered contact centre software. More specifically, agent guidance and conversational analytics.

What is agent guidance?

Intelligent agent guidance uses machine learning and AI to deliver the right information at the right time to agents.

By analysing all interactions and conversations, through peak times like summer, it helps to quickly identify bottlenecks, increase efficiencies and empower agents to provide an exceptional customer experience.

Agents are presented with the information they need, exactly when they need it, reducing call handling times and increasing capacity at times when resource is stretched.  

What is conversational analytics?

Conversational analytics or post-call analytics provide extensive data that goes beyond simple metrics like call duration or average handling time. It helps leaders understand their contact centre on a deeper level so they can make more effective, proactive and faster decisions through the summer.  

It gathers data from all channels giving a complete picture of the customer journey however they choose to get in touch. It then analyses conversations in real-time transcribing speech, identifying keywords and detecting the sentiment behind conversations.

Patterns and common communication issues are identified quickly so during challenging times like summer, leaders can step in quickly to act before customers and agents are negatively impacted.

The benefits of having agent guidance and conversational analytics during the summer

  1. Empowers agents

This type of software enables agents to be trained on a single, easy to learn process rather than having to learn multiple, in-depth processes and be expected to retain the knowledge.

With the right platform, powered by AI, agents are guided to the next best action and can focus purely on delivering exceptional service.

This reduces onboarding time and means that agents can be up-skilled or cross-skilled quickly. Agents can support multiple lines with minimal training and without the usual stress or pressure they experience during the summer.  

If agents return from holiday and things have changed while they’ve been away, they no longer have to worry about trying to read lots of emails, learning new processes or familiarising themselves with regulatory changes. The platform will guide them seamlessly through all the updated working procedures.

2. Removes complexity and supports agents

Agent guidance and conversational analytics provides one, consistent interface regardless of the process or the client (when used in BPOs). This simplifies the agents’ tasks, eliminating confusion and overwhelm, enabling them to create a great impression.

Any process can be followed easily, regardless of where information is originally housed or how inexperienced the agent is. Customers aren’t left on hold for long periods of time while the agent tries to navigate multiple systems.

When processes are simplified with predictable and reliable guidance, agents can relax into each call and follow predefined steps. But even if things change quickly, this intelligent solution can adapt to in-the-moment situations through real-time assistance. This minimises errors and ensures a consistent service experience.

Technology can also help with mundane and error-strewn tasks like a handover. Agent guidance software has the ability to auto-summarise interactions and even move information to other people or systems so you know there is nothing falling through the cracks.

Conversational analytics enables managers to quickly identify where agents are struggling so they can proactively step in and support. At busy times like summer, this is a vital resource for managers as they can still support their team on a deeper level whilst meeting the other requirements of their role.

3. Data-driven decision making

Through busy times like summer, it can feel like contact centres are constantly firefighting and just in the thick of it every day. They don’t always have the data (or the time) to take a step back and see what’s happening across the operation and the ripple effect.

But when contact centres deploy the right technology, rather than relying on minimal samples, anecdotal feedback or guesswork, team leaders have the right data to quickly inform and guide their decision making about processes, agent performance, remuneration and resourcing requirements.

4. Seamless customer experience

Deploying agent guidance and conversational analytics means that agents can handle interactions faster, but without compromising on customer experience.

It understands the conversation and suggests the most relevant next best action for agents to take. It dynamically guides them through the most efficient process, improving the first call resolution, and importantly, increasing the customer’s overall satisfaction with their interaction. It also analyses the sentiment behind the conversation to identify how the customer is really feeling throughout the interaction.

Working with this software also allows for easy summarisation and handover of interactions, facilitating smoother transitions and a seamless customer experience through even the busiest times of the year.

Manage peak periods more effectively with Awaken Intelligence

Preparing for summer needs the right technology to make sure high customer service and agent satisfaction levels are still achieved despite the seasonal challenges.

At Awaken Intelligence we’re pioneers of innovative and flexible software to help you see the complete picture for your contact centre.

Get in touch to arrange a free demo and experience our intelligent guidance and analytics solutions for yourself so you can experience an easier summer ahead. You’ll see how we are improving the contact centre operations for 100s of businesses through AI powered optimisation.