Summer Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be
Is your Contact Centre ready for the Summer Challenge?
By Phil Kitchen, Director, the Contact Centre Panel
The UK is enjoying some fantastic weather as I write this article. While I’m aware that I’m probably beckoning rain clouds by typing this, I’m going to carry on because every year, Summer brings challenges for Contact Centres and in-house contact teams alike, which all clients need to be ready for: agent attrition and absenteeism.
It’s Summer: What’s The Problem?
That glowing orb in the sky makes us all feel great, doesn’t it? Let’s not underestimate the positive power of longer, warmer days on everyone’s mood… and this includes the agents in your Contact Centre. Happier agents usually mean happier clients.
However, there are unavoidable features of the Summer months which your Contact Centre needs to plan for. Agents will leave, and other agents will fail to turn up sometimes!
A huge percentage of Call Centres are based in University towns and cities. This is usually a good thing, with good access to agents capable of working flexible hours, using their above-average intelligence and youthful energy to keep your customers well looked after. But in June, most of those students will be nearing the end of their academic year, stressed by exams then leaving the University until Autumn, or permanently. Your Call Centre needs to manage this process of attrition carefully, recruiting for the summer months and planning how many agents will return in September when the new academic year begins.
Thankfully, this summer loss of agents coincides with the UK’s holiday season, so hopefully your needs will be reduced too, but look out for any signs of falling standards in the reports your Contact Centre shares with you. They do share reports with you, right?
One key downside to a young workforce is that Contact Centres, for most agents, are not a long-term career goal. Of course it’s possible to build a fantastic career in the Contact Centre sector and some agents will progress onwards to become future leaders. However, many agents are working in your Call Centre to supplement their student life and might not be as motivated as you’d like to think.
In Summer 2018 we not only have the temptation of great weather and no lectures, we have the World Cup taking place in Russia. No doubt this will affect some agents’ ability to stick to the discipline of a work routine, for what they see as a supplementary job. Your Call Centre needs to take responsibility for measuring and managing this throughout the next three to four months.
Perhaps your Call Centre team will benefit from reading this article about keeping agents motivated, and hopefully they will minimise the disruption for you!
What Do You Need to Do?
If you have a good Contact Centre team in place, they should already have planned for these challenges. You can take some easy steps to identify whether you should be worried about the next few months:
- Ask your Call Centre about their strategies for dealing with the inevitable churn of staff and the effect of summer on their absenteeism rates
- Make sure you have regular reports in place which show you key indicators of potential problems – agents on your team; answer rates for inbound work; calls made for outbound work; even the first names of agents (which isn’t the whole picture but lets you see what continuity you have from week to week)…
If you’ve planned ahead, you will have covered this in your deal with your Contact Centre. Do you have a plan in place so you know what to do if standards slip during Summer? Your agreements should reflect your needs for all times of year, with potential to mitigate the effects of problem periods, or even compensate for any unforeseen failures.
If you’re not using an outsourced Call Centre, you might have a great in-house team and feel that these issues won’t affect you, but keep a careful eye on your performance between June and September to identify any issues before they become genuine problems. Considering an outsourced alternative or fall-back provider might protect you from future slips in service levels.
How Can CCP Help?
Here at CCP we’re very proud that 88% of the relationships we set up between companies and their Contact Centres are renewed after their first contacted period. This level of client loyalty and stickiness is important us, because it proves that we’re helping companies to find the right partners.
To find out more about working with the perfect partner for your business, give me a call here at Contact Centre Panel on 0114 3030 393 or contact us using the form on our website.