Seasonality is a well known issue in retail. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, the back-to-school season, Halloween, Black Friday, and the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays all create peaks in demand for different types of retailer and they all have to find different ways of coping with the stress that a peak period places on their customer service team.
But seasonality isn’t just restricted to retail. As you might expect, the travel industry also has very distinct peaks and troughs, particularly for tourism. Sports and events, such as concerts, usually have very specific seasons. Businesses focused on health, such as gyms, often peak early in the year. Peaks can also be created by new products, rather than any specific season – if a celebrity wears a certain item of clothing they it might suddenly be in much more demand.
Peaks in demand usually lead to a peak in the requirement for customer service interactions. It could be because many more items are being returned or exchanged or just because the increased interest leads to many more questions and enquiries.
How do you cope with this? How do you prepare your contact center to manage a weekend like Black Friday where you might see the same business in a weekend that normally covers an entire month?
Preparation, training, and hiring in some temporary cover are many of the tips you will see in the contact center journals. These are great tips if you are expecting a 25% increase in customer interactions, but what if your seasonal peak leads to a 500% per cent increase in demand on your contact center?
This is where Gig CX can be an important tool in your customer service strategy. You don’t need to expand the physical contact center because the agents will all work remotely from home, connected to a virtual contact center. You can plan in advance and ensure that the agents are trained and ready, but more importantly you can target who you want on your team because the best people to hire will be your existing fans.
Scan the social networks to find which customers are talking about your products. Who is writing reviews or creating unboxing videos? Ask these people directly if they would like some flexible work supporting your products and you might be pleasantly surprised by the response.
Many of these online influencers will love the opportunity to help your customers because they already love the brand. To many of them it’s just great to experience that recognition from your brand and it’s a bonus to get paid each time they help a customer.
Now, build a pool of these influencers who are trained how to manage customer service interactions and security-cleared to access the systems. They don’t want or expect work everyday, but you can tap into this deep pool of resource anytime you know there will be a seasonal rush.
Alert the group in advance, hey we need at least 100 people to cover these hours over Black Friday – is anyone in?
Suddenly, your contact center will be able to cope with a peak period not by hiring in temps who only want to see the end of a shift. You can have a team of expert influencers – who love your products – helping out during your busiest and most stressful periods.
These people don’t need employee engagement programs, you are only going to call on people who are already interested in your brand. You are offering them payment for their help, but you can throw in the bonus of recognition from a brand they love. Maybe even send some free gifts to the best on the team – you know they are going to end up on Instagram.
This is how to manage seasonality and peak periods. Don’t just cope, make your peaks the best time of the year, when the Gig CX influencers ride to the rescue!
Let me know your own ideas about managing seasonality and how you think that Gig CX can help?