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BizReport : Advertising : November 21, 2016

Expert: How to set up your call center for the holiday rush

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are mere days away, but there is still time to ensure your business puts their best foot forward, especially with customer service and call centers. One expert explains how.

by Kristina Knight

First, make proper staffing a priority

"Online sales are expected to increase between 7 and 10 percent this year - reaching $117 billion in total sales (according the National Retail Federation). As more holiday shoppers make the shift from shopping in-store to buying online, there's little doubt that your eCommerce customer engagement center will receive more phone calls, emails and requests to chat than ever before," said Carle Henry, Vice President of Contact Centers, Speed Commerce. "In order to deal with the influx of calls, increasing call center headcount should be a top priority. HR should plan and start recruiting for peak season well in advance to ensure there's not only enough staff, but also to provide enough time for training and onboarding. Consider building a database of your best call center staff to reference each year and invite back your top associates."

Second, focus employees on their value

"Call centers play a key role in customer engagement. Call center agents hold a responsibility for maintaining your company's brand while delivering excellent customer service, even on the most challenging days of peak season. In order to uphold great customer service, associates should be well-versed in the products sold and your company's culture. Customers seek quick answers when they call-in, and your agents should be capable of providing thoughtful and prompt responses. Employees should be provided with thorough (and fun) training to ensure they are familiar with the products and deliver the best service possible," said Henry.

Third, remember returns

"Returns and exchanges are a top concern for many online shoppers and call center agents should be prepared to field questions following Black Friday and Cyber Monday," said Henry. "The time period after the holidays should always be accounted for to ensure there's enough staff to deal with post-holiday inquiries. Associates should well-versed in details about return deadlines and other guidelines to help streamline the returns process for customers."

Fourth, consider outsourcing to a third party

"Outsourcing to a third party can be a highly effective way to streamline the hiring and management of call center staff. A partner can own the recruiting, onboarding and training of seasonal associates well in advance of peak season. With an outsourced partner, your time can be freed up to focus on your own core competencies for delivering a successful peak season," said Henry.

Tags: 2016 holiday shopping tips, call center, call center tips, Speed Commerce

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