How CCaaS Can Support Customer Service Agents During Peak Times

Updated: April 4th, 2024

Discover How to Leverage the Power of Contact Centre Solutions

Customer service isn’t the easiest department to work in. From handling large volumes of customer interactions to dealing with complaints and even hostility from dissatisfied customers, agents face many daily challenges. These challenges can become more frequent and severe for businesses operating within sectors that are prone to peak seasons within the year. With increased demand placed upon your workforce, agents can struggle to keep up, which can lead to inefficiencies, agent burnout and employee churn.

Intelligent CCaaS solutions could provide the answer to challenged posed by increased workloads caused by peak seasons. We’re going to explore some key customer service challenges within sectors that face fluctuating demand and how intelligent CCaaS solutions can help to solve these challenges and enable your customer service teams to work more efficiently.

Understanding Peak Times in Customer Service

When we’re talking about ‘peaks’ within customer service, we’re referring to the periods of increased customer activity and engagement with a business. This can be in relation to seasonal changes, events within the year, sales and discount events or new product launches.

For example, businesses who operate within the travel sector often report experiencing peak demand during the months of January to March. This can be due to customer priorities shifting from Christmas shopping to booking a trip in the new year in order to have something to look forward to. It’s also the time of year in which many travel companies advertise offers, discounts and deals in order to benefit from this customer mindset.

Peak times and seasons can be advantageous for profitability. However, more people interacting with your business can lead to increased contact centre traffic that your current workforce may not have the capacity to deal with. This can cause problems that pose a risk to the experiences of both your customers and your employees.

Peak Challenges for Contact Centre Agents

Naturally, a sudden increase in customer interactions can play havoc with your team’s ability to provide an efficient service if your business isn’t prepared. Increased call traffic can lead to higher stress levels for employees, through having to deal with more customers without the call centre increasing agent capacity. A survey conducted by customer engagement software, MaxContact, as part of their Duty of Care Gap, study found that 83% of call centre workers feel that the high-pressure nature of their work is taking a toll on their mental health. Throw in the negativity perpetuated from challenging customers and you have the perfect recipe for burnt out agents who are unable to provide the positive and efficient service your customers expect and are more likely to leave your company.

Employee churn that occurs as a result of burnout or increased stress relating to peak seasons, isn’t ideal, as your workforce is still having to service peak numbers of customers, with a reduced number of contact centre agents. In turn, this will lead to a vicious circle of increased stress, leading to more churn and increased inefficiencies which can have a disastrous impact on your customers’ experience. Furthermore, the disruption in productivity can also cause financial implications. Statistics from the same study, as mentioned above suggest that poor mental health costs UK contact centres almost £1 billion every year.

The Impact of Peak Challenges on Customer Experience

When it comes to discussing the value of customer experience, the statistics speak for themselves. According to research from Forrester, businesses who prioritise customer experience outperform competitors by 80%. In contrast, figures from PwC’s Future of Customer report say that 32% of customers will leave a brand after just one bad experience. Further to this, research by OneSignal reported that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by between 25% and 95%. It’s clear to see that offering the best possible experience to customers is more vital than it has ever been.

Effectively managing increased traffic into your business is a key component of providing the experience the modern customer expects. A contact centre survey by Replicant ranked hold time as the number one customer complaint with 44% of people saying they become annoyed with a 5-15 minute wait time. With this in mind, during peak times, businesses face a difficult balancing act between servicing as many customers as possible, whilst offering a consistently efficient service.

Simply increasing the number of customer service agents isn’t always possible and even if it is possible, it isn’t a cost-effective approach. Recruiting and training temporary or seasonal staff to take on extra customers during periods of the year, is a costly and time-consuming initiative. According to statistics published in a contact centre training report by ProcedureFlow, it can take between 3 and 12 weeks to sufficiently train a customer service agent.

In addition, unlike permanent employees, seasonal staff are less invested in your business and therefore engagement will be lower. As temporary agents are less invested in your business, they are less motivated to provide a high standard of service, which means your customers’ experience will suffer as a result. Furthermore, this mindset can erode company morale and culture, due to permanent staff having to witness sub-standard performance or having to carry the workload left behind by seasonal staff.

The answer lies in implementing tools that enable your team to work more intelligently and streamline workflows, so your agents’ time can be prioritised in order to serve more customers, with the same resource and without compromising service quality. If you’re thinking – “is there a solution that I can implement that would solve this challenge?” – there is. Let us introduce you to intelligent CCaaS solutions.

What is Intelligent CCaaS?

CCaaS stands for Contact Centre as a Service and it is a solution that unifies multi-channel communication, including voice, instant messaging, email, video and more; alongside powerful customer experience tools, such as call handling, recording and IVR – all within one platform. This platform is internet-based, so there’s no need for installation of physical lines and it seamlessly scales with your business.

These features alone can enable your team to service your customers more efficiently, by quickly routing calls to relevant agents, reducing the time it takes to transfer calls between agents, as well as offering different channels, so customers can engage with your business in a way that suits their requirements. With no need to swap between solutions in order to access the information and communication channels they need; agents have more time to be productive and service your customers more efficiently. Its effortless scalability means that, if you need to bring seasonal staff in to service your customers, you can add and remove them to your account, quickly and easily, as needed.

However, if you’re really looking to take your customer experiences to the next level, integrating AI into your CCaaS solution holds the key to more efficient call handling, personalised customer experiences and increased employee engagement. Combining the power of CCaaS with artificial intelligence is known as intelligent CCaaS and can provide your business with the tools and features it needs to cope with increased demand and call traffic during peak times without increasing resource.

Supporting Your Workforce During Peak Periods with Intelligent CCaaS

So, now we have an idea of how this technology works, let’s explore how intelligent CCaaS solutions help you to support your contact centre agents to provide outstanding customer experiences and simultaneously avoid agent burnout and churn.

1)     Intelligent IVR and Call Queueing

Integrating artificial intelligence within your business’s call queuing capabilities can steer call traffic down the relevant route and reduce the need for transferring calls between agents. When a customer calls into your business there needs can be triaged through a series of automated call handling check points that utilise machine learning to identify the complexity of each call. Calls can then be directed down specific routes that are dependent on the type of query. For example, simple enquiries could be handled by an AI-powered automated assistant (more on that later) and more complex calls can be directed towards human agents.

This solution reduces the amount of calls that need to be directed to human agents – making call handling far more efficient and allowing your contact centre to service more customers without increasing resource. It also means that customers who need a human agent are directed to the relevant agent with minimal to no transfers, reducing wait times and increasing customer satisfaction.

2)     Personalised Customer Experiences

According to figures published by McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions and 76% become frustrated when businesses do not offer this. Machine learning can be used to provide personalised customer journeys that make your customers feel both valued and encouraged to conduct repeat business and promote your brand.

There are a few different ways in which AI can empower your agents to offer an experience that keep your customers coming back for more. One key method is providing agents with detailed data about customers as they interact with your company. Artificial intelligence can work through large volumes of customer data, call logs and other metrics to identify key insights and trends that can influence your business’s customer service initiatives.

Alongside making it easier for agents to service your customers effectively, AI can also identify areas where your team require training or help. This enables managers to effectively monitor the performance of their teams and uncover opportunities to empower agents with further knowledge or support, which can improve employee engagement and boost performance.

3)     Automated Assistants and Virtual Agents

Contact centres, globally, are already utilising virtual assistants, such as chatbots with 72% of respondents saying they leverage chatbot technologies within their contact centre in a study published by Botco.ai. Artificial intelligence can also be integrated within CCaaS features to direct entire segments of customer interactions away from human agents and towards automated and Ai-powered solutions, across multiple communication channels, including chatbots. The obvious benefit of this integration is facilitating the ability to service increased numbers of customers without over-burdening human agents or needing to introduce temporary or seasonal staff to cope with demand.

Simple automated assistants can offer messaging within your IVR that either direct your customers to self-service options, where they can access the information they need themselves without speaking to an agent or deal with simple automated tasks, such as address changes.

More complex AI solutions can enable the use of virtual contact centre agents that are intuitive enough to interact with customers, whilst ensuring the responses feels natural and humanlike. From integrated virtual assistants within voice communication to advanced chatbots that sound like human agents, customers can experience a high-quality service from your contact centre without taking up the time of human agents.

Combining Technology with Employee Engagement Initiatives

Although this technology is powerful enough to transform your contact centre operations to cope with peak demand, relying on intelligent CCaaS alone will not guarantee reducing stress within your workforce. Bolstering the benefits and features this technology offers with robust employee engagement initiatives and solid HR processes is key to ensuring your team feel empowered to deal with both regular traffic and increased demand posed by peak seasons. Fortunately, the features included with CCaaS solutions can also benefit the management of team members in order to foster more productive and supportive working environments.

In-depth Analytics

Access to in-depth analytics, as well as customised wallboards and reports enables comprehensive visibility into the performance of your team. This allows managers to gain valuable insights into the distribution of call traffic and workloads across their team to identify areas where AI could take the strain away from agents or where interactions could be redistributed to prevent agent burnout.

Call Recording

Call recording allows access to qualitative data relating to customer interactions with your business. This data can highlight common triggers that lead to customer dissatisfaction, so you can make relevant changes to your operations that will reduce negativity and frustration felt by customers. This will simultaneously improve both customer engagement thanks to improved service and employee engagement due to a reduction of unhappy customers. As around 72% of businesses are opting to use scenario-based training to onboard staff, access to real-life customer interactions can effectively enhance employee learning.

Employee Onboarding and Training

According to research published by Brandon Hall Group, effective employee onboarding can improve retention by 82%. As we mentioned previously, access to in-depth data can also highlight opportunities for training and support for your staff in order to fix gaps in your agents’ knowledge and provide them with the skills to effectively support your customers. Furthermore, having visibility across large volumes of data and utilising machine learning to process and gain insights from this data can enable you to improve onboarding training and initiatives, so employees are empowered with the skills they need from their first day with your business.

Intelligent CCaaS Case Study – On the Beach

Let’s take a look at a real-life example of how this technology can benefit contact centre operations. Travel Agency, On the Beach, were looking for a way to reduce wait times during peak seasons. We worked with them to identify opportunities for AI-driven automation, which could free up the time of human agents for more intricate queries. Our intelligent CCaaS solution with integrated artificial intelligence successfully reduced agent-handled interactions by 10%. This enabled call traffic to be redistributed to service increased numbers of customers whilst reducing wait times.

Work Smarter Not Harder with Intelligent CCaaS From Elite Group

Are you ready to empower your business with intelligent CCaaS solutions that enables customer interactions to become more efficient, supports your agents during peak seasons and drives customer loyalty?

We’re ready to help!

With over two decades of industry experience, prestigious partnerships with the biggest CCaaS vendors and a team of accredited, experienced communications specialists, you can trust us to help you find the best solution for your business. Once you’ve chosen your intelligent CCaaS solution, we will always be on hand to provide advice and guidance, whenever you need it and you will have your own, named Account Manager to ensure your solution is always fit for purpose.

Fill out our contact form today or call our specialists on 0344 875 8880.