It’s summertime. For me, a desert dweller, that means checking my shoes for scorpions and taking extra care to avoid rattlesnakes when I’m hiking.
But summer also has its high points.
For me, like many others, summertime means taking a vacation. And for some, my family being no exception, the season signals more time with the kids.
For contact centers, that translates into scheduling challenges.
(And by that, I mean contact center management – not scorpion and rattlesnakes.)
While for some industries summertime means demands on contact centers are relatively light, other verticals such as travel and leisure may actually see a lot of contact center action during this time of year.
To prepare for seasonal variability, Venkat suggests contact centers take the following three steps:
· have a plan and the right tools in place;
· leverage home-based agents when needed; and
· call on people within the larger organization with similar skill sets.
Companies can plan for contact center workers’ vacation times in advance by seeking time off requests, inputting them into a workforce management tool, and approving vacation requests either as they come in from agents or based on other parameters, such as agent performance. A performance management system can track certain KPIs, and the company can give agents that are the best performers first dibs on vacation time or preferences for particular shifts, says Venkat.
Organizations may also want to consider calling on home-based agents to fill staffing gaps. Venkat notes that such workers, who sometimes require more flexibility in scheduling, can easily be worked into the mix by WFM software. These systems can also enable remote agents to access the schedule to see when the contact center is overstaffed or understaffed going forward so they can think about when best to plan vacations or when to communicate their availability for a particular work opportunity.
Finally, Venkat suggests that organizations could make better use of folks in other parts of their business by calling on them to help with the contact center when they’re not otherwise occupied. For example, he says, people with a similar skill as those in the contact center may be working at a bank branch. During less busy times at the bank, those individuals could be pulled in as remote contact center agents.
And now for something completely different.
I was recently talking to Dennis DeGregor, worldwide CRM executive at HP, who is selling the idea of Generation C, and how to parse and cater to it.
While Baby Boomers, Millenials and Gen Xers are identified by their year of birth, Gen C is a “psychographic” definition based on lifestyle, explains DeGregor. The C in Gen C stands for connected, so Gen C transcends all age groups, although it is more concentrated among younger folks, who tend to be more tech savvy, he says. DeGregor adds that there are various subsets within Gen C.
The bottom line to this whole discussion, DeGregor says, is that companies can ask customers for their online personas by adding entry options for such information in their online forms. That way, HP can identify those personas in Twitter (News - Alert) streams, Facebook communications, and the like, and based on that HP can do content analysis to understand what those end users are saying and whether those individuals are considered influential in various online circles. And that can enable HP and its customers to identify different communications and decide how best to communicate with them and target them with new offers and campaigns.
DeGregor notes that research offers mixed messages on whether people in social networking situations want to be sold to. Some reports say they don’t, but other data shows that 60 percent of people who are surfing social sites are looking for discounts on products. And, DeGregor says, research shows that people who participate in communications based on platforms like Jive and Lithium by three to four times as much online as non-community participants.
In any case, HP believes that the ideal way to approach Gen C is to build trust by acting as a subject matter expert by providing links to address inquiries and/or recommending users visit other blogs they might find of interest. Once they’ve earned trust, he says, those businesses are positioned to deliver those end users product offers.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi