4 Ways to Prepare the Contact Centre for the Holiday Rush

Prepare your call centre for the holiday peak with automated load testing

The holiday season is coming up, making it even more critical than normal for retailers to make sure their call centres are ready to handle some pressure. Preparing properly is key to keep from being ambushed by sudden CX issues.

“Looking at statistics, about 38% of people start their holiday shopping before the end of October,” notes Steph Shaw, Strategic Alliance Manager at Nectar Corp. “And between October and the end of year holiday shopping and travel season, you’ve also got special sales and all kinds of other events that could cause an influx of calls into the call centre.”

The most effective way to make sure your call centre is ready to take that influx of calls is performing automated load testing. A load test effectively emulates real-world traffic and call volumes, while monitoring parameters like IVR response times, time to connect, speech recognition, busy signals and dropped calls.

Here are four actions you can take now to ready your contact centre for great customer experiences ahead of peak volumes!

1.  Is your call centre designed to perform under load?

“Call centre design is made up of two things: (1) How many concurrent calls is the call centre designed to take, (and do we know it will be able to handle it?) And (2) Are the IVR call flows routing properly?” Shaw explains.

“One of our federal clients’ call centre was designed to handle 1000 concurrent calls, and they had multiple data centres. But when we ran a load test using Nectar’s CX Assurance solution, we found that one of the data centres was not delivering the calls to an agent,” Shaw shares.

“This means that they could never have handled the maximum capacity of calls they were anticipating, and without that testing, they never would have known and fixed that prior to peak season.”

2. Is your IVR prepared?

Throughout the year, customers make changes to their IVRs. It’s important to make sure that any functionality changes made to the IVR will perform under load, too.

“As IVR develops, some go from DTMF to speech, and there are different functionalities that customers add. You want to know, come peak season, is the customer getting the best experience when they traverse the IVR?”

3. Are you proactively monitoring the call centre?

Other than load testing, another key element in preparing the call centre for peak season is proactively monitoring it. This allows you to identify issues before the customer does.

“Proactive monitoring means sending a test call every 15 or 30 minutes and reporting back if there are any issues with that IVR call flow from a CX perspective,” Shaw says. “Customers normally choose to monitor high traffic call flows, high-value call flows, or call flows that they know have been problematic.”

Potential issues are dead air, jitter, packet loss or calls that fail to connect.

“Those things create bad customer experience, but also repeat calls, which have an impact on the bottom line for the call centre.”

4. Do you know when your calls will start to ramp up?

Timing is everything! Getting ahead of peak times means knowing your traffic patterns.

“Planning ahead is key to a good test strategy and essential to providing a great experience during peak season. If you’re in retail or travel, you would anticipate calls starting to ramp up during the October-January period and prepare accordingly,” Shaw says.

But having a good test strategy is not only essential for industries impacted by the holiday peak. It’s also key for other industries all year round: travel, financial services and insurance organizations face peaks at different points of the year. A good example is fluctuations in call volumes in the travel industry following recent changes in Covid travel restrictions.

“It’s always important to ask yourself: Is there an event that could trigger an influx of calls? By knowing when that is, you can create a good test strategy to make sure everything’s working as it should.“