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Seasonal Workforce Planning – is your Contact Centre Christmas-Ready?

Matt Hughes 13-Dec-2018 07:11:27
Matt Hughes

 

Could employing more FTEs over Temps not only be good for your customers but also good for your business?

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The Christmas surge

An obvious topical challenge faced by contact centres at this time of year, is how to address seasonal variations when demand can vary greatly.

By now you will hopefully have completed your strategic plans and are looking forward to a profitable Christmas period.  For many contact centres the next few weeks are critical to overall company profitability.  Although challenging, this period also represents a huge opportunity to not just meet but exceed customers’ expectations.

With the market intelligence company, Mintel, predicting some festive cheer for Britain’s retailers, contact centres need to be poised to deal with the extra demand.  Mintel’s latest research predicts that December’s retail sales will reach £47.7 billion (incl. VAT), growing a respectable 4% compared to last December, when sales hit £45.8 billion - £11 billion of which will be spent online.

 

How to prepare for the demand

With those figures in mind it’s easy to see how certain businesses have 30% of their volume concentrated during the holiday season and rely on it to see them through the rest of the year.  In these situations, companies usually:

  • keep a minimal workforce that matches "normal" operating months
  • recruit temporary labour to deal with the added workload at peak

What contact centres sometimes overlook is that there are lower-cost strategies to improve the quality of service and ultimately improve the customer experience.

 

To recruit or not to recruit? 

The optimal operating point is usually achieved by recruiting more full-time staff than many organisations currently do. The excess labour available in low-demand periods is easily offset by consolidating training and holiday during those times. This increase in headcount is usually not enough to match the demand at peak, but is often enough to meet the demand peak with overtime and smaller incremental seasonal recruitment.

Frequently, these additional employees can be recruited to full-time positions because natural attrition will eliminate excess capacity.  This strategy requires subtle but important changes in work, pay and coverage policies which let employees readily accept schedule changes (e.g. via pay differentials or more weekends off) in support of overarching business goals.

 

Christmas present and future

If you still haven’t prepared for this Christmas season, don’t despair, you can apply these strategies to the peaks and troughs of national holidays, major sporting events and the respective awareness weeks that may affect your sales/service in 2019. Companies that streamline seasonality workforce planning in this manner not only see tremendous cost savings, but also service quality benefits due to a larger percentage of work being managed by more seasoned agents.

 

For more information on strategic planning please see our article on Long Term Holiday Planning and our free Long Term Planner Calculator.

FREE HOLIDAY PLANNER

 

Season’s Greetings & Best of Luck over the Christmas Period!

 

Topics: U-WFM Blog, Contact Center, Workforce Management, Contact Centre, Holiday Planning, Free Holiday Planner, Cloud Workforce Management, Long Term Holiday Planning, Seasonal Workforce Planning