We’ve had plenty of reports of difficulties in contact centres because of the snow. Staff have struggled in, some sharing lifts, which often leads to in-day shift changes; some centres have closed early and customers have endured increased queue times.

Those contact centres which deal with services affected by the weather – breakdown facilities, boiler repairs, insurance claims – that sort of thing – also have to expect huge increases in call volumes at these times.

To be more prepared for this sort of event – and weather extremes are becoming more commonplace in the UK – remember that much can be solved with sensible technology.

Homeworking is an obvious solution and means that your contact centre and your staff will be up and working whatever the situation. Your customers will thank you for it.

If you still need agents in the office, blending may help deal with peaks in demand and it can be a cost-effective way to reduce queues and maximize resources. It’s not just about combining inbound and outbound telephone calls – blending can also be used for mixing calls with emails and Twitter for example.

To deal with queues install products which help customers, such as a system which allows a caller on an inbound queue to hang up but “maintain” their position – then they can get on with other tasks whilst waiting to be answered. Alternatively, provide a system which asks callers to leave their details, so that they can receive a call back at a later time. 

If a customer has to wait in a queue, consider what messages they could listen to – perhaps provide advice on what information they might need upon being answered, or answer FAQs to pass the time.

Also consider whether queues could be reduced by encouraging customers to use channels other than the telephone – email, text and so on.

We can help with the technology so that you won’t be looking at crisis management anymore but at improved productivity and increased sales.