How Short-Staffed Contact Centers Can Overcome Summer Spikes

Seasonal Spikes Don’t Have to Mean Hiring Scrambles

With much of the world emerging from two years of pandemic-fueled restrictions, many are preparing for the most “normal” summer in years. 

This pent-up demand is exciting and daunting for nearly every industry. 

Live Nation, a global leader in live entertainment, expects an increase in event attendance this summer and “a blockbuster summer 2022,” as concerts and tours resume full force. 

STR and Tourism Economics recently upgraded their hotel occupancy forecast for 2022 to 63.8%, compared to a 57.6% forecast in 2021.

All signs point to a flood of travel, shopping and recreational activity for a busy season that’s already shaping up. 

And since these industries had to reduce staff in order to survive the pandemic, they’re now scrambling to hire to meet the increased demand – especially in their contact centers.

Hiring and training new agents is a slow process, however. The shift to remote work has expanded where contact centers recruit from and made it more competitive. 

Matt Magnuson, VP of Call Centers at Extended Stay America, says, “If you talk to most contact center leaders, they’re expanding their geos. Even folks that are staffing or recruiting domestic call centers where they might have just had a small geographical area, now that’s expanded.”

The result of short-staffed contact centers is long hold times that remind you of the early days of the pandemic.

Customer service leaders need to get ahead of this increasing customer demand and the continued unpredictability over the next year. 

Rather than hiring thousands of agents, increasing overtime, and outsourcing, the most savvy leaders are leaning heavily into Contact Center Automation and customer self-service during this time. 

To prevent their contact centers from getting flooded by calls, texts, and chats, they’re using automation to efficiently scale and achieve the elasticity that’s needed to easily conquer any surges in request volume, across any channel.

Contact Center Automation gives contact centers the power to quickly and efficiently scale up and down, no matter their agent headcount or inbound volume

It is the process of using artificial intelligence (AI) to scale customer service up and down based on customer demand, without ballooning costs, training new agents, offshoring, or planning for seasonal fluctuations.

Contact Center Automation answers every request immediately — no matter the time, channel or language. It eliminates wait times, engages in humanlike contextual conversations, and solves over 90% of tier 1 issues. 

This improves customer satisfaction and leaves human agents free to handle issues that require empathy or complex resolution.

You’ll be ready to handle any surge in request volume by just turning your automation on. There’s no need to give a heads up to the vendor. Contact Center Automation can automatically scale without any delay to help contact centers navigate unpredictability and unanticipated call spikes.

Contact Center Automation also gives you an additional “workforce” at a much lower cost than outsourcing or hiring, which is particularly helpful for contact centers that need to scale on a reduced budget. 

You only pay for what you use, creating elasticity and predictability in your costs. When call volumes are low, your automation capacity contracts to save you from paying for more agents than needed.

How automation can be applied to your call flows

For travel, hospitality, and insurance companies, all inbound requests from customers needing to verify or rebook their ticket, or file a claim or travel notice, could be handled by automation. 

There’s no need to loop in a human agent unless it’s a complicated situation or issue, in which case automation can intelligently escalate the request to an agent with guided tools that make the agents’ job even easier.

Hotels and airlines can leverage Contact Center Automation to resolve calls about reservations, ticketing, and FAQs that many customers will expect to be answered accurately and quickly. These types of high-volume, transactional issues can easily be handled by automation. 

A hybrid automation and agent customer service model gives contact centers a level of agility, flexibility, and scalability they’ve never had before. With the flood of travel and recreational demand that’s expected to happen in Summer 2022, and consumers that expect fast customer service, now is the time to adopt Contact Center Automation for your agents and customers.

Learn more about how Contact Center Automation can help your business navigate summer spikes. Overcome the contact center labor crisis with Replicant.

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