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5 Tips for Planning Seasonal Support

Seasonality is the name of the game for many companies and organizations, whether they rely on post-Black Friday sales to stay out of the red or ramp up for the summer, when their products fly off the shelves. If you find yourself taking a deep breath before your busy season and not exhaling until it’s all over, you know what it takes to navigate seasonal spikes. And you’re not alone: Last year’s Cyber Monday was the largest online sales day in history, with consumers spending $6.59 billion in just 24 hours, a $1B increase from 2016. Seems like many merchants were ready for the rush. As noted, the summer season brings its own need for all hands on deck. Just look at the European tourist industry, which welcomes 33% of annual nights spent in just two months, July and August. Talk about a summer rush!

With these surges come fantastic opportunities beyond revenue spikes. It’s a chance for your company to pull in new customers, impress them with your product and service, and retain them as a customer throughout the year. A long-term, loyal customer is worth much more to your brand than the value of that single sale-day purchase.

In order to put on your best face, you have to be prepared with a sufficiently sized and well-prepared workforce that ready to supplement your traditional and social customer support team. Normally, that entails a huge hiring push that sees your HR team inundated with applicants and on-ramping workers that will have to be let go months later. It’s a laborious process that can overwhelm anyone.

But there’s a better way. As longtime readers of this blog well know, it’s possible to outsource (or ModSource) a flexible, cost-effective team of experienced agents that can ramp up and scale back in perfect alignment with your company’s needs. ModSquad has provided seasonal support teams for some of the biggest names around, so we know that the careful planning and management of these seasonal spikes can pay off in a big way. As you map out your plan, here are five tips for planning great seasonal support.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. You need time to prep your team; there’s a learning curve that can’t — and shouldn’t — be rushed. You’ll also want to nest your support agents, putting them in a live environment with assistance, to ensure they’re fully equipped to handle your customers and represent your brand with the knowledge and professionalism you require.

Reschedule company events as needed. Do you hold annual corporate gatherings, training sessions, parties, or retreats? It might seem logical to celebrate the holidays during the appropriate season or venture on an outdoor excursion when the weather is nice. But if that’s the time your team is most in demand, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s not unheard of to celebrate the end-of-year holiday season with a January gathering, as scheduling your activities during quieter periods makes sense.

Set priorities based on past performance. If your call volume heavily outweighs your need for social customer support, plan accordingly. Similarly, if you find that agents supporting your chat feature racked up longer times to close tickets last year than you would have liked, give them the assistance they need.

Maintain your standards. You may be bringing on a support team on a temporary basis, but they’re still representing your brand to your customers. Apply the same quality metrics to these new agents as you would to a traditional worker. They may be filling in a short-term need, but that customer who’s calling in still deserves to be welcomed by someone with technical know-how, empathy, support skills, and a shared passion for your product. Your team is only as strong as its weakest link.

Stay on top of your schedule. This is not a one-and-done. Keep a close eye on the schedule to watch out for gaps and work swiftly to resolve any issues. Try to maintain the same support ratio for agents as you would during normal periods if you hope to uphold the same high-quality performance level.

Handing your seasonal spikes smartly is about more than making a few extra sales; it’s about filling your client base with satisfied brand ambassadors who will in turn bring new customers to your door. This is done by offering top-tier service during each and every customer contact, even in crunch time. We’ve seen again and again how proper planning and staffing can make all the difference to your customer experience.

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