How to survive a peak frenzy

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Anna Jackson 5th December 2016 3 minute read

How to survive a peak frenzy

We know that planning for peak can be a real headache! As experts in customer service, we’ve pulled together 5 essential tips to help you manage your peak trading periods as smoothly as possible.

Tip One - Have the right team of people to make it happen

To deliver and manage a successful peak period it is important to have the right team of people on board as early as possible. This includes those who are committed to delivering the various critical elements of a peak such as IT, Planning and Learning and Development. Having the right people engaged from the start ensures that the peak is successfully planned and executed with appropriate ownership, plans, reporting and escalation paths.

One of the most important elements of a peak is Customer Service support, to ensure your customers remain happy with the service you’re providing, even when you’re at your busiest.


Tip Two - Create a flexible workforce

It is important to create a workforce that can be easily flexed to meet peaks and troughs. 

By matching shifts to intraday profiles and being creative with shift patterns, you will successfully be able to deliver both planned and unplanned peak events, such as one offs like Black Friday, as well as extended periods like Christmas.                               To ensure the operational unit has not only the adequate staff, but also on the right days and time of day, a workforce planning system can be used to create and review agent schedules. It will easily facilitate the use of rotational or flexible shift patterns to allow the movement of e.g. days off to meet changing demand.


Tip Three - Put in place the right staff at the right time

 Critical and key to any successful operational service is having the right number of suitably trained and qualified staff available at the right time to deliver the service. 

An effective planning process will enable you to achieve this for both the initial delivery and throughout the peak period. Keeping the recruitment and training processes in house and not using third parties will give you greater control and enable you to play an important part in the end to end operational process.

 By working closely and collaboratively with the project team you will establish early what agents and skillsets are needed, the training required the appropriate delivery method and how to enhance and maintain quality levels.

 One size does not always fit all. Therefore, using a tailored approach throughout this process will ensure that you meet your specific requirements at that time. 

As we all know, when it comes to establishing success, the numbers are key. Whether it’s budgets, timings or targets, accurate forecasting is everything.


Tip Four - Get your forecasting right

 Effective planning will enable you to successfully deliver the end to end peak with minimal impact to the operation and customers.

By planning ahead by a number of weeks/months you will be able to determine your specific resource and delivery requirements and put in place a project to deliver a successful peak period.

Throughout the peak, intraday profiling can be used to ensure the ongoing delivery by matching shift profiles to meet your day to day resource requirements. This flexible adjustment of shift patterns will enable you to meet your customers’ specific demands such as servicing digital customers who prefer to shop online during the evening.


Tip Five - A supportive operating model for those on the floor

In a short space of time it is vital to provide agents with the information and training required to be able to perform optimally in their role. It is also important to provide ongoing support within the operation to enable agents to easily access knowledge and expertise. Such tools that we have found to be particularly effective include an intuitive knowledge base, Subject Matter Experts, knowledge ‘champions’, product specialists and communication tools.


To summarise...

As demonstrated, it is important to have in place a robust planning procedure and utilise your internal expertise and scale. This will enable you to successfully manage your peak demand and maximise sales through these critical periods with no negative impact on the quality of customer service and experience.

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