A modern contact centre is expected to operate under a range of undesirable conditions - from system failures to full blown on-site emegencies. It's likely there is a plan of action for almost every event that could affect a contact centre, but what's often overlooked is how quickly and efficiently those plans can be put into action.
I’m the manager of a contact centre supporting a bank, and our web portal, which serves thousands of customers a day, has failed. Those customers begin calling into my contact centre and some things I don’t like begin to happen:
Call queues saturate with calls reporting the outage
Call volumes cause an anomaly in my forecasting, affecting my WFM strategy
Contact centre KPIs for the day, week, and month are all in jeopardy
Now, let’s say I’ve been given an estimated time to repair the portal, great, my agents can answer each call and explain to customers that we are aware of the outage and estimate a resolution is expected in X hours.
So We're Good?
No, we haven't actually solved any of the problems; queues are still saturated, forecasts are becoming less accurate by the second, and performance is still suffering.
What I'm about to describe is in the context of Avaya Communication Manager but the concept applies broadly to most, if not all, contact centre and CCaaS solutions, so read on.
There are some obvious courses of action; get more agents on the phone, shuffle queue and skill assignments, or have the Telecoms team record and add an announcement to the call flow.
These are all good ideas but each requires time and resource you may not have.
The Better Plan
You can start preparing for this hypothetical, or any other right now by implementing smart call flow design and, if you want to go the extra mile, some extra tweaks to your ACD configuration.
Contact Centre routing best practice would dictate that every incoming call flow have an optional message that can be toggled and played before a customer enters a queue. We know this as a "broadcast announcement".
A broadcast announcement sits in-line, and inactive, within your regular call flow pre-configured with an audio file describing a likely event that might affect service. The ultimate aim here is to provide the customer with enough information that, should they decide to abandon, the call never affects your queue volumes, forecasting, or overall performance - happy agents, happy customers, happy you.
Building broadcast announcements into your call flows ahead of time buys a responsiveness and flexibility that's just not possible when you're forced to engage with your IT and Telecoms teams to record announcements and update call routing during a time of crisis, and how well you prepare here will directly affect how quickly and effectively you can respond should the worst happen.
Versatility is Key
To cap this off, try not to think of this as a solution to a specific problem; broadcast announcements are an enhancement that can be used anywhere you want to provide customers with additional information, manage expectation or just market your latest product.
Tell customers that inclement weather has stopped 90% of your agents making it to work, or that a network issue is causing poor line quality - unhappy customers happen when expectation does not meet reality and broadcast announcements give you the opportunity to shape that expectation.
It’s a simple and low cost process to implement and it’s powerful. One of my favourite tools in the call flow design tool box.
As always if you'd like any advice or guidance around the implementation of features like broadcast announcements, let us know.