There’s never a good time for a crisis to strike—make sure your contact centre is ready.
There’s a storm on the horizon.
This isn’t a storm of thunder and lightning though—this storm is far worse, coming in the form of emerging crises in the contact centre.
Yes, unfortunately, crises in the contact centre are a question of when rather than if; no matter how efficient your operation, problems are bound to arise at some point. To mitigate the damage and keep your customers on the line, you must have a plan in place for when disaster comes to call.
Preparing for a crisis means creating a system where problems can be addressed quickly and efficiently:
1. Have a Plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Before your contact centre is capable of handling a crisis, you must have structured processes in place. These include step-by-step strategies for employees to follow when problems arise. These issues may be related to weather conditions, power outages, or software problems and system breaches.
2. Find the Weak Links
The point of an emergency preparedness plan is to help identify what systems will need the most attention. Finding the weak links in your operation will tell you which areas are most vulnerable. These weak links could be related to your computer system, your hardware and power supply infrastructure, or your phone systems. Remember—each system in the contact centre is connected. Losing one will likely create other problems that need to be addressed.
3. Assembling the Team
Your team will be the first responders during your crisis—establish a set group of employees who have the quick thinking and agility to problem solve on their feet. Their skill sets should be varied, and must encompass the technical, communicative, and organizational needs of your centre.
4. Test the Plan
There’s never a convenient time for a crisis. Problems arise when you least expect them; prepare for this eventuality by testing your crisis response plan before problems appear. Drill your team on the processes that must occur during a crisis situation. A safe run-through of your crisis management strategy will deepen your understanding of its strengths, weaknesses, and improvements that can be made.
Having a strategy is well and good, but what happens when a crisis actually takes place? This is where your planning will pay off. Your crisis response plan provides the structure for a fast recovery, but there are several other principles your team must keep in mind:
1. Act Fast
Downed communication systems means unavailability for your customers. Given that the contact centre’s goal is convenient outreach (and with joint research by LogMeIn, Inc. and Ovum showing that 76 percent of customers will quit a brand after having a bad customer service experience), every minute lost makes the problem worse. Don’t delay when problems arise—be proactive with problem resolution, and inform customers through social channels if you expect significant down time.
2. Communicate Often
Train your team to communicate often, and communicate quickly. This begins with informing your customers about the problem, but extends to providing regular updates about resolution progress. As time passes, more customers will be affected. Have your crisis management team provide updates to give your customers some idea of when they’ll be able to contact you again.
3. Get All Hands on Deck
Though creating a dedicated team is essential to problem resolution, a crisis in the contact centre affects your entire team. If your phone or electrical systems are down, find ways to utilize the available manpower from your other contact centre agents. Use email, social media, mobile applications, and other multichannel strategies your centre has available to reach out to customers and let them know that help is on the way.
4. Take Responsibility
Though no business enjoys admitting fault, you can’t use a crisis as an excuse to hide. Businesses that fail to publicly address and take responsibility for internal problems tend to lose face and trust from their market.
Advocate for your contact centre (and your customers) by meeting with key service providers, insurance companies, or customer liaisons. Be open about your problem—honesty goes a long way with customers, and many of them will be more understanding than you think. NM Incite found that 71 percent of customers who experience positive social care are likely to recommend that brand to others.
You never know when lightning will strike. Much like your contact centre’s customer service outreach, crisis management must be done proactively and with a strategy in mind. Create a plan, identify weak points in your system, and train a single team to contain the damage. This way, when a crisis inevitably occurs, your contact centre will be prepared with the processes and infrastructure necessary to prevent down time and reconnect you with your customers as quickly as possible. Interested in more strategies for crisis management in the contact centre? Check out our free whitepaper!