How to Prepare Your Call Center for Shopping Season 2020

Retail | 4 minute read

This year, the holidays are going to look very different from the past.

With change and uncertainty looming thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can count on one thing for sure — that your customers will be leaning heavily on your customer support team.

Call spikes and high customer demand are overwhelming enough on a typical day, but the holidays have a way of cranking up the intensity for call centers. Your best bet is to plan and prepare in advance, so your agents and customers alike are set up for success!

With change and uncertainty looming thanks to the #COVID19 pandemic, you can count on one thing for sure — that your customers will be leaning heavily on your customer support team. #CustomerService #CX #Holiday2020 Click To Tweet

Look at your historical data

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Well, it’s true! That’s why it’s essential to keep an eye on your KPIs and metrics and utilize the information to make decisions.

Take some time before the holiday period to identify trends from previous years. Were there common questions from customers you can use to prep your agents? Are there certain times of the week where your team experiences higher than normal demand?

While the pandemic may influence these trends, it still helps to have some baseline knowledge to guide your approach.

Review your IVR system

A lot of customer confusion stems from the very system designed to direct them to support. If you haven’t reviewed your IVR system lately, you should do it before the holiday season picks up.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating and adjusting your IVR:

  • Think from the customer perspective. Are your options clear to the caller? Is the system easy to navigate and understand?
  • Relevant messaging. Out-of-date communications can cause unnecessary confusion.
  • Streamline the process. Your customers don’t want to spend a lot of extra time listening to menu options and pushing buttons, so condense their choices where possible.

In a poll of 176 contact center professionals, almost 3 out of four respondents scored their IVR as a 3 out of 5 or below when it came to customer first-impressions. – Call Centre Helper

Adopt an omnichannel strategy

Now more than ever, customers are looking for companies to support them on whatever channel they prefer, whether it’s social media, chat support, or voice calls. If you haven’t invested in the proper infrastructure, it’s time to get started.

Remember that personalized customer experiences will play a big part in your call center’s success, as customers are increasingly looking for businesses that can continue conversations between channels.

Invest in self-service options

Not all customer queries require a dedicated agent. That’s why your business would do well to prepare self-service options for customers who have more common, less urgent questions.

FAQs and online help guides are a great way to approach this. Come up with a list of common questions and anticipated queries for the holiday season and make them accessible online. Promote them on your website and ensure they’re easy to search up — this way, your agents can focus on more complex customer issues.


Have you considered a Web Call-Backs (formerly Visual IVR) for your business? It’s a great way to offer a call-back to your customers from whatever channel they’re on — phone, web, or mobile!

Get call-back technology

If there’s one thing that gets a customer’s blood boiling during the holidays, it’s being stuck on hold. There’s something about endless elevator music with a periodic, “Your call is very important to us,” looped statement that puts everyone in a bad mood.

Call-back technology is a super simple way to provide exceptional service to your customers. Offering them this option will save them from waiting on hold and give them peace of mind knowing that an agent will contact them when available. It’s a win-win!

Make sure you’re well-staffed

Suppose your business doesn’t have call-back technology or alternative channels to manage customer inquiries. In that case, it’s crucial to ensure that you have enough agents on staff to address increased demand over the holidays.

You may want to consider adding extra agents per shift or hiring additional agents. However, having extra bodies on hand is expensive, so we recommend exploring tech solutions to address the demand!

Have a crisis plan ready

Anything from a significant website error to a PR issue can trigger overwhelming demand for your contact center. And if the pandemic has taught us anything this year, it pays to be prepared.

Getting a crisis plan and the proper tools in place will help your agents control messaging, prioritize customer inquiries, and manage high call volumes. This will also bode well for customer perception — after all, a poor response can inflict more damage to your business’ reputation.

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Illustration - a hand holds a smartphone. A call center agent is on the screen looking concerned. There are 5 symbols floating above his head as he looks worriedly at them - a credit card, a delivery truck, a gift box, price tags, and a megaphone
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