How to Manage a Call Center During Crisis Situation

The field of call center solutions may appear rather simple and straightforward to most. As a matter of fact, they aren’t entirely wrong. If a particular call center manages to get the best possible cloud contact center software and the best talent to work for them, reaching great heights shouldn’t be too much of a problem. However, this business is more competitive than others. At present, there are a hundred different call centers which deal with the same product or same kind of solutions. They are engaged in what seems like a never ending race to the top. The call center that is able to provide the best solutions, handle crises effectively and keep their clients happy would stand out head and shoulders above the rest.

Speaking of handling crises, did you know that crisis situations are pretty common at the call centers? Obviously, when you are working in collaboration with numerous other people and your operations are completely dependent on the quality of the call center cloud software that you use, there’s always a chance of something going wrong. And when it does, it would be safe to describe the situation as a crisis.

However, it is how you deal with the crisis that makes all the difference. All call centers have encountered similar issues and have managed to pass the test with flying colours. If there’s a crisis at your call center, all hell shouldn’t break loose! Panicking or blowing off the handle will not help. If you want to come out of the situation unscathed, you will have to deal with the situation in a mature and responsible way.

What you have to remember is that your customers don’t really care about your crisis. That’s the harsh truth. Even if your cloud calling solutions are down, they would be expecting the same level of service from you as when you are up and running! Naturally, you need to come up with certain strategies and tactics which can come to your rescue during a crisis. Here, we have provided you with about twenty tips that can help you out during a crisis situation.

Check them out to get a better understanding:

1. You want your cloud call center to be ready for any impending crisis, don’t you? Then you need t train your agents to speak in one global unified voice. Customers are pretty perceptive and would be able to pick up the tension in your agents’ voices otherwise. Use scripts for this purpose. All agents should have the same unified script to use when it comes to customer interactions. The scripts should be stored centrally and made available to all employees.

2. Some call centers make a grave mistake of isolating their customer data from all the other kinds of data. In a crisis situation, where every second counts, this would make analysing and accessing data almost impossible. When it comes to crisis situations, you need to make the most of all the data that you have at your disposal. That would enhance customer interactions and would ensure that all solutions are provided seamlessly.

3. It is very important to pinpoint agent strengths and weaknesses in such crisis situations. As they say, you can tell a lot about a person based on how they handle problems. Some agents might start panicking and get distracted by the tensed situation; on the other hand, some agents might be great in times of crisis. That way, the next time a similar situation arises, you’ll know who to turn to.

4. Do you use cloud based call center solutions? Then that can come to your rescue in times of crises. The cloud based system is very simple and practice. It stores all your data in a central location and allows your data to be easily accessible to all your agents and employees. Also, the cloud based call center would help you in saving a lot of time and money as well.

5. One major kind of crisis is heightened call volume or peak hours during the day when you receive the maximum number of calls. So what do you during such times? Do you give up or do you selectively deal with customers? Actually, neither! You cannot compromise on your customer interactions under any circumstances. Instead, you should make the most of your global network. That would distribute the workload equally.

6. It is very important to monitor the situation in hand. When a crisis situation arises, you will be notified almost immediately. It is then your duty to go over the details of the situation and monitor it from the very beginning. You don’t want the situation to go out of hand and cause irrevocable damage, do you? Then you need to keep an eye on it. Pour over every little detail, analyse your call center cloud solutions, speak to your agents and do all that is required.

7. When a situation like this arises, all the employees are involved. For instance, if your cloud calling software isn’t functioning properly. In that case, all your agents are uniformly affected. Your first step in this situation would be to inform all those who are directly involved or would be impacted by the crisis. If people are informed beforehand, they would be able to deal with the situation better. Otherwise, you should be prepared to deal with panicking employees.

8. All your team members should know what to do and how to go about it. At a call center, the entire foundation rests on team effort and collaboration. This is particularly important in the case of crisis periods. During difficult times, all your team members and employees need to come together and find a solution. As they say, all hands on deck. Otherwise, you cannot even hope to emerge out of this victorious.

9. Each member of the team should be made aware of their duties and responsibilities. Of course, during crises, the duties of the agents change; they would be required to team up and brainstorm together. They would even be expected to take on more tasks than usual. You, as the leader, need to come to their rescue. Unless your agents know exactly what they are supposed to, how can you expect them to work to their fullest?

10. Do not forget about your customers. Your cloud call center solutions are customer centric and this is something you need to take into account. Keep your customers informed about all that is happening. Lying to your customers or hiding the truth from them would only make matters worse. Tell them about the crisis you’re in and your customers are bound to be considerate and compassionate.

11. When a crisis like this arises at a call center, then the first thing you usually do is come up with solutions. The most innovative solution that can fix the problem in a cost effective and a less time consuming way would be put to use. However, how you handle the situation after the solution has been implemented is also very important. You need to clean up the mess that has been created in order to return to normal operations.

12. Scheduling is very important in the field of call center solutions. You usually have a fixed time table at your call center which all your employees must adhere to. Such scheduling is even more important in the case of crises. You must be having some kind of plan in place. How you execute the plan and when you execute it is of the utmost importance. You need to come up with a timeline and follow it down to the last detail.

13. Do you have a contingency plan in place? No? Then what are you waiting for? A contingency plan is basically a step by step plan which tells you exactly what to do in times of crisis. That way, you prevent the situation from spinning out of control. You are also able to find the solutions to your problems more efficiently. A contingency plan prevents you from working in a haphazard manner and gets you across the finish line.

14. It is very important to be able to identify vulnerable systems beforehand. Since you have been working at your call center for a while, you should be familiar with all the systems and operations. You should be able to pinpoint the vulnerabilities and the loose ends. Once you do, you can come up with plans to prevent crises or deal with the situation if a problem does surface. That way, you are prepared for the worst case scenarios.

15. One of the most common problems that all call centers face is power outage. Since your entire operation is dependent on electricity, you can pretty well imagine what happens during such electrical power systems failure. When such a situation arises, there are three things you must check – power, wiring and cabling. Check your battery systems and your backup plans.

16. You need to have a crisis team in place. Simply having a crisis plan won’t help. You need a team of efficient and hard working people who can implement it. Of course, the crisis team members would be chosen from amongst your employers. However, choose only those employers who are able to work under high pressure and can deal with stressful situations in a calm and matured fashion. People who don’t lose their calm in moments of panic are the right ones for the job.

17. Test the crisis plan beforehand. You have come up with a solid contingency plan which can come to your rescue. But shouldn’t you at least test it to make sure it actually works? If it doesn’t, you can always tweak it to your advantage! Your first time shouldn’t be during the crisis itself! Test your plan once you chalk it out. That way, you’re already familiar with the outcome and know how to go about it.

18. It is very important to train your agents to deal with tricky situations. If you are working in call center cloud solutions, you’re bound to deal with crises and your agents need to prepare themselves for it. Most call centers have training programs specially designed for the purpose at regular intervals. You could follow their example and start a similar training program at your call center. That would certainly work to your advantage.

19. The most important tip we can give you about working through a crisis is to not let go of control. Do whatever it takes to keep the situation within your control. That way, it remains manageable; once you lose control, there’s no coming back from it. Hence, the need arises for a contingency plan or even a crisis team.

20. What you must remember is that crisis management at your call center is all about preparing for the situation. Panicking will not help an inch. When such a situation arises, the first reactions of most people would be panic and paranoia. Once the shock settles in, it is time to get your game face on and push harder than ever before. You already have a plan in place; you just have to follow it down to the last detail. Get hold of your crisis plan, go through it, work on the little details and get a move on as soon as possible.

The case study

The very thought of a crisis sends shivers down your back, doesn’t it? Yet, this is something you will have to face and there’s no way around it. That is precisely why we have compiled a list of twenty tips that can help you out. To make your lives easier, we have also provided you with a case study which shows you how other companies deal with crises. Data Mail is a company for service statement processing; as most companies in this field, there has to be a disaster recovery plan in place. This plan would not only protect all the systems of the company but would also protect the assets of the customers and clients as well.

The final outcome

The disaster recovery plan is of the utmost importance any company as a matter of fact. As their business grew and expanded, it was important for Data Mail to improve their recovery plan which was now outdated. This is what they did:

• Data Mail shifted their entire data base to two certified data centers. As a result, their data was saved across two locations and was easily accessible as well.

• Thus, if there were power outages or their system crashed, they had not one but two backup plans in place.

• Thus, in case of any kind of disaster or crisis, Data Mail’s database was never compromised. Without the data to assist the employees, it would have been impossible to deal with customers.

• Once this plan was in place, Data Mail was better equipped to deal with any kind of problem or crisis.

So you see, you are not the only one. Most major companies have overcome different crises to reach where they are today. Remember, such crises are uncalled for and unpredictable. Naturally, it is advisable to be prepared for it so that if you do face problems, you know exactly what to do.