Christmas is a busy time for most industries but, for call centers, it poses a particular problem: how do you deal with the rush while ensuring your security standards don’t slip?

With the festive season just around the corner, we’re taking a look at the ways contact centers can be caught out in the rush and what you can do to make sure you’re prepared.

Overflow and Compliance

Different contact centers deal with busy periods in different ways. Some might allow homeworkers to start taking calls, to take the pressure off onsite agents. Others might hire additional staff to cover the center’s busiest times.

However all of these options are fraught with potential danger; how can you guarantee PCI compliance in any of these situations? Homeworkers taking calls would be doing so on remote, unsecured connections or networks. Similarly, any new staff taken on are unlikely to be trained in compliance and the correct use of secure payment technology, not to mention the lengthy vetting process required during hiring to ensure the safety of your customers’ payment card data in new hands. Since new hires are often taken on last-minute to cover a rush, many of these security processes go out of the window and the risk of a security breach goes up – especially if hackers are aware that busy times are vulnerable ones.

A Helping Hand

So what can you do to avoid these pitfalls? First things first, preparation is essential. If you have a game plan in mind for the Christmas rush, or any busy season, you’ll have time to make sure all security processes are properly followed and that any contingency plan is going to be fully PCI compliant.

One way to do this is to have properly trained and vetted staff on reserve at all times, although finding the right staff who will be available to do this can be challenging. Another way is to have a contingency plan in place long before you’re going to need it, that includes a pre-prepared and thorough screening process and training program that will get any additional staff up-to-scratch by the time you need to bring them in. Again, this can be a lengthy operation and might not work for busy periods that are more unexpected.

Perhaps the easiest way, then, is to look into outsourcing staff over Christmas. Using a third party call center that is already PCI compliant means that you don’t have to worry about security as it’s all taken care of for you. Plus, all our agents are experienced and trained in PCI compliance and secure payment handling and you only have to commit for as long as your busy season dictates.

Top Tips for Speeding Up

Whether you’ll be outsourcing or hiring additional staff this Christmas, speeding up your average handling time is always going to be helpful. Here are a few quick tips for getting your agents up to speed:

  • Get a handle on training – Proper training from the very start of an agent’s career will help to avoid those initial slow handling times that come with new agents.
  • Walk and talk – Make sure agents are capable of carrying out actions and wrap-up during the call, without leaving the customer waiting! Difficult to master but invaluable for improving AHT.
  • Information first – Rather than gathering bits of information here and there during a call, make sure your agents are getting everything they need right at the beginning as this will help speed up processes.
  • Repeat service – Ensure customers are able to get through to the same person they talked to initially; this saves everybody time as well as avoiding customer frustration.
  • On the record – Recording calls is good practice both for ensuring good service and for troubleshooting any issues. Compare long calls with short to see what is working and what could be improved.

We’re always happy to advise on contact center best practice – get in touch with our experts to discuss the needs of your contact center over the coming festive season.