I realize that most of you are just getting over the winter blues, but now is the time to start planning for your busy season. Several things are needed to ensure you get your peak season off to a great start and can endure this challenging time within your company: proper staffing, a training plan and communication with your team!

Properly staff your call center

The first item you should consider prior to busy season is your staffing. Do you have the right number of people on your team? Are you properly staffed to get your customers taken care of and provide them with the type of experience that ensures they are raving fans and repeat business for your slower season? Once you have figured out the true number of staff needed, examine your existing staff and decide if you have the right players on your team. Are they people who are dedicated to your business, your customers, and their coworkers? If you paused for too long, you have your answer. You simply can’t afford to carry dead weight through another peak season. You must start either changing the performance levels of your team or the people on your team.

Get a training plan in place

Getting the right staff in place leads to proper training. You need to develop a training plan now. This plan will clearly outline what is required of them daily, weekly and monthly. Our ability to train during peak season often is stifled by the fact that it is busy. Waiting to train your team on vital processes and procedures once the peak season hits is a sure way to fail.

Ask your team to tell you some of the common issues they experience during busy season. What can you do to prevent these common occurrences? For example, I often hear from customer service representatives (CSRs) that we have too many calls. I always love to have this problem! What a different battle cry than what we heard just a few months ago, when we struggled to keep our technicians working. To help with this (good) problem, outline for the CSRs a solid inbound template and reiterate their number one goal: booking the call. Also, having the three-day call board up and functioning allows them to see what days you are booking for. During our busy season, it should not be a matter of “if “we are going to serve this customer, but “when.” The CSRs need to know how far out we are booking maintenance visits. We should also start now with a proactive approach to our maintenance customers. Scheduling their maintenance visits now, rather than during our demand busy season, will ensure they get the priority service promised. This is done successfully with the use of a great outbound template.

Dispatchers need to be properly trained on a few things: how to make midday courtesy calls, the art of rescheduling customers who are lower on the priority list, and making sure we send the right service professional to the right call based on firm facts, such as conversion rate, turnover rate and average ticket, not just who is closest to the next call. This is also a good time to have a flexible list of items that a dispatcher can offer to a customer, such as gift certificates, free filters, plan memberships, etc. These items or giveaways make this call for rescheduling lower priority customers less painful.

Check back next week for the third step to prepping your call center for busy season: communication!