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seasonal customer support

How to Optimize Contact Center Staffing to Meet Seasonal Demand

Seasonal workers are a temporary fix for businesses that experience fluctuations in demand during certain time periods and even more so for businesses that support global customers. Contact centers in general will always experience ups and downs in caseloads. This leads to staff becoming overwhelmed during busy periods, and overspend during quieter times.

What businesses need is a way to smoothen these peaks and valleys, so they can continue to deliver excellent customer experiences (CX) regardless of geographical location or caseload. Thankfully, new contact center technologies such as instant messaging and multilingual translation can bridge the gap.


How Does Seasonal Work Impact Customer Support?

Much like with supply chains, supply and demand for customer support fluctuates according to extraneous factors.

For example, according to a 2022 report from Radial, many consumers are shopping earlier than usual as a reaction to the changing economy. This pushes the peak in demand forward for support. Meanwhile, businesses have not prepared for this demand with additional staffing supply.

customer support translation software

Now consider adding a layer of global support on top of that. It’s no secret that hiring, even for seasonal workers, takes time. In fact, it can take twice as long (and be twice as expensive) to hire native or bilingual customer support agents. 

It’s reasonable to infer that support agents would be overloaded in this context, and customers would experience a drop in localized CX quality.

Consumers are not the only factor, as employees themselves impact seasonal support too. In times of high demand and low staff supply, employees may jump ship to find a less demanding or stressful role, leading to staff turnover. According to the 2022 NICE WEM Global Survey, turnover can reach as high as 50 percent for enterprises with more than 5,000 support agents!


How Do Companies Remain Fully Staffed During Seasonal Changes?

One way companies attempt to remain fully staffed for the holidays is via seasonal job listings. The problem with this approach is that these workers are seasonal and temporary—not permanent team members.

When businesses use temporary workers, RetailCustomerExperience demonstrates that it takes 30 days on average for newcomers to become proficient in their role. This rushed 30-day learning period can lead to bad experiences for consumers.

According to PWC, 33 percent of customers will leave a brand after one bad experience. And, it is 6-7x more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones.


Outdated Technology Makes Overcoming Seasonal Fluctuations in Demand More Difficult

It is not reasonable or financially viable for businesses to hire only permanent staff to avoid the downside of employing temporary seasonal workers. 

customer support translation

Instead, the problem for seasonal workers comes from rushed onboarding with little managerial guidance, coupled with outdated and inefficient contact center technologies.

Regarding the tech conundrum, progressive businesses have overcome technological barriers by switching from voice to chat. Research from TELUS International discusses how with voice sessions, one agent can only handle one phone call at a time. By moving to live chat, agents can handle up to 6 chat sessions at once—though a more reasonable number is 2.5 to 3 concurrent chat sessions. This represents a 2.5-3x improvement in productivity! 


Multilingual Customer Support Platforms and Instant Messaging Pave the Way to Seasonal Stability

Digital support channels such as instant messaging and multilingual messaging platforms is one way that businesses can enhance customer support experiences. This will also smoothen the peaks and valleys in support provision, reducing the impact of worker seasonality on business success.

Let us define the benefits and business impacts of instant messaging (IM) and multilingual customer support platforms:

  1. More Resilience Against Seasonal Fluctuations. A lack of language skills means 33 percent of EU businesses struggle to fill multilingual support roles, including seasonal roles. Multilingual support platforms enable real-time translation, meaning English-only support agents—that are easier to recruit—can still handle non-native conversations with 97 percent comprehensibility.
  2. Live Chat Instant Messaging Leads to Higher Revenues. According to ICMI, companies can increase upsell revenue by 2.4x if they adopt live chat or IM technology. Furthermore, businesses experience a 10 percent increase in total order value when customers interact via live chat before making a purchase.
  3. Expand Your Geographic Reach. Multilingual customer support platforms enable businesses to serve more customers in more locations. Delving deeper, this represents an opportunity to expand to new markets and increase geographic reach.
  4. Optimize Agent Handle Times (AHT). Skills-based chat routing reduces AHT and can be achieved with chatbots. This is because chatbots in multilingual messaging platforms can triage customers before they reach an agent, analyzing the message contents to determine the context. Intercom, for example, notes a 50 percent improvement in resolution time using inbound request triaging and chatbots. Chatbots can even automate low-level support tasks, reducing the need to hire seasonal workers.


Prepare for Seasonal Fluctuations with ChatLingual

If you are concerned about how you and your agents will handle the holiday season, consider using ChatLingual.

ChatLingual helps businesses to overcome multilingual skills gaps and reduce low-level support workloads.

Our live translation technology achieves 97 percent comprehensibility, so even if you are struggling to hire multilingual seasonal workers, ChatLingual can lessen the impact by enabling English speakers to handle non-native chat sessions. The live translation benefits extend to our conversational AI chatbots, which act as virtual support agents when real agents are hard to find. 

ChatLingual’s unified agent desktop empowers even novice customer service agents to navigate the system with ease, with application training lasting 30 minutes!

‘Tis the season to deliver great customer experiences. Support your seasonal teams in doing so by reaching out to ChatLingual today.