British Blizzards – How Does Your Contact Centre Deal With Them?

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We didn’t quite get the white Christmas we wished for this December and instead, received it by the bucket load this January. A little overdue, the snow hit hard, particularly here at Cactus Search. Layered with thermals and snow shovels in hand, we were prepared.

…But were you?

When snow hits the UK, we have a tendency to let everything freeze up. Trains are delayed, traffic comes to a standstill and children are out enjoying snow days. Call centres, however, still manage to brave the hail, snow and storms, and continue operate for the good of their customers. The snow brings with it many problems, particularly when Mr. A’s boiler breaks – because who’s he going to call for help? Those contact centres that deal in insurance, breakdowns and accident calls tend to see an increase in calls their way – and therefore it’s only right that they operate to deal with the high volumes of callers.

It’s at times like this that a good intra-day or real time person in your planning function can make all the difference – but there are a number of other ways that contact centres can deal with bad weather conditions. We’ve been doing a spot of investigating, and we’ve come up with a few ways to keep your centre running smoothly when a good old British blizzard hits:

Preparing Ahead: Companies located in areas that are used to poor weather tend to prepare ahead, informing staff that there could be travel disruptions or difficulties getting into work. Leaving earlier than usual and taking different routes can aid in this. And don’t forget to keep an eye on the local weather forecast!

Support Staff: When snow hits, we believe that you and your colleagues have to pull together. Support staff are in place that can be contacted and assist with travel, or arranging travel, for several staff members. This might make changes on day-to-day shifts but all in all, the phones will still be manned.

Taxi Service: Staff who can’t get in but live close enough (a few miles) can be ferried in by on-site, company cars. We’re not talking snow mobiles but instead, 4-by-4’s that are properly equipped to drive in all conditions. This system seems to work particularly well (particularly in maintaining those KPI’s!)

Working From Home: When you’re snowed in, the only possible way you’re going to work is from home. Account Handlers in a Bedfordshire company are armed with laptops to productively carry on with work from home. And don’t worry – we won’t tell if you want to take a break and pop outside to build a snowman.

Robots and Automation: Snow-melting robots would be a really cool addition in improving the weather conditions. Sadly they haven’t been invented (yet), so contact centres have to rely on computer systems… Which aren’t quite as fun. However, automated programs are in place to deal with customers and callers to prevent snow from disrupting the general business. Automated systems can also help when you have staff in, if only to inform customers that there may be a longer waiting time due to the increase in calls (meaning they’re always kept in the loop!)

With blue skies creeping through the clouds, we might be on set for a sunny, if not warm spring. That said, we here at Cactus Search would love to hear how your contact centre goes about dealing with heavy snowfall (and other adverse conditions) – so let us know your thoughts!

2 thoughts on “British Blizzards – How Does Your Contact Centre Deal With Them?

  1. In my experience agents make the effort which is testament to the culture that is present.

    One critical element to consider of course is the safe return of our team players who have made it in (sometimes of course it only begins to snow when people have arrived for their shift).

    By understanding how far away people live from the Centre a contingency plan can be created and communicated so those with great distances to travel potentially leave first, or those reliant on public services can equally have a leave time brought forward.

  2. Certainly food for thought there Paul!

    It’s easy to overlook what happens when people arrive at work and THEN it starts snowing. Contingency (and forecasting) plans seem to work well, preparing for what could be the worst gives employees a greater chance of combating the poor weather conditions!

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