On February 5, 2017, building supply company 84 Lumber was poised to vault to national notoriety. The relatively unknown building supply company was running an ad during Super Bowl LI. The 90 second spot told the story of a mother and her daughter but ended abruptly on a cliffhanger, instructing viewers to visit their website to learn the duo’s fate. Millions of viewers, many of them with smartphone already in hand, obliged.

The website crashed.

This kind of thing rarely happens because huge web traffic spikes are expected during and immediately following ads during any nationally televised event, particularly the Super Bowl. It’s an anomaly that can be anticipated, with proper safeguards in place weeks before the ad first airs.

In the world of customer service, you almost certainly experience predictable variation in call volume. Retailers typically realize that they’ll need to scale their capacity in November and December. Health insurance companies can expect to be busy during open enrollment periods. Law firms have a fleet of agents in place prior to announcing a class action lawsuit.

But what about the anomalies that can’t be anticipated?

A widespread power outage caused by a major thunderstorm means repeated calls from anxious users wondering when the lights are coming back on. A fluke food safety recall initiates thousands of inquiries from panicked consumers. A major blizzard shuts down the roads and strands your agents at home, unable to take calls. This is not the time to subject customers to long wait times or sub par service, yet without proper planning your hands may be tied.

The good news is that it’s entirely possible to prepare for the unexpected without over-staffing during normal periods.

One option is the make sure your call center partner has agents taking calls in multiple geographic locations. This will keep weather-related events from stalling activities, as the unaffected center can simply pick up the slack.

Additionally, select a call center provider with a flexible staffing model that can scale quickly on short notice. This can be accomplished through internal agents, remote agents, or a combination of the two.

The customer service industry is littered with tales of PR nightmares caused by a company failing to hope for the best but plan for the worst. Unexpected events are unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be neutralized with a little foresight.

Not sure if you’re prepared for the unexpected? We can help!

Outsource Consultants are contact center industry experts with over 25 years of outsourcing industry experience who have spent thousands of hours vetting and analyzing the strengths and specializations of the industry-leading outsource call center and BPO vendors. If you’re considering contact center outsourcing, simply call 888-766-4482 or email info@outsource-consultants.com today and we’ll help you find the call center solution that best fits your exact requirements.

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