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How AI Helps Call Centers Manage Peak Seasons

Got too much of a good thing? AI-powered Conversations as a Service can help call centers manage peak seasons by shifting focus from outbound to inbound.

Does your call center have a peak season coming up and you’re looking for strategies to manage it more efficiently? Or maybe you just got through an unexpected spike in contact volume, and you’ve vowed to find a better way? You’re in the right place. Let’s talk a bit about the problem, and why conversational AI outreach should be part of your solution.

The Short Version

  • Peak seasons often force call centers to sacrifice quality and results to cope with demand.
  • Staffing up requires time and planning and you can miss out on opportunities in the meantime.
  • With AI-powered Conversations as a Service, you can let AI handle your outbound contact and shift your agents to more productive inbound calls.
  • There are many benefits to Conversations as a Service, including that consumers actually prefer it over calls.

The Peak Season Problem

Call centers that nurture prospective customers are always balancing the customer experience and number of contacts against operational expenses. More calls may bring more sales, but there's only so far you can go. It's up to each call center to decide how many calls to make before giving up on a prospective customer.

This problem only intensifies during peak seasons when many people are shopping for a given product or service. Whether it’s the open enrollment period in the healthcare industry or the spring buying season for home mortgages, nearly every industry has planned seasonal peaks. Every call center will also experience unplanned peaks due to service outages, press attention, or outside factors.

The traditional solution is to increase staffing levels to handle the increased demand. However, this is often costly and comes with many operational complications. Fortunately, there is another way to manage peak seasons: AI-powered Conversations as a Service using SMS. With this strategy, AI outreach handles outbound contact, texting back and forth with consumers as they learn more about the brand and decide to take action. Then, the live agents can shift their focus to fielding inbound calls from consumers who are already informed after talking with the AI platform. Let’s talk about some benefits to this approach.

How AI Solves Peak Seasons For Call Centers

First, AI-powered outreach is easier to scale compared to outreach by live agents. Hiring new staff for a peak season requires planning, extra workload for recruitment, and extra time spent on training (Call Centre Helper). With AI-powered outreach, call centers can quickly and easily increase the volume of messages sent out without the need for additional staffing. This can prevent missing opportunities when staffing up falls behind schedule, and it’s also more cost-efficient. In fact, one of our clients saw an opex reduction of 57% by making this shift from outbound to inbound.

Second, SMS managed by AI works better than calling for hard-to-reach consumers with busy schedules. A survey of Millennials found that 76% think texts are more convenient than calls (MediaPost). This isn’t too surprising when you step back and consider the reality of outbound dialing today. Normally, when live agents make an outbound call, they have no way to know if the person has any real intent to take action. What's more, the recipient usually won’t recognize the number or even know who is calling them! This leads to tons of wasted calls and missed opportunities during peak seasons. In contrast, texts let consumers easily see who is reaching out. And with an AI platform driving the conversation, the consumer can ask questions and engage on their own terms, without using any agent time until they are ready to buy.

Finally, a conversational outbound approach with AI gives a more interactive and (perhaps ironically) more human experience than outbound dialing. With AI-powered SMS outreach, consumers can ask questions and receive personalized responses for days or even weeks. This is important, as 72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging (Forbes). This positive consumer experience can help to build brand loyalty. And it goes without saying that this level of contact is normally not feasible with live agents, especially when contact volumes are breaking records at your call center!

With its scalability, effectiveness, and conversational approach, AI-powered SMS outreach is a cost-effective solution for managing peak seasons. Contrary to conventional wisdom, shifting from live agents to an AI platform does not mean trading quality for cost savings. In reality, we often hear from clients that the consumer experience improves after integrating Conversations as a Service.

Make The Shift From Outbound

This is just scratching the surface of the benefits of shifting from an outbound to inbound or scheduled call focus. And while AI can save the day during peak seasons, it works even better when it’s in place all year round! If you’d like to see more case studies and data showing how Conversations as a Service can help call centers in your industry, please get in touch today.