Communications Blog • 4 MIN READ

Don't Stress this Holiday - Stress Test your Call Center Instead

Darc Rasmussen

Written by Darc Rasmussen

For retail, travel and many other industries December is the busiest and most important time of year. Having systems stay up and running over the peak capacity period is crucial. 

Can you Afford a Dent in your Holiday Season Sales?

As much as 40% of total annual sales can come from the holiday season spending with retailers according to the National Retail Federation. The travel industry is at its busiest, as are payment processors too. 

If your organization is reliant on the Christmas period business to fill your stockings all year long, then ask yourself: are your systems ready for the constant hammering on resources? How pretty will your website homepage look after taking a mauling from tenfold, twenty fold, one-hundred-fold traffic? Will your contact centers and customer service infrastructure hold up and support your staff and once a year customers? Will the customer experience be good enough to entice a return visit in the future?

It's a scary prospect. A headache in some cases. 

Poor Experience takes on a Toll on Customer Loyalty

If at crunch time your favorite brand lets you down you can't help but be frustrated, even if they have delivered stellar customer experiences through the year. Even the well-funded giants can run into difficulty in the holiday season. Black Friday is a merciless beast for delivering website crashes to retailers. Last year saw Nieman Marcus become a victim when it was hit by a massive outage. 

At the same time in Australia Click Frenzy, a one-day online sale involving hundreds of stores were sure they were ready for the masses. Alas it was not to be. Millions of eager beaver shoppers went online at the same time to snap up the deals. When the clock struck all lights went green, traffic from every direction tried to cross the intersection. The website crashed and went up in smoke. In many respects it was one of the biggest retail fails in Australia, with all brands involved getting bruised from the mess up. 

Stress Test your Call Center to Alleviate Peak Traffic Bottlenecks

So what's the solution for ensuring your systems do hold up? Testing. But stress tests aren't the kind of tests you detest. Stress tests are your systems' best friend. Why? Because stress tests show where you're going to fall down… before you fall down. Stress tests are proactive, not reactive. Test early and test often. Test beyond the stresses you think your operations would ever experience, think your shareholders' wildest dreams… and your call center staffs' nightmares!

Embed Call Center Stress Tests in Peak Load Planning

Manufacturers of vehicles like cars and planes have thorough testing embedded in their processes. When the products go to market they can operate far beyond the everyday stresses they're likely to meet. In IT, however, sadly it isn't the case. Organizations tend to cross their fingers and hope the systems will work. Sure, lives aren't at stake (99% of the time) but the health of your business could be at risk if indispensable systems let you down over the holiday peak. Failsafe your operations by embedding call center stress testing into your peak capacity planning. 

How much Call Center Stress Testing is Necessary?

You must test every single permutation of a typical customer interaction -- and a non-typical interaction. You should test continuously. If you make a change today, you have to test it today. Yesterday's test isn't good enough. This is the difference between making the sale or losing the sale. If a customer calls in and gets transferred to a dead end or trapped in a loop, you've just lost the sale -- and probably the customer -- for good.

Have a Happy Holiday in your Call Center

The moral of this Season's Greeting is, for businesses driven by peak volumes in December, the complications won't get any lesser, they'll probably snowball. Regular stress testing in your call center will help you avoid systems falling over and ensure capacity is always available to meet the demand during the critical peak season. Happy Holidays!

For more information about how to keep your call center in healthy condition download our latest ebook here

Topics: Communications Customer experience

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