The Dog Days of Summer
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
I’ve never seen an answering service that didn’t have seasonal traffic fluctuations. Most experience an increase in the summer months. This is likely a result of vacations at their clients’ offices and those clients using the answering service more. Or maybe they are on summer hours or more of their customers call afterhours – such as for A/C problems. Whatever the reason, the result is more calls into the TAS and increased billing during the dog days of summer: July and August.
This also means a corresponding jump in payroll to handle the extra calls. (If traffic increases and you don’t need to add hours to your schedule, then you were overstaffed to begin with.) The key to appropriately adjusting the schedule is anticipating the need to add hours or staff in advance, not reacting to the changed traffic afterwards. When reacting, the ideal schedule typically lags the actual need by a week or two – or even more. This happens both when ramping up to meet increased demand and scaling back in response to decreased traffic. On the frontend this causes understaffing and results in a drop in service quality. On the backend this causes overstaffing and a drop in profitability. That’s another reason why we might dread the dog days of summer.
Seasoned managers and schedulers can tap into their experience of past summers and intuitively make the right adjustments at the right time. This is an art. Short of having this ability, or to be even more precise, workforce management (WFM) tools can supplement the art of scheduling with the science of scheduling.
Either way, the schedule moves with traffic changes and the billing tracks with labor costs. Service levels remain consistent and clients have no added reason to complain. Then the dog days of summer aren’t so bad after all.
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How Long Will Americans Wait on Hold?
Americans are more patient than expected when it comes to waiting on hold during calls to businesses, new research has revealed. The study of 2,234 consumers, conducted by audio branding specialist PH Media Group, discovered more than half (55 percent) of Americans are prepared to wait on hold longer than one minute. This makes them more patient than their British counterparts, where only 45 percent would consider holding for more than sixty seconds.
American women are more patient than men, with 60 percent willing to remain on the line for longer than a minute, compared to 49 percent of men.
“Traditionally, waiting on hold is perceived as an annoyance for customers, so these figures might come as a surprise, suggesting Americans are fairly patient when waiting to have a query answered,” said Mark Williamson of PH Media Group.
“The fact that consumers are willing to wait shows that businesses should prioritize improvements to call handling practice rather than necessarily aiming to answer each call within a matter of seconds. When customers do need to be put on hold, it is essential they are kept engaged and entertained.”
The survey also discovered people become more patient with age, with 59 percent of 45 to 64-year-olds prepared to wait more than sixty seconds, in comparison to half (50 percent) of 18 to 34-year-olds.
However, young people are much more receptive to on-hold messages, with 55 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds stating it would make them hold longer, in contrast to 40 percent of 55 to 64-year-olds. Millennials are a generation that seeks instant gratification, so it is surprising they are more patient when it comes to waiting on hold.
London-based PH Media Group is the world’s largest provider of audio branding services, with more than 20,000 clients in 39 countries worldwide.
Telephone Answering Service News
Professional Teledata Announces New Credit Card Interface for TBS
Professional Teledata announced that a new cloud-based option for processing credit card payments directly from TBS3 is now available: an interface to Authorize.Net’s Customer Information Manager (CIM). With the interface, users can process credit card payments directly from TBS3, simplify PCI-compliance efforts by “tokenizing” accounts’ sensitive card data, process pre-authorized credit card payments faster, maintain and track multiple account card profiles, securely process card transactions from any TBS3 workstation, settle transactions immediately, and improve merchant rate discount by using optional card security code, address verification, and cardholder verification features not available in legacy credit card interfaces.
Quotes for the Month
“Bad weather always looks worse through a window.” -Tom Lehrer
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” – Lewis Carroll
“Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.” -unknown