3 Ways Virtual Receptionists Manage Seasonal Spikes and Streamline Operations

2023-10-20

Some businesses experience roughly the same level of calls all year long. However, many others see seasonal spikes. 

While that oscillating demand is a normal part of these industries, it creates challenges that business owners and decision-makers must deal with. These range from eliminating long hold times (which 78% of customers claim is the most frustrating part of communicating with a business) to ensuring you have enough staff on hand. 

Virtual receptionists can help your business manage seasonal call spikes and even streamline your operations. 

What are seasonal spikes?

Seasonal spikes are precisely what they sound like: dramatic increases in call volumes during specific times of the year. This occurs across many different industries. 

For instance, landscaping companies see spikes in spring, summer, and fall. For others, back-to-school is the busiest season. Others see dramatic upswings in calls during the holidays. Deck furniture manufacturers, ski and snowboard companies, and yard tool manufacturers are examples of other businesses that must deal with seasonal spikes.

The challenges seasonal spikes introduce

While seasonal spikes are the norm for many industries, that doesn’t mean that these businesses have learned to “roll with the punches.” It’s a balancing act and one that often fails. Successfully dealing with the chaos introduced by seasonal spikes in communication and demand usually means having the right processes, people, and technologies in place before you need them. 

So, what challenges do these spikes create? Here’s a quick look at some of the most consequential.

  • Missed sales opportunities: Without enough staff to answer phone calls and handle the increase in transactions and customer service needs, your business will miss critical sales opportunities. The difference between “busy” and “successful” is usually the ability to serve more customers at the same time.
  • Increased resolution times: Chances are good that at least some of the calls your team handles every day are customers calling with questions, concerns, or problems. During seasonal spikes, that number will increase. Without a corresponding jump in staffing, it’s impossible to maintain good resolution times. Increased resolution times (more time on hold, generally) mean reduced customer satisfaction and damage to your brand.
  • Increased service times: No matter what your business does, increased call volumes during peak season translate to higher-than-ideal service times. By service, we mean serving your customers –– doing whatever it is that your business was started to do. The longer your service times, the less impressed your customers will be. That can lead to long-time customers looking elsewhere for a partner that can handle their needs promptly, as well as decreased word-of-mouth marketing.

These are just some of the impacts your business will experience during seasonal spikes. Virtual receptionists can offset these issues and streamline your operations, even during the busiest periods in your year.

How virtual receptionists manage seasonal spikes

Virtual receptionists provide the solution your team needs to deal with seasonal peaks, ensuring that you’re still able to deliver the best possible customer experience. Here are a few ways they do this:

  • Around-the-clock service: During peak season, chances are good that customers will call at all hours of the day (and night). Virtual receptionists can answer those calls whenever they come through, provide information, answer questions, and route the call to the appropriate team member (or mailbox). This also ensures that you’re able to schedule your best agents when their knowledge and expertise are most required, while virtual receptionists handle other periods.
  • Lead screening and intake: A lot of your phone calls during peak season are potential leads rather than current customers. Those leads may or may not convert, making it risky to spend too much time dealing with them. Instead, your efforts are better spent working with current customers and converting warm leads. Virtual receptionists can offer lead screening and customer intake to pre-qualify calls so you only deal with those leads ready to convert.
  • Appointment booking and reminders: How much time does your team spend scheduling appointments with customers and then sending reminders to them? Chances are good it’s a lot. That doesn’t even count the customers who try to make an appointment after hours. Virtual receptionists can alleviate that burden by making appointments and sending email, text, and phone reminders. You can also offer online appointment booking to help reduce phone calls during seasonal spikes.
  • Call recordings and transcriptions: Need to reference what was said in a customer phone call? Virtual receptionists offer call recordings and transcriptions, so your team always has access to accurate information when following up with a customer, confirming an order, or helping troubleshoot an issue. 
  • After-hours answering: While you might offer extended hours during peak season, chances are good that you won’t operate on a 24-hour business model. That means many calls could go unanswered. Many people won’t leave a message on your voicemail, and those who do may omit critical information, like their name, phone number, or the reason for their call. Virtual receptionists can offer after-hours answering so that no call goes to voicemail. This ensures your team has the information they need to deliver a great customer experience, but it also means that your customers can always speak to a live receptionist if necessary.
  • Overflow answering: One thing about seasonal spikes is the number of calls that come in at any given time. This can quickly overwhelm your team’s ability to answer them. Virtual receptionists can provide overflow answering so that if your team isn’t able to pick up, the call does not go to voicemail.

Conquer seasonal demand with virtual receptionists

Smith.ai’s team of experienced virtual receptionists provides a full range of services. We’re here to help you deal with the explosion of customer inquiries, appointments, and other needs during seasonal spikes. No matter what your industry or niche, our North America-based agents provide friendly, professional solutions so that your team can focus on what they do best.

To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai.  

Tags:
Business Education
Written by Mike Graner
Mike Graner is the Marketing Manager at Smith.ai. He focuses specifically on engaging content, website updates, and exhibiting at events.

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