Article : 3 Steps Contact Centers can take to Survive the Holiday Rush
Seeming to arrive earlier and earlier, the holiday shopping season is once again upon us. Contact centers that are used to steady, predictable traffic are about to experience traffic on adrenaline.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are really the start. Even though companies know it’s about to get intense, and contact center leadership teams are spending cycles around sophisticated planning, there’s always that one scenario that’s not expected.
What if contact centers had the ability to accurately simulate the waves of traffic ahead of time? Being able to mimic the stress put on systems, allowing for identification and rectification of issues before crunch time.
It is possible to prevent catastrophic downtime during the busiest time of the year. All it takes is a bit of practice and preparation ahead of time.
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Here are three easy steps for contact centers to survive the holiday rush:
- Rev Your Engines
Let’s say you’re going to participate in a car race. You wouldn’t bring your car directly to the racetrack without any preparation at all, would you? If your car had only ever reached a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour, you would have no idea what to expect if it was supposed to reach 120 miles per hour on race day.
The same applies to data processing systems (and contact centers in particular). You’ll want to run the system at max load to see if it’s going to be able to stand up to the pressure. If anything does go wrong, you’ll be able to fix it before you ever need to get up to full speed.
- Watch Your Gauges
The best way to find out if your car is ready for the race is by looking at its gauges. The same holds true for a contact center. You need to pay careful attention to how data processing systems are performing by looking for any sign of weakness. While revving your engines, pay special attention to anything out of the ordinary. Any irregularities in your infrastructure can lead to a calamitous failure and subsequent outage.
- Perform Fire Drills
Don’t just write ideas down on paper and think you’ve got everything covered. Practice in advance what you’ll do when that inevitable outage occurs. It could be something that happens in your own internal data processing, your network service provider or your cloud data processing service provider. Go through your business continuation plans ahead of time under real-world conditions. If you run through a few drills, you’ll learn exactly what you need to do in order to keep the system robust. You’ll also uncover problems you wouldn’t have been able to foresee. Those 'unknown-unknowns' tend to emerge under pressure during the most difficult situations.
It really is possible to take your systems out for a test drive, figure out what’s going to happen when they’re under load, and get them properly instrumented so you can watch the situation in real-time. You can gain major insight by simply paying attention to what’s going on under the hood. Once you make strategic corrections from this insight, you probably won’t have the same downtime issues should the problem occur again in the future. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to run your staff through exactly what they’ll need to do just in case something does go wrong. Practice is key - it really helps to keep everything running smoothly in your production environment.
At the end of the day, the busiest shopping season is never a surprise. A bit of preparation beforehand can pay off greatly in the heat of the race.
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About Mike Burke:
Mike Burke is the Product Director -- Testing Solutions at IR
About Integrated Research:
IR is a global provider of proactive performance management software for critical IT infrastructure, payments and communications ecosystems. More than 1000 organisations in over 60 - including some of the world's largest banks, airlines and telecommunication companies rely on IR Prognosis to provide business critical insights and ensure continuity - critical systems deliver high availability and performance for millions of their customers across the globe.
Published: Monday, November 30, 2015
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