Strategic Staffing: How to Staff Your CSR Team for Peak & Shoulder Seasons

When it comes to home services demand, you know the drill: you’re busier when the weather acts up. In an industry reliant on weather patterns and seasonal changes, it’s natural for demand to fluctuate throughout the year. Knowing how and when to adjust customer service staff sizes can be challenging and frustrating for home service companies like yours.

As the Head of Customer Success at Schedule Engine, I’ve (Samantha McDermott of Schedule Engine) noticed a thing or two about how companies handle customer service team staffing throughout the year. I’ve learned a lot in my role working with home service companies of all sizes across different trades. I’m here to share some of my experiences and knowledge to help you build a strategy for your staffing efforts during peak and shoulder seasons.

What Happens During Shoulder Season?

When shoulder season rolls around, you probably face significantly lower call volume than during the remainder of the year. I’d estimate that demand can fluctuate anywhere up to 50%. From a business staffing perspective, shoulder season demand dips present a critical problem. During peak season, you need a robust staff of customer service representatives to manage the high volume of incoming calls and chats. But your customer service representatives (CSRs) have fewer calls and chats to answer when demand dips off.

Common Staffing Strategies

This fluctuation often leads companies to follow one of two staffing strategies, each with its own difficulties.

  1. Staffing for Peak Season

Staffing for peak season is when a company hires a high number of customer service representatives to manage demand at its peak level. As a result, when shoulder season comes and demand curves off, most of the team sits idle.

The problem: You’re covered during peak season, but you have too many employees and not enough work during shoulder season (and therefore, you’re sacrificing profits with higher, unnecessary labor costs).

2.  Staffing for Shoulder Season

Other companies choose to staff for shoulder season and make up for the smaller team during peak season by hiring temporary CSRs. As a result, your team size fluctuates with demand.

The problem: You’re not wasting on costs during shoulder season, but you’re hiring temporary staff that isn’t committed or dedicated to your brand during peak season (and therefore, you’re sacrificing customer service quality).

As you may be able to see, neither of these strategies are particularly effective. These strategies present an even bigger problem when extreme weather events occur. For example, what happens with an unexpected hurricane if you shrink your CSR team for shoulder season? Or a heatwave? Well, you might panic. (Or, you can follow our game-plan for extreme weather event planning and execution).

How To Best Manage Your CSR Team Throughout the Seasons

Unrelated to extreme weather events, there are a few ways that you can manage your team regularly to make up for the issues presented by common staffing strategies:

  • Staff for year-round, not for seasons

Staffing for year-round rather than shoulder seasons is a much better approach to staffing for your business. This strategy can mean:

  • Staffing for peak season and finding ways to leverage the extra talent during shoulder season, or
  • Staffing for shoulder season and relying on a tool like Schedule Engine’s Live Chat and Live Voice services to make up for it during peak season

By stabilizing your year-round CSR staff, you’ll have better employees with better retention, leading to better performance overall—which is much more important than skimping on labor costs here and there.

  • Leverage your extra CSR staff during shoulder season

Suppose you choose to go the “staffing for peak season” route. In that case, you can leverage the extra staff you have during shoulder season to focus on other tasks such as scheduling maintenance appointments and building long-term customer relationships. You have more time and energy to nurture returning customers and improve customer retention, with limited issues answering one-off emergency calls during peak season.

 

Savannah McDermott is the Head of Customer Success at Schedule Engine.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

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