It was inevitable: summer is ending and school has started again. The first few weeks of class are stressful for everyone: faculty, students and families alike, as everyone scrambles to figure out the routine of the new semester. It’s also one of the busiest times of the year for the dedicated staff members of the MBS Direct Contact Center.
“Rush is sort of like working in a fast food restaurant with three people on when a bus pulls up,” said Dora King, Contact Center Director. “Call volume appears quickly. It really is a rush, a sudden flood of calls start coming in, and all of our representatives are generally taking calls back to back while it lasts.”
In August, the staff at the Contact Center handled just under 100,000 interactions, which was nearly twice the number for July. In order to accommodate the sudden call volume, staffing is increased in the weeks leading up to the rush periods, which occur about three times a year. The fall rush can start as early as the end of July or the first week of August, and King estimates that this year, things will most likely settle down around the middle of September. “Right now, everyone is very busy, with little to no downtime between assisting customers. Sometimes our most experienced customer service representatives will be handling up to three conversations via chat, as we keep wait times as short as possible.”
Most of the calls and interactions are from customers looking for more information, rather than as a result of any issue. “Most calls are asking about very general, very simple things,” King said. “Most of them are students wanting to place an order with their financial aid but they don’t know whether we’ve received their records or not.”
Temporary or newly hired staff members typically handle simpler interactions like ordering or basic customer service. More experienced representatives — some of whom are veteran employees with 10- 15 years of experience — facilitate the more complicated situations.
To keep everyone motivated and positive during the most stressful times, staff members get regular treats like candy, fresh fruit and lemonade in the break room, or food days with pizza, sandwiches or ice cream.
“We come up with as many treats as we can,” said King. “We want our employees to feel appreciated and important, and to try to do the best job they can — even when it’s tough. Our mentality is ‘we’ll all survive together’ so it’s crucial to help everyone to feel like part of a team, and keep spirits high.”
Positive feedback is also celebrated. Employees who earn customer compliments receive a voucher for an extra 15 minute break, valid for use at any time or kept to combine with others at a later date.
"When a customer compliments one of our employees, we post a copy of the compliment in the break room and give a copy to the individual. It's often more rare to hear positive feedback than negative in a customer service industry," King explained. "We want to celebrate our employees' achievements and their recognition of outstanding performance by our customers."
MBS Direct Customer Service Representatives and e-Content Support Representatives are available 24/7. For more information, visit mbsdirect.net.