Ho ho ho! It’s that time of the year again! Get ready to celebrate and stuff your faces with some yummy food. Holiday season sure brings a lot of joy but can also be stressful for both customers and businesses. Businesses see a surge in traffic during this time as people are shopping for themselves and their loved ones.
This is one of the most important times of the year and everyone wants to put their best foot forward. Brands want to deliver the best customer support. and people are looking to gift the best to their friends and family. Basically no one wants to compromise.
In the spirit of the holiday season, I have tried to prepare a guide to help you sail through your customer support and leave a happy and memorable experience for your customers.
1. Plan Ahead
To ace customer service you cannot plan and achieve your goals at the 11th hour. The planning and strategizing needs to be done at least three months prior to the peak season. Looking at the past trends can help with the planning for the future. Forecasting the traffic, possible resource requirements and scheduling training sessions for the agents.
Some of the factors that you can look into are:-
- What were the most frequent queries?
- What were the most common challenges your agents faced?
- What were you most used communication challenges?
2. Seasonal Hiring
It is observed that hiring tends to increase ahead of the holiday season. However, you do not need to hire permanent staff if your year round demand can be handled with your existing workforce. In that case, it is better to go for contractual workforce or outsource the same. Forecasting the personnel needs will be more effective if you analyze the past trends and infer from there. Having said that, just recruiting new employees is not enough. On-boarding is the key. Get them on pace with your customer service process and acquaint them with any existing systems for better operations.
3. Train those Elves
You know the holiday season means peak traffic and stresses customers. It is important to train your agents to handle the high demands and query traffic. You can do that by providing them with the right customer support system which helps them resolve the queries faster and effectively. Along with training the agents in practical skills and giving them hands-on training, it is important to train them in soft-skills as well. The most important virtue for an agent, especially this time of the year is empathy. Sometimes the customers just want someone to listen to their issue patiently – be that listening year. Also, since there are seasonal hires, it is important to train them well to handle the customers. After all, agents are the voice of your brand. Do not screw this up because you didn’t train them well.
4. Transform your Contact Center
A contact center is the gateway for the customers to reach you for support and service related issues. With the technology taking leaps and bounds in the recent times, the role of a contact centre has also evolved. Now, they have transformed into customer engagement centers or hubs. Taking this definition forward, you can use the latest technological advancements to ace your customer support. Some of the ways to do that are:
- Prioritizing urgent queries based on sentiment analysis and putting them at the front of the queue for the agents to resolve first
- Using a unified desktop to provide the agents with a 360-degree view of the customer and have well-informed conversations
- Providing the customers with an omnichannel experience and not restricting the ways for them to seek help.
- Having a knowledge base for the agents to refer to in real-time and resolve the queries faster
5. Make it Simple for the Customers
During the holiday season both adrenalin and emotions are running high. People have a lot of chores to do prior to the festive days and they are looking for quick answers. An effective way to manage this is by providing the customer with self-service support.
“72% of customers prefer self-service to resolve their support issues”
Create a Holiday Guide with answers to all the common questions that customers might have and make it readily available on online portals. Some of these FAQs could be:-
- What are your working hours?
- Where to get discount coupons?
- How to get an express delivery
- Return/ exchange policies
- Payment options & related issues
You can also publish the same on your website for easy access. Similarly a self-service IVR can also do the trick and help in reducing your customer support queries.
6. Expectation Management
Holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for everyone – customers and businesses likewise. Thus, it is important to be clear with your customers as to what and how much they should expect during this time. For example, notify them of slight delay in delivery due to high demand. That way, customers will be prepared and you will receive less queries from disgruntled customers inquiring about their order status. It is always better to underpromise and over-deliver.