With the holidays here (wait, what?!), the tension is starting to rise. Customer service representatives have one of the most difficult jobs during the holiday season; not only are they faced with an increase in inquiries, they also have to deal with very stressed out customers on the edge of a holiday breakdown. Customers have high expectations of a business’s support team, and those expectations rise tenfold during the holidays. In order to best serve your customers, you need to start preparing your customer service team, and you need to start now. The last thing you want is to slip up during what could be the busiest time of the year!
Be the best customer service team possible this holiday season, with some pointers in the first of two HappyFox Holiday blog posts:
Don’t save holiday preparation until the last minute; get your team prepared at least a couple months in advance. Planning ahead and setting goals is crucial to the performance of your customer service team this holiday season. Some things to consider are:
- Workflow and training – In previous years, did you have enough representatives on-hand? Was your team burned out? You may need to hire or train new agents to tackle the busy holiday season. This requires additional training time, which needs to be done in advance to ensure your team will perform at its best.
- Customer satisfaction – What did customers like about last year’s holiday rush? What did they dislike? Take into consideration customer satisfaction from previous years and assess the areas that need to be improved.
- Customer inquiries – How many customer inquiries can you expect? Take a look at previous numbers and determine how to handle this year’s rush.
Update your FAQ (self-service support).
The purpose of an FAQ is to provide customers with the resources to solve their own problems (saving them the time of corresponding with a customer service representative). Make answers to common question available year-round, and update the list during the holidays. Include everything: holiday store hours, shipping and rush order information, holiday discounts and promos, new product information, return/exchange/cancelation policies, etc. 72% of customers prefer to answer questions on their own, so give them what they want and make their holiday shopping experience a breeze.
Focus on response time.
Customers are under a lot of pressure during this time of year, and they want their questions answered or order mistakes fixed immediately. A slow response time during the holidays can mean the difference between making or losing a sale. To achieve the fastest and most effective response times, categorize your inquiries by:
- Priority – How long has the inquiry been unattended? How upset is the customer? The longer the case has been sitting or the angrier the customer, the higher on the priority list.
- Products – Some agents may have a better understanding about certain products than others. Direct the inquiries to the person with the answers, rather than wasting time trying to solve an issue you don’t know the answer to right away.
- General – Questions regarding email/passwords or basic frequently asked questions should be directed to cross-trained staff, leaving more difficult inquiries to the trained customer service team. This way, time, and energy are not wasted and resolution time is speedy.
Each order is time-sensitive; any issue with a wrong order, a lost order, or a defect needs to be resolved as soon as possible to ensure the customer gets what they need before the holidays.
Have extra staff ready to go.
One thing is certain – you’re going to be busy. Your customer service team is going to be dealing with an influx of questions and concerns that will last throughout the entire holiday season, so make sure your support team has a back-up. It is in your best interests to add additional customer service representatives to make it through the holiday rush.
This doesn’t necessarily mean hiring new or seasonal employees. In fact, cross-training existing employees can actually save your business the time and money that goes into new hires. Your existing employees already know the company and often times can answer many of the general questions that customer support handles (leaving the most specific questions to the customer service reps).
Get your whole company involved in customer support to create a seamless, fast, and effective support team for the busy season. An additional bonus: cross-training will give your other employees a better understanding of the needs and wants of your customers.
The holiday rush is not only stressful for customers, but for your staff as well. By following the tips above (extra training, preparation, and planning), your customer service team will feel confident and able to deal with both the good and bad of the holiday shopping season.
There will be upset customers. There will be angry comments, stressful interactions, and unhappy people. Your customer service representatives need to feel prepared to handle these situations calmly, quickly, and to the best of their ability.
Tomorrow, we will talk about some company policies and strategies that will set your business up for some serious success this holiday season!
In the midst of all of this, looking at a new customer support solution might not seem like the best option, but with HappyFox you and your team will really be given the tools for success this holiday season. Get a one-on-one live demo today!