The holiday season can be one of the most stressful time of the year, regardless of which side of the shopping frenzy you are on. Whether you’re a shopper searching for the perfect gift or a business owner looking to increase your sales, there are various social obligations to be observed and followed to ensure a festive outcome for everyone.
For marketers and business owners, there are customer care and service expectations to be met as well, and those expectations can reach a fever pitch during the holiday rush. With more shoppers come more customer interactions, and more interactions can go either of two ways.
One, it can be used as an opportunity to impress clients with an excellent customer experience. Second is the flip side, however, where an increase in customer touchpoint increases the likelihood of unsatisfied customers who might never come back to purchase from you again in the future.
How can you avoid any worst case customer service scenarios amidst holiday rush? Here’s a guideline for you to follow.
1. Assign the right customer interactions to the proper teams immediately.
The peak season is when more customer queries come in. Even with careful planning and proper execution, receiving customer issues and disgruntled customers are an inevitability. It simply comes with the territory, and the best way to handle these types of issues is through a systematic and efficient divide and conquer process.
When a customer ticket or issue comes in, don’t let it linger in the inbox indefinitely. Tag it right away, and then assign it to the right employees who can best solve it immediately. Don’t allow time for the problem to fester and escalate further, where you’ll have to handle irate customers and possibly lose them, too.
Guage the level of urgency and attention needed for each specific case, and promptly send them to the people with the most expertise. Find ways to automate the process if you can. You waste less time, effort, and energy with this system while delivering the best service possible.
2. Make it easier for customers to help themselves.
It’s a little known fact that customers prefer to help themselves rather than be hand-held at every step of the buying process. It seems counter intuitive, but its true: according to Forrester, 72% of customers would rather solve their own problems through self service rather than call an agent or send an email to resolve issues.
How can you help clients help themselves? Here’s an easy and effective way to do it: create a FAQ page specifically for the holidays. Gather all the possible questions you might get during this high volume season and address each one thoroughly on that page. Most queries centre around shipping schedules and exchange policies, so make sure that’s included.
3. Equip your front liners with the right tools and training.
Don’t leave your customer service agents and front liners hanging. Empower them to handle problems efficiently without having to call the supervisor at every step or client escalation. Making agents feel like they have control over the situation has the added bonus of giving them confidence to interact with clients, and this gives them a more cheerful disposition that should permeate the air during the holiday season. Because at the end of the day, all the stress and issues revolving happen with the sole purpose of ensuring that everyone has a truly memorable, joyful Christmas season. It’s easy to lose sight of that amidst the holiday rush, so use this as an opportunity to let your agents deliver amazing service which will set you apart from competitors.
4. Strive for speedy, hassle free resolution as much as possible.
Fast response times are an invaluable asset during the holiday rush, because it assures clients that there are people behind the scenes who will help resolve their issues. Simply letting them know that support is available when they need it contributes to a smooth sailing season and less things to worry about.
5. Leverage on your current employees to handle the increase in customer queries.
While most companies hire temps in order to cope with the peak season, why not differentiate your brand by letting your current employees absorb the added inquiries coming in? This benefits everyone in three ways: first, clients are assured that an experienced employee is handling their issue; second, employees gain insight into customer needs and become more knowledgeable about company operations; and third, there’s no need to hire newbies who don’t have a stake in the company and would more likely slow down operations.
As a final note, remember that the best way to avoid the stress of the peak season is by planning ahead. It is best to start mapping out your holiday strategy about three months before the holidays. This gives you enough time to analyze trends and workflows to enable you to make the right decisions on how best to handle the increase in client inquiries and sales volumes when the holiday season comes around.
The goal here is to ensure that even after the dust settles and the new year arrives, the customers you gained during the holiday rush remember your brand in a good way. You can do this by giving them the best customer experience you can provide, where you’re more likely to gain loyal clients who can become brand advocates in the long run. Holiday or no holiday, these are the types of customers who will stick with you for years to come.