Christmas is the happiest time of the year, but that goes without saying that the holidays is the busiest time for businesses too. Retailers, manufacturers, logistics companies, restaurants, even taxi firms have to ramp up their transactions as the demand for their services rise. The pressure is apparent, and so is the opportunity to gain new customers and increase profits. The challenge is on and more crucially so for any customer care team, the considerable lifeblood of any business.
Nothing beats preparation and strategy when traffic to customer channel suddenly increases as a result of the Christmas rush or any unexpected event. This, of course, will be paramount to the success of a business. Investing thus in a good customer strategy—and not just on Christmas—can lead to any company’s competitive edge.
Today’s customers are connected 24/7, much more informed and empowered by real-time. They expect not only to shop online any time but to self-serve and connect to businesses through channels of their choice. They expect the same level of customer service during a busy period such as Christmas as they would during a quieter day. This has a crucial impact on the perception of the brand—a matter some businesses fail to recognize at times.
In order to build brand loyalty, reduce costs, and increase sales, having a consistent year-round customer service strategy in place—and not just for Christmas—will ensure that customers get customer care experience. Here’s a list of pointers that the best support departments practice:
1. Engage proactively with customers
There’s no substitute for knowing your customers and their specific needs. Waiting for your customers to contact you and only servicing them when they do is unproductive, unpredictable, and creates issues with managing resources through peaks and troughs of traffic. That being said, knowing and having the right tools at hand to address various customer care concerns can also do wonders. You’d be surprised at the number of meaningful conversations you can have when you don’t stumble around in the dark.
Customers are easily frustrated to be at the receiving end of support when service isn’t outfitted correctly. Make sure to update in-queue messaging, informing customers about order delivery through SMS, email, and offering call-back during business period.
2. Master clear communication
Nothing beats clarity in communication, with talking as the best and most fundamental way to connect with customers. It is paramount and affects everything you do. Keep in mind that this is not just the concern of one department, stakeholders from marketing, insight, and service also need to see what is going on. Communication within a business is also key. It is best to liaise with the marketing team regarding event calendar, posts, and updates. This will let the customer care team know when to resource for busier times.
When talking to customers, note that style and tone affect communication. Don’t use the passive-aggressive language (i.e. Never start a statement with “Actually…”) or confuse customers with slang, colloquialisms, or technical jargon. Stick to a layman’s terms.
3. Give credence to complaints
Don’t be intimidated by harsh comments from customers. While it is a sign that something is wrong, sometimes feedback is buried within the vitriol, which is reason to give credence to each complaint. Consistently handle complaints using the CARP method: Control the situation; Acknowledge the dilemma; Refocus the conversation; Problem-solve so a customer leaves happy. Receiving the same complaint repeatedly is the beginning of a narrative. It reveals what require your attention.
4. Match service offerings with specific needs of different customer groups
The great transition to the digital platform translates to the fact that younger people want immediate access to information hence the reason they are comfortable with technology in getting what they need. This gives rise to contact centers choosing to implement self-service options such as Web and mobile IVR (interactive voice response) to provide callers with access to status updates and steer priority calls quickly to the right advisor.
IVR & mobile IVR systems manage high volume, repetitive requests from callers very effectively, making them well-suited for dealing with high call volumes at busy times like Christmas. IVR also promotes a far better caller experience than waiting in a queue, a common customer complaint at this time of year. And, when used in tandem with real agents, IVR delivers significant business benefits by enabling hard-pressed call center staff to focus on high-value, priority or emergency calls.
That being said, self-service approach will not always be the right option. Old customers will always want to speak face-to-face with somebody who knows them and empathizes with their needs. This is where the idea of connected enterprise makes sense. Combing intelligible flexible customer interaction platform with the latest unified communications (UC) technologies, everyone in the organization can be part of a virtualized customer support team, focused on giving customers what they want, while resolving ever engagement in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
5. Know how to close
The ability to close a conversation with a customer does great improvement in each single transaction. Don’t leave issues unresolved which otherwise only creates unnecessary problems. Data suggests that only 4 percent of dissatisfied customers will not speak up or bring up what exactly is bothering them—mostly because you haven’t communicated that you care enough. Showing these three important things will prove your willingness to close a conversation: You care about getting it right; You’re willing to keep going until you get it right; The customer is the one who determines what “right” is. A statement like “Is there anything else I can do for you today” opens up opportunities to help. Be sure you and your team get to place where “Yes I’m all set!” rings loud and clear.
6. Scale up to meet demand
Although the quality of service delivered is paramount, it’s the ability to deal with large volumes of inquiries quickly and efficiently that’s most exercised by business during the busier times of the year. For instance, it’s during Christmas time when companies benefit from being able to switch on an extended contact center, which is why having a cloud-based solution in place can be vital at busy times of year and why at these times, businesses really need to ‘scale and flex’.
With a cloud or hybrid based model, organizations can use their employees much more flexibly, bringing contact center staff on stream to cope with periods of peak demand and then ‘switching them off’ again when situations calm down. Cloud and hybrid based contact centers help organizations tap into these kinds of knowledge-based workers, no matter where they are based. As long as they have a thin client browser, businesses can ensure that anyone based anywhere in the world on almost any device can be part of the conversation and help customers get key information holiday opening times or make sure their last minute gift is delivered on time.
7. Give thanks
We’ve entered a world where retention matters in business more than ever but web-based businesses avoid interacting with customers. People aren’t page views or numbers. Bringing personal touch back to the real world is one of the best ways to build customer loyalty. Consider handwritten notes sent through snail mail. These 5-minute tasks can surprisingly rake in as much return of investment. Go out of your way. You don’t have to hand-write every time but never neglect thanking your customers.