The December holiday season is important for every retailer on earth – sales surge as festive merchandise hits the shops and everyone buys presents or goes out shopping for Christmas dinners. And this trend of increased sales seems to get more prominent every year:
For 2019, Internet Retailers predicted their online sales would jump 13.5% compared to last year’s holiday sales numbers. Source
Still, despite the huge rush in sales, companies need to stay alert if they want to deliver the best holiday customer service. Your customers might know that you’ll handle a higher volume of requests during this season, but they certainly wouldn’t want to see you compromising.So, to help you provide the best possible user support in this busy period, and keep the holiday spirit alive, we put together a list of five useful holiday customer service tips:
1. Create a concrete plan
To tackle the holiday period challenge, plan beforehand. Start setting up your processes or make key hires two or three months before the peak period starts.Here are some things you could do:
- Set up goals and objectives for holiday customer service (e.g. response times for online chats during the holiday season)
- Implement feedback from existing customers to resolve issues before the big surge
- Understand what your shoppers need and want via market research and generate ideas for holiday programs (e.g. discounts, promotions)
- Start hiring early or provide some extra training to current employees
- Buy more equipment or overheads like tools and office space, if needed
- Check your data from previous years to work out how many inquiries you’re likely to receive on a daily basis
2. Choose the right tools for holiday customer service
Even the best support teams can’t thrive without technology that’s up-to-date and meets their unique needs. 63% of businesses “expect to spend significantly more or somewhat more on customer experience,” and part of these investments should be on innovative technology that can improve customer experience.There are several tools and software your customer support team can use. Tools like Acquire Live Chat can assist customer support agents in addressing customer complaints quickly and smoothly.
Live chat helps agents perform a number of essential actions when communicating with customers, like real-time messaging, video chatting, audio chatting, cobrowsing, screen sharing, file sharing, and call recording. So, during the holiday season, this tool can help you decrease response times and increase customer satisfaction.
3. Empower your team to resolve issues quickly
The worst line a shopper can hear on the phone: “Your call is very important to us. Please continue to stay on the line and hold.” Source— American Express Survey, 2011Customers don’t like to be put on hold for too long or have to speak to too many people to resolve their issues. This means that your customer support agents need to have the freedom and ability to resolve problems without constantly checking in with their supervisors. Especially during the holiday season, when time is of the essence.So what to do? Train your team to make sure they have the knowledge to handle most cases. Explain the goals you’ve set and support your agents as much as possible to help them meet those goals.Once they’re properly trained, give them the authority to resolve issues on their own and monitor their success rates. And, for cases when there’s a question they don’t know the answer to, consider implementing AI chatbots that can provide help to your customers or agents using a knowledge base.
4. Keep your team happy and motivated during times of stress
“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients” – Richard BransonThe theory is quite simple. If you keep your team happy, they’ll have greater motivation to take care of your customers and go the extra mile. So, consider your support agents’ working hours during peak times and assign extra breaks or give out snacks and drinks. If your company budget allows, give out holiday bonuses, and offer an extra day off for rest when the stressful period is over. Remember that your team will be present to represent your company when they could have been with their loved ones instead – so make sure you show them you are grateful. This will help ensure superior holiday customer service that benefits your business.
5. Train agents to handle disgruntled customers
35% of people have lost their temper whilst interacting with service, according to American Express.Customer support is a tough job and during the holiday season it can get even tougher. Customers will be in a hurry, emotions will boil over. Your team has to be prepared for some harsh words and bad tempers from your shoppers. So, train your team to remain calm and use language to calm the customer, too. It’s important that they’re able to keep a positive attitude when it’s most needed.Of course, don’t forget to establish a policy for abuse: sometimes, customers will cross the line, insulting or verbally abusing your agents. At this point, your agents should be allowed to hang up the phone or leave the chat – your business’s responsibility is first and foremost toward its employees. Create the policy, including ways to report incidents (Acquire’s call recording function may help with this), and communicate it to your employees. And this policy should be valid all year long.
Keep up the good work
If you incorporate these holiday customer service tips, you’ll be able to seamlessly navigate a stressful period and ensure your customers remain loyal. And remember, in the words of Donald Porter, in his time as VP of British Airways, “Customers do not expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.” So, don’t focus too much on every single little thing going off without a hitch, just make sure your agents can provide the right solution at the right time.