Holiday time is not only about searching and wrapping gifts, watching festive movies, eating special festive meals, and writing letters to Santa Clause (yes, we still believe in him). It is also a very stressful time both for customers and businesses. And this happens because of the holiday rush when everyone hurries to do everything at the last minute.
According to the Freshdesk report, during this period:
- Most retailers add up to 650,000 new festive items to their websites
- Websites traffic increases up to 63%
- Customer queries increase up to 75%
- 47% of shoppers expect immediate resolution of their issues
These numbers have shown the colossal workload an ordinary customer service has to handle each festive season. Our article will give you a few tips and tricks on managing all the customers' inquiries stress-free.
How to Prepare Your Holiday Customer Service
Holidays are about joy and happiness, and you can't afford to ruin them for both your company and customers. It is not just like any other time of the year, so you have to adjust your business strategy to continue delivering exceptional and proactive customer service. You have to create a working plan for this very special season, taking into account last year's metrics and trends. Among the data you have to review are:
How many tickets did you have last year? This information will help you understand whether you need to hire extra people to help you handle all the tickets. It is a very useful practice that some well-known brands like Amazon have implemented in their business strategy. Each year they hire about 2000 holiday season customer service reps to help them deliver the best customer experience.
Do you need to hire full-time employees? No, you don’t; instead, you can hire temporary support reps or outsource and get help from an external company.
What articles are the most viewed and searched during the holiday seasons? What are they about? Study your tickets to find out what bothers your customers during this time. Make sure that those articles are up to date, have all the necessary information your customers may need, and are easily accessible on your FAQ page.
Of course, most customer services during the holidays try to offer their customers omnichannel support. However, this strategy might not be effective because customers' preferences might change during the festive season. Even those who prefer self-service to resolve their issues might become more comfortable dialing customer service during the holidays rush.
How to find this out? Study your last year's data and metrics to define which communication channels are more preferred among your customers during the holiday season. You can understand which channels to focus on based on the received data. If you don't have the historical data from the previous holiday season, make sure to pay attention and record it this year.
4 Tips on How to Manage Holiday Season Customer Service
1. Define the expectations
Setting the right expectation is key as customers tend to rely on the expectation you set when deciding whether your holiday customer service is good. For instance, you indicate that you have a 1-hour reply time. When a customer sees that this information is incorrect, your Customer Satisfaction Score (or simply CSAT) metrics may fall down.
So, is it better not to set any expectations at all? Unfortunately, no. This may lead to even bigger issues as humans easily evaluate something when they can compare. In this case, they can use their own references for comparison, which might be your competitor's services. And that is not what you are looking for, aren’t you?
How can you meet your customers' expectations then? Here are some of the key points:
- Make your customers aware of your availability
- Specify your reply time
- Use bots and other AI, and don’t be afraid to tell your clients about them
- Hire extra staff
- Make a clear refund and return policies
- Use autoresponders tools
2. Act proactively
What does staying proactive mean? We’ve already discussed customers’ expectations, and staying proactive means exceeding these expectations. In other words, staying proactive means anticipating your customers’ needs. What will this bring to your business?
- More loyal customers and brand advocates: it will help your customers choose your brand over competitors and tell everyone good words about your company
- Increased Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) metrics: this will help you reduce retentions costs and make your customers stay with you for a much longer time
- Broader clientele: when you act proactively, you can easily acquire new customers and enrich your existing client base
When creating a strategy on how to manage customer service during the holidays, you should answer the following questions:
- What obstacles do your customers face during the festive season?
- Which communication channels do they prefer?
- What are the typical questions you receive from your customers during the holidays?
Your main responsibility is to resolve customers’ issues. Make sure you record all these issues in one place, and everyone has access to it in order to provide excellent holiday season customer service. You can also ask for feedback from your customers. This way, you can find your weak points and know which problems your customers may face.
3. Opt for automation
Don’t underestimate automation when it comes to your support service. It can save a lot of time for your support reps, especially during the festive season. It is also a great way to keep your Average Response Time (ART) metrics low, reduce friction for your customers, and streamline all your working processes. What is more, you will be able to get more done in less time without the need for human work.
But do not automate everything. First, think of what processes need to be automated. Mostly, those are some repetitive tasks or manual work that can be easily resolved using bots or a knowledge base. Be extra careful when automating processes for first-time customers, as this may get them frustrated, compared to the repeat customers who already know the way around your service and website.
The next step is to create a unified channel for collaboration where you can store all the information silos you have. A help desk will be an optimal option in this case.
4. Take advantage of your helpdesk
A help desk is a smart software that will help you improve your workflow and streamline all your support operations:
- Saves your support agents' time using canned responses and inserting articles in their replies
- Allows creating scenarios out of a series of tasks that can be performed with a click of a mouse
- Allows you to integrate all the software you use in your support service (like CRM, order management tools, etc.) and have everything your agents need to be stored in one place
- Helps you to set up your own knowledge base for customers' self-service. This will save a lot of time for your agents as your customers will be able to find the needed answers themselves.
Undoubtedly, you need to plan your customer service strategy in advance to handle the festive rush efficiently, boost your conversions and sales, and provide superior service to your customers.
The secret of effective holiday time customer service is simple - just let your customers self-serve, be proactive, opt for automation of your operations, and try to exceed your customers' expectations. If planned in advance and appropriately, this time will help your customer support team grow. Good luck!
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