Among all departments within a business, the purchasing public continues to hold a company’s customer support teams to the highest of standards. This is even more apparent during the holiday season, when customer service volume increases by 75% while an average of $20 billion worth of items sold online from November and December gets returned to stores. Surely, that volume of sales activity will keep any business on its toe.
As such, the last thing you want is the quality of your customer service to take a dip during the most crucial time of the year. Keep in mind that negative online reviews are one of the most potent ways to tarnish a company’s reputation.
With the holidays fast approaching, there’s no better time than now to start preparing your customer support team. Whether you have your own customer support agents or if you’re considering customer support outsourcing, here’s how you can arm your business for the upcoming onslaught of the holiday season.
It’s important to anticipate what your business will need to be ready for approaching the holiday rush.
With your customers already worked up from the holidays, even the smallest hurdle in resolving their issues can cause them to lose faith in your business. The first step you can take to prevent customers from switching to your competitors is to ensure that your customer support team is properly trained and prepared for the holiday rush.
Conduct customer service training and get your representatives familiar with processes and FAQs. Arm your customer support team with all the information they need to handle inquiries, complaints, and irate customers.
With the increasing need of customer service during the holiday rush, your current workforce may not be enough to attend to all the concerns promptly. Consider hiring seasonal staff, either through part-timers or partnering with a customer support outsourcing agency. The additional manpower can help address all customer inquiries while maintaining the quality of service.
Review your processes against seasonal data that can help identify possible points of concern, and tweak it accordingly. More importantly, conduct dry runs to familiarize your customer support team with your business processes. Not only does this serve as training for your support staff, but it is also an excellent opportunity to test the effectiveness of your new and improved workflow.
Self-service options let your customers find solutions to their concerns on their own. Offering self-service portals make the load lighter on your staff and leaves your customers feeling empowered. Before the holiday is in full swing, update your FAQs to reflect any changes in operations for the holidays. Additionally, make sure your FAQs are readily available on all of your main communication channels.
An issue can escalate despite your staff’s best efforts, so it is important that your staff know what to do and who to bring the concerns to. Before the holiday rush, make sure to have a communications plan ready. Go over this plan with the entire team so that everyone is on the same page.
While preparations for the holiday rush are necessary, not everything can be fully anticipated. It’s good to have measures in place to address any unexpected changes, whether on the customer’s side or on yours.
The holidays can be a time where sudden events and situations come up unexpectedly. Your business needs to be prepared in case your staff may need to take time off work or can’t make it to their shifts. Having a system in place that allows for more flexible shifting or easy role substitution can make all the difference during the rush.
Customer concerns often have different levels of urgency. An efficient way to manage those and assign the right support staff is through implementing a triaging system. Like in emergency response, a triaging system allows your support agents to classify how urgent the issue is and effectively pass it to the concerned department.
Your customer service representatives are the heroes of the holiday season. Make sure that you recognize the hard work and effort they put in to respond to your customers. Allowing for flexible working hours, work-from-home setups, or redeemable leave can be an option. If you take care of your staff, your staff will, in turn, take care of your customers.
Before the holiday rush begins, making the necessary arrangements to keep your customer support staff prepared is half the battle. The other half is putting up measures and best practices to make efficient use of your staff’s time and your business’ resources during the rush.
The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, but providing quality customer service throughout this season will pay off. Beyond loyalty, happy customers spread positive word of mouth about your business.
So, always put your best foot forward this holiday season by being prepared.
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