5 Ways to Make Your Customer Service Really Shine this Holiday Season

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Hal­loween was just here – pump­kins still grace doorsteps, and the leaves are falling – yet step into a retail store, and you’re likely to hear hol­i­day music blar­ing and be greeted by green and red col­ors bedeck­ing the shelves.

Yes, the hol­i­day “sea­son” is upon us.

If you work in cus­tomer sup­port – par­tic­u­larly in the retail sec­tor – chances are, the hol­i­day sea­son is your busiest time of year, and you’ll need to equip your cus­tomer ser­vice team with the nec­es­sary resources to han­dle the addi­tional calls, emails, and live chat traf­fic. For many com­pa­nies, hol­i­day sales and ser­vices bring in 25 – 40% of annual rev­enue, and how you treat your cus­tomers dur­ing the upcom­ing months can have a dras­tic effect on future sales and cus­tomer reten­tion. Your cus­tomer ser­vice needs to really shine dur­ing the win­ter months, so make sure your team is ready. We’ve com­piled five tips to improve cus­tomer ser­vice this hol­i­day season.



Hol­i­day Cus­tomer Ser­vice Tip #1: Look at last year’s metrics

Before you dive into your strat­egy for the Hol­i­day Sea­son of 2013, take a look back at last year’s met­rics over the hol­i­days to see where your weak­nesses and strengths were. Did your team strug­gle with first call res­o­lu­tion? Did you mea­sure cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion scores dur­ing the months of Novem­ber, Decem­ber, and Jan­u­ary? What was your call vol­ume? What types of issues were doc­u­mented? It’s help­ful to revisit the pre­vi­ous year so you can gear-up appro­pri­ately with train­ing and coach­ing before you head into this year’s busy season.

Hol­i­day Cus­tomer Ser­vice Tip #2: Staff up accord­ingly – but recruit inter­nally first

Look­ing at your met­rics from the pre­vi­ous year should give you an idea of how many addi­tional staff you will need to han­dle the increased call vol­ume, but before you con­sider hir­ing temp work­ers, first see if you can use inter­nal staff to fill the gaps. There are many advan­tages to using cur­rent employ­ees to assist with cus­tomer sup­port, includ­ing the fact that staff from other depart­ments will develop a bet­ter under­stand­ing of your cus­tomers. Zap­pos is known for using this tac­tic dur­ing the hol­i­days – in fact, they even recruit exec­u­tives to assist on the customer-side.

Hol­i­day Cus­tomer Ser­vice Tip #3: Reit­er­ate the impor­tance of lis­ten­ing skills

You and your staff are not the only ones feel­ing the stresses of the hol­i­day sea­son; your cus­tomers are too. The hol­i­days have a way of mak­ing almost all of our lives seem more hec­tic and rushed. Reit­er­ate to your team the impor­tance of using their active lis­ten­ing skills and man­ners when talk­ing to cus­tomers. A sim­ple “thanks for being patient,” and “I’m lis­ten­ing” can help dif­fuse a stressed customer’s fuse. Remind your cus­tomer ser­vice employ­ees to be extra con­sid­er­ate – your cus­tomers really will notice.

Hol­i­day Cus­tomer Ser­vice Tip #4: Acknowl­edge the customer’s problem

As we men­tioned in hol­i­day cus­tomer ser­vice tip #3, your cus­tomers are likely stressed and in a hurry dur­ing the hol­i­days. If your cus­tomer says there is a prob­lem, make sure your cus­tomer ser­vice team lis­tens care­fully (prac­tic­ing empa­thy) and acknowl­edges the prob­lem. In addi­tion to man­ners, empa­thy is often quick to go when we are in a hurry. It’s a great idea to run through a few call cen­ter train­ing games with your team before the calls start flood­ing in.



Hol­i­day Cus­tomer Ser­vice Tip #5: Beef-up multi-channel support

A 2012 hol­i­day sur­vey found that live chat was the most pre­ferred form of cus­tomer sup­port dur­ing the prime shop­ping months. A whop­ping 94% of cus­tomers reported that they were likely to use online chat – if avail­able – while shop­ping. Do you have a multi-channel hol­i­day sup­port strat­egy in place? In addi­tion to work­ing with your call cen­ter reps, have you been equip­ping a team to han­dle online sup­port? Remem­ber, use what your cus­tomers are using; if they expect to find online chat, offer it.

Be over-prepared, not under-prepared this hol­i­day season

Make a last­ing impres­sion on your cus­tomers this hol­i­day sea­son, win future busi­ness, and give your cus­tomers a rea­son to talk about your brand. By prepar­ing your team ahead of time, you’ll be ready to make the Hol­i­day Sea­son of 2013 a shin­ing success.

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