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


Share on LinkedIn

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.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joanna Jones
Joanna Jones is a professional copywriter and marketing strategist who has partnered with Impact Learning Systems for two years. As a marketing professional, Joanna works closely with customer service teams and helps companies improve their B2B and B2C communications and strategy.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here