The holidays are often seen as high-volume times for retailers and other business-to-consumer organizations. However, business-to-business companies also have to be extra prepared to offer excellent customer support to clients who are working around the clock to make the most out of the season. Since their customers aren’t taking time off for the holidays, B2B customer support teams can’t, either.
The fact of the matter is that holidays are prime opportunity for organizations to prove their value to their clients. A poor customer experience during this busy time of year could translate to lost sales for the client and the risk of lost business for you. Considering the importance of the season, B2B companies need to get their support teams prepared sooner rather than later. Here are six helpful steps to ensure you have the best holiday season to date:
1. Look into last year
The first step any business should take when preparing its customer support teams for a busy time is to look into last year’s performance. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How many customers needed support during this time?
- What were the average response and resolution times for each ticket?
- How did we staff last year? Do we need more or fewer staff members this time around?
- What were some major pain points both customers and support teams dealt with?
- Were there any major mistakes or unhappy clients?
- What were the most common tickets we received?
B2B support organizations can get the most valuable information by looking into last year’s documentation, analyzing customer experience survey data, and even conducting surveys or circulating questionnaires among your staff.
2. Set priorities and goals
Once you’ve gained a thorough grasp of the customer support experience last year, start to set priorities for your team. One of the best things you can do is set up rules to prioritize tickets. For example create rules based on issues from 2014 that rolled into 2015 or required the greatest amount of time and resources. The last thing you want is for a complicated ticket from 2015 to roll into the new year. You can optimize this process by using a robust ticket management software application.
In addition to setting structure for ticket prioritization, it’s important to create a set of key goals for support teams to meet this year. This will help create accountability and even motivate team members to work harder. Consider offering some type of reward for achieving goals, which will make teams feel appreciated and encourage them to have an excellent season.
3. Conduct special training
Even the most seasoned customer support teams need extra training to prepare for holiday volume. Take a look at what you discovered analyzing last year’s data and let this information help you conduct a holiday-pre training session. Further, there a few additional key strategies to employ for holiday support training:
- Ask teams where they feel they are missing out and how they think they could improve.
- Take a look at each representative’s last ticket that went poorly. Determine the key problem and help them figure out how they could avoid the same issue in the future.
- Gather training topics ahead of time by encouraging team members to submit to a suggestion box or digital survey tool.
Above all, make sure your teams are fully versed on your customer support software. One way to make sure support teams are comfortable with the software and equipped to provide the best service this year is to conduct weekly simulations leading up to the holidays.
4. Get everyone on board
At all times, we believe customer support teams that are integrated with all departments are more effective than those who work in silos. However, this type of collaboration is especially important during the holidays when unexpected or more complicated requests could arise. Throughout the season, it is important to have experts and specialists available to assist support teams with customer service calls. Not only does this strategy raise the collective knowledge of the entire team, it ensures clients receive a resolution quickly, which is crucial to their holiday return on investment.
5. Update documents
It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s absolutely crucial to ensure both your internal and customer facing documents are up-to-date with accurate information. The last thing you want to do is create stress for a busy client during the holidays, and informative self-service documents can help free up room on the phone lines and in the inbox.
6. Show appreciation
Above all, you must show appreciation for your support team and everyone else who has agreed to work during the holidays. Not only will this boost their productivity and morale, it will make them more enjoyable for clients to work with and increase positive results over the long term. Make sure to show your gratitude before, during and after the holidays. By appreciating and rewarding your staff for their hard work, they will return the behavior by keeping clients happy and reducing the need to hire seasonal staff.
Holiday season can be a stressful time for any business, but with the right tools and a prepared team, customer support will be on the road to delivering excellence.