The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be a challenging time for businesses. For retail businesses, apart from increased sales in-store and online, customers are also more likely to contact customer service over queries such as delivery or collection of orders, product availability, and making returns or exchanges. For Technical Support teams, however, it may actually mean a drop in the number of inbound calls but they also have to manage staff taking holiday and working on a reduced schedule. Sustaining high levels of customer service during this time can actually give businesses the chance to shine and build up customer loyalty that will last them throughout the coming year.
With this in mind, here are some useful tips on maintaining high levels of customer service during this holiday season:
Advertise operational times
Businesses must ensure that customers are informed about operational hours during the holiday season. Consider sending out a seasonal email to all customers and including details of opening hours, closed days and the available channels for contacting customer service.
Optimise resource management
Call analytics and data from previous years can help forecast the number of calls that can be expected during the holiday season. It can also help you to plan resources so that you have the optimum number of agents available to take calls. For example, if your Support team is expecting a drop in the number of calls, you can plan for a reduced number of working staff and operational hours. Or if your call centre is expecting a spike in inbound calls, you can hire more agents in advance or extend the working hours.
Multichannel support through email, web chat and social media, offers more options to customers for contacting customer service and helps reduce the volume of phone calls. Where possible use automation and ensure an instant response to all queries, such as automatic email replies or automatic direct messages on social media.
Use performance dashboards
Performance dashboards are a great way of monitoring call volume and team performance in real time. This also helps to efficiently manage agents and allocate resources to meet demand. When the holiday season is over, you can use the data to analyse call statistics and compare the performance to previous years.
Reduce waiting times
During peak hours, customers may take more time to reach agents. There are a number of telephony features available to reduce waiting times. Interactive Voice Response (IVR), for example, responds to customers when they dial in and routes them to the right team for their query. Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) helps to distribute calls evenly amongst available agents. Another option is to offer customers the opportunity to leave a voicemail and request a call back when an agent becomes available.
Prepare a contingency plan
Unforeseen circumstances can affect the best of plans. It is essential to have a contingency plan in place for when agents call in sick or they can’t make it to the office. Utilising an advanced telephony solution enables your agents to be able to work remotely allowing you to have a bank of agents on call should they be required. This is also great if there is a spike in the call volume and you need agents to log in and help out with little notice and for short periods of time.
The holiday season offers many businesses a window of opportunity to make a great impression on customers. Happy customers means continued loyalty and support for your business throughout the coming year. Optimising resources, planning efficient processes to deal with customer queries and preparing a contingency plan, will all help to ensure the quality of service customers receive and assist your business in achieving its goal of maintaining high levels of service during the holiday season.