With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s important to start considering how your business will manage the increased workload on your customer service team. Greater sales volume is normally a good thing provided your business can continue to offer exceptional service to every customer.
Unfortunately, customers don’t always fully understand the additional stress put on businesses towards the end of the year. They still expect the same level of service during your peak periods as they receive during the off-season.
How are you planning to manage the holiday sales surge? Whether you operate online or interact with customers face-to-face, you’ll need to start thinking about your holiday customer service strategy today.
Don’t feel overwhelmed — here are a few small steps you can take in order to ensure you’re better prepared to keep up with increased demand during the last few months of the year.
Develop a Proactive Customer Service Approach
How can you ensure your customers know what to expect during your busy season? If your customers are aware of longer wait times or possible stock outs, they are less likely to become frustrated.
One of the best ways to give your team some space is to set up automated replies to emails offering links to your self help page, chatbots, and letting them know a reasonable window to receive a reply — in a perfect world, you’d reply to an email within 3 hours but it may be longer during your peak periods.
Make sure your contact info is found easily on your website. This may seem like a no-brainer but there are a shocking number of businesses with their contact information buried in an obscure part of their website.
Try to make it front and center so your customers don’t have to go searching in the case of an urgent matter. Also, ensure that you are clear about every channel you offer so the customer can choose which best suits their needs.
One of the best ways to be proactive about the coming influx of business is to take a look at what happened during your last few holiday seasons.
Use Previous Data to Set Expectations
You may or may not have specifically tracked all the numbers from previous years’ peak seasons — if you haven’t, this year is the time to start.
Keeping track of quantitative and qualitative data is worth every bit of effort. It will help you create more effective plans, sales forecasts, and customer service strategies for future holiday seasons — and boost your bottom line.
The most obvious metrics to keep track of are costs and revenues but have you thought about number of emails, most frequent customer questions, or length of phone calls? All of these metrics provide context to your revenues and allow you to set better expectations.
Offer More Self-Service Options
Do you currently offer a blog, FAQs, tutorials, or chatbots on your website? These tools can greatly reduce your customer service team’s workload by allowing the customer to find answers on their own. They also improve the customer service experience by allowing the customer to find fast answers to frequent questions.
If a customer can find their answer quickly via self-service channels, they may be more likely to convert right then and there.
Businesses can quickly become overburdened with common requests over the holidays. A couple of examples include “what hours are you open?” or “do you ship to x location?”
These simple questions shouldn’t pull your team away from assisting customers with more complicated requests or sales calls. Instead, customers with these types of questions should be able to find the answer via self-service channels.
It’s worth your time to make note of frequently asked questions and keep a blog or FAQ page up-to-date. Implementing a chatbot on your homepage is also beneficial as it can automatically answer their questions or direct them to the right page — saving your customer service team valuable time.
Self-service channels are an inexpensive way to reduce customer frustration and positively impact conversions. During your peak seasons, they also improve your team’s morale by reducing stress from customer service requests.
Find Ways to Respond Quickly
Response times are one of the most important factors in regard to whether or not you convert a sale. This is especially true during the holiday season when customers are often in a rush to find what they want. If a business can’t provide the product or service they need within a short time frame, they’re contacting the next one that can.
How are you preparing your team to respond to customer requests as soon as possible?
As we mentioned above, reducing the workload through chatbots and self-help options are a great place to start. Both of these channels allow the customer to find what they’re looking for without ever needing to speak with a team member — allowing them to focus on larger scale requests.
Prepare your customer service team with ready-to-go replies to known issues. If you are anticipating a large number of requests related to the same problem, making sure your team knows how to respond in the most effective way can greatly reduce customer frustration and increase confidence with your brand.
Examine Your Current Customer Service Channels
What customer service channels are you currently using? Depending on the size of your business you may only have a couple of options for your customers to get in touch — usually email and phone.
While this is a great place to start, it’s advisable to expand your customer service channels during peak seasons to prevent the business from becoming overwhelmed and losing potential customers to a competitor — the holiday season is also hectic for our customers so they’re often going to go with whoever they can get in touch with.
Offering your customers freedom of choice in regard to how they interact with your business generates revenue. By adding features like chatbots, self-serve pages, social media, and making the most of data analytics, you can make this holiday season the best one yet.
We know you likely have a lot on your plate leading into the peak season which is why Omnie is here to help. We offer competitive rates on managed customer service plans so you and your team can focus on the business.
You can also learn more about our managed customer service solutions here.