Customer service agents need training, tools and some love around the holidays (Credit: Charanjeet Dhiman on Unsplash)
Newsflash: ecommerce is on the rise, even if there has been a bit of a pullback lately, and the peak of the holiday season is now upon us. As the activity ramps up, so does the demand for high-quality customer service.
According to Kura, customer service calls went up by 110% over the 2021 Christmas period. And over 91% of customers include return policies in their buying decisions, so there is an expectation for great customer service. Preparing to accommodate this will improve the efficiency of your company and enhance the customer experience.
Here are 5 tips to help you can keep on top of the increased volume of calls, complaints and inquiries, and provide the best customer service experience possible this holiday season.
Being available for your customers is necessary, and the biggest time waster is being put on hold. With 32.3% of consumers believing this shouldn’t happen, and 27.6% saying they’ll only wait one minute, staff up with enough agents to handle the influx of customer calls.
Making sure your figures and call expectations are updated, especially in the run up to Christmas, can eliminate confusion and provide your customers with the most transparency. Letting them know when call volumes are low or high is a customer-friendly way to impress.
If you’re struggling with the volume of calls, customer service outsourcing could be the answer. Whether this is a temporary or permanent measure, expanding your customer service to a company that can manage high volumes of complaints can improve the customer experience.
Almost 76% of customers say they would stop doing business with a company they had a bad experience with. Improving the efficiency of your customer service processes can help provide consistent quality. This can be done through omnichannel customer service, centralizing and integrating communications from multiple sources into one dedicated channel.
Adopting an omnichannel experience will not only help your agents seamlessly find the information they need, but it will help eliminate repetition and complications from the process. Whether you’re transferring a customer from live chat to a phone call, or handling inquiries across teams, an omnichannel experience can make sure client information is easily retrievable.
About 70% of customers use more than one channel during the buying process and 46% say the most important part of their shopping experience is channel choice. Improving accessibility is crucial to ensure the best communication, so make it a priority to offer a multitude of options, which can be easily managed by your team.
High call or inquiry volumes can often be difficult to manage. Implementing AI powered chatbots can help cut down easily managed complaints and queries. With 87.2% of global consumers claiming either a neutral or positive engagement with a chatbot, adopting them could improve the efficiency of your customer service without sacrificing quality.
Chatbots can be accessed 24/7, answering routine questions and queries. Those who can’t access your services throughout the day can have their issues addressed after hours. Chatbots can also act as an intermediate platform, referring customers to an agent if the complaint cannot be handled through automation.
Train Associates to Handle High Emotions
Being able to manage stress and high emotions, both from a personal and customer perspective, is important for the continual and consistent quality service you look to provide.
Ensuring employees are trained to their full potential, with the confidence to handle sensitive emotions with compassion and empathy is key. Managing stress during the peak holiday season is especially important. Lastly, maintaining a professional and friendly manner, no matter the complaint, is essential for the best customer experience.
Christmas can be a good time to consider tweaking employee benefits and to spot signs of burnout. Hiring temporary staff is another measure to consider. Ensuring staff wellbeing is maintained leads to better communication as well as more efficient and productive calls.
Reward Your Team Members
This time of year, it’s important to reward your employees for the hard work they put in. This can also act as an incentive throughout the peak holiday season.
Rewards could include:
- A Christmas party or event
- Bonuses and financial benefits
- Free food and drink in office
- Additional holidays during the coming year
Making sure your employees feel supported and appreciated, especially those who work throughout the holidays, is important for keeping morale high.
The peak holiday season is a busy time for customer service teams, with many returns and complaints that need to be handled. Making sure your agents are well equipped for the upcoming rush is important not only for their happiness and comfort but for the benefit of your customers.
Owen Campbell is head of operations at Kura