The holidays are a joyful time to close out the year and look back on everything your team has accomplished. It’s also a time when to-do lists run long and responsibilities pile up. For customer support teams that are unprepared, this dramatic increase in queries can lead to pressure that directly impacts customers and leaves them with a negative experience that damages a company’s reputation.
Putting customers at the forefront of your mind and keeping consistent, high standards among an escalating volume of tickets is a struggle that almost everyone faces. Quicker responses do not always equate to better responses. Finding balance by offering high-quality solutions in a timely manner will provide customers with excellent support and utilize your resources to their full advantage without adding stress to your team.
Here are 10 tips to offer the best holiday customer support possible this holiday season.
Our top 10 tips to provide fantastic holiday customer service
1. Outsource your customer support
Contracted support offers many different benefits during the holiday season. You can scale your team to size up or down as needed without over-hiring or having to let people go when sales slow down again. With additional support from experts in multiple time zones, it takes tremendous amounts of stress off your in-house agents and keeps customer support consistent. You can also save time and money by outsourcing client concerns like refunds, order issues, returns, and exchanges so that you can devote more of your attention to other crucial facets of your company. Customers will be grateful for the assistance and won’t have a clue that the support was provided by a contracted team.
2. Empower customers through self-service
Self-service optimizes customer experience (CX) while giving buyers access to the knowledge and services they need when they need them. According to Harvard Business Review…
For a B2C business, the cost of a self-service transaction can be measured in pennies, while the average cost of a live service interaction (phone, email, or web chat) totals more than $7.
Self-service can be beneficial for more reasons than just cutting costs. The last thing customers want is to be tied up in a queue when they could feel empowered with the answer at their fingertips.
How to offer self-service options:
- Answer the right questions on your FAQ page
- Display information in an easy-to-understand way
- Write articles discussing common difficulties and link in your automated responses or throughout your FAQ page
- Consider software that supports ticket deflection by providing relevant articles before creating a ticket
According to Forrester, two-thirds of customers say that the most important thing a company can do to provide good service is to value their time such as through easy, effective self-service.
3. Set your team up to be successful
With proper training, you can keep your team updated on industry changes and allow them to improve their knowledge and skills to continually provide the best possible service. Schedule time to re-train fundamental customer service techniques and best practices to arm your team with everything they need to succeed. To allow all departments to sync, consider a brief company-wide meeting before things get too hectic that covers scheduling, expectations, and procedures.
Bonus tip: Automate when possible, but don’t over-automate!
4. Motivate and reward your team during this period
Appreciating and rewarding employees is not only excellent for retention, but it shows them that you are truly grateful for their effort.
A few of our favorite ways to reward holiday workers:
- Offer the opportunity to work from home
- Consider half days on or leading up to holidays
- Offer a day off during non-busy times or a day in lieu
- Provide overtime pay
- Run a ballot giveaway with an awesome prize that employees get extra entries for when they work overtime
- Schedule holiday rotation shifts so that no one is working multiple holidays
There are so many ways to show your employees that you are thankful for them and a company-wide holiday party that celebrates your wins for the year is a great way to get everyone in the holiday spirit. You know what they say…good food is a good mood.
5. Make your returns & exchanges easy
Check out our guide to creating an awesome eCommerce return policy! With your straightforward return/exchange policy in place, all that’s left is to clearly communicate it with your customers and make sure it’s easy for them to request returns.
If you have a physical location, you could offer customers the opportunity to come in-store to exchange their product within the policy timeframe or guide them through the online process and gather feedback on why they want to return. Either way, gathering customer feedback here is valuable to learn why customers are unhappy with a product and how to prevent it from happening in the future.
6. Proactively address frequent and repetitive queries
Solving problems before they happen will save time for your customers and agents. Make sure that updated information such as hours and shipping dates are transparent and easily available to customers on your website, social media, and newsletter. Review last season’s tickets and refresh automated messages to address recurring issues.
Common holiday questions to create canned responses for:
- How long do refunds take to be processed?
- When do your holiday deals go live?
- What are your holiday return policies?
- When is the order the deadline for guaranteed Christmas delivery?
- How can I use a promo code?
Pro tip: Even though these predefined answers can be copy-pasted, don’t forget to add a personalized touch to each interaction!
7. Use social media to your advantage
Using social media to keep content updated with your latest products, sales, hours, and other pieces of information can be an affordable way to communicate with customers. Incorporate fun ways to engage your audience by using Instagram story questions and polls, running an occasional giveaway, or sharing user-generated posts.
Keep in mind that video content typically performs better than static images. If you publish social ads, framing your messaging around any special offers or seasonal product launches is a great way to draw in a new audience.
8. Offer live chat support
Without a doubt, live chat support is a crucial part of excellent holiday customer service. Embedding live chat into your eCommerce site means the support experience is seamless.
Live chat benefits for consumers include:
- Immediate solutions
- A more pleasant eCommerce experience
- Not needing to provide details multiple times
- Not having to use external communications
Live chat is meant to mimic in-person interactions. In real-time, customers can reach out to get immediate support through chatbot automation. Then, if the problem cannot be fixed, the conversation can be directed to an available chat support agent who can help solve the problem.
9. Make sure your site is user friendly
Have you ever been on a website and had a horrible experience? This could be anything from slow site speed to having to dig around for what you’re looking for. It’s frustrating and it may have resulted in you giving up and leaving the site to look elsewhere.
Putting user experience (UX) first is always a good idea. When creating forms, make them as simple as possible. Ensure mobile compatibility and magnify effective navigation to get visitors where they want to be in a timely manner.
10. Prepare a plan for unhappy customers
The holidays can be a stressful time for customers. Oftentimes, customers deemed ‘rude’ are either overwhelmed, pressed for time, or are simply just having a bad day and it’s not always personal. Unhappy customers want to be heard.
To keep conversations positive, it’s essential that support agents are trained to maximize empathy and de-escalate confrontational interactions. There’s typically always a solution to delight unhappy customers, and each complaint is a chance to prevent future problems from arising.
Provide excellent customer support for the holidays
Be sure to check out our eCommerce holiday trends report 2022 to learn what to expect this holiday season.
If you’re in need of some helping hands during the holidays, our support teams are available 24/7, 365 days a year. We can provide an extra layer of support for your existing team that can be scaled up or down as needed. Browse our support solutions to see how Influx can benefit you!