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Happy Holidays are coming for your business – or are they? Hi, I’m Joe Reale, a 15-year customer care veteran. Over my career, I’ve helped companies like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Ave, and ModCloth deliver stellar customer experiences. I hope you enjoy this first installment in a series of posts ramping up to the busiest time of year for customer care centers. Stay tuned for more tantalizing service tidbits from the “Service Is Selling” series.

Without further ado, here’s how to keep your customers happy during the holiday rush:

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I’m sure you’ve heard it before: “Press 1 for blah, or press 0 a hundred times for an agent.” Statistics prove that long intro messages and circuitous call routing can turn off your customer quicker than you can answer the phone. This could lead to missed opportunities, contact over multiple communication channels by the same customer, and the dreaded social media call-out.

If a customer is frustrated, the last thing they want is a questionnaire. Try shortening your pre-recorded message and/or options. Connect your customers to a live agent in 30 seconds or less through all channels. When call routing is absolutely necessary, then try rotating agents in a triage position. The triage agent(s) will greet your customer quickly and consistently while efficiently routing the issue both for the customer and your company.

2. Remain Agileagile
Chances are you already have a detailed plan of attack in place for holiday (if not, make that your new #1). Do you know how many agents you need and at what times, when will you hire and train your agents, who will you have handle overflow, escalations, etc?

There will always be roadblocks and detours, so just make sure you allow for flexibility in your forecast and coverage scenarios. Being able to change course and reallocate resources can mean all the difference between gaining or losing a customer for life.

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3. Have An Off-Site With Your Team

Step away from the office for a whole or half day. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re busy dealing with the daily operations of your relationship center. Gather your team and take everyone out to lunch if you can. Go over your “holiday blueprint” and ask for feedback to predict any pitfalls.

Holding a meeting outside of work will excite your employees and show them that planning is a crucial part of a successful holiday season. If you can’t hold the meeting off-site, get lunch delivered and choose a meeting room that’s far away from “home”. If you want to get really crazy, leave your laptops behind and designate a scribe to jot down important changes or ideas.

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4. Focus On Self Service

Customers love self-service. I mean, online shopping is pretty much the equivalent of the “self-checkout” lane at your favorite store. Help your customers help themselves. Make sure pertinent information is easily found on your site.

Create and fill an online knowledge base with all the FAQ’s you can. Not only will this assist in keeping your duration times low, but FAQ’s will eliminate a lot of interactions as well. A customer will usually only contact you if they can’t find the answer themselves. Make it easy for them and they will take it easy on you.

5. The Golden Rule

You want to deliver world-class service and leave a lasting impression on your customers, right? Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers. This is a very stressful time of year for everyone! If you can “leave your own stress at the door” it will go a long way to ensuring the satisfaction of your clients. After all, no one wants to deal with Debbie Downer or Negative Nick when they contact your company.

Try a potluck lunch to keep energy levels up for busy days. Make sure you are adequately staffed. Put together contests and competitions for the agent with the most satisfied customers in a day. These are just a few ways to motivate a team to deliver world-class customer service day in and day out.

Visit Helpshift to see the best mobile app support solution to grow your business. You can also get more customer care knowledge from our Service is Selling blog.

Published November 10, 2014
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