I remember distinctly one year where my mother received a new Macbook for Christmas. While she was excited to have a new computer, she couldn’t figure out the best way to transfer files from her old PC to her new Mac. So on Christmas Day—Christmas morning, to be exact—she called into Apple’s support line to help her get up and running on her brand new computer.
Though the customer service line was open on the holiday, there was a long wait time before an agent could get to her call. When the agent did pick up, he was very kind and in a festive, holiday mood. However, she still spent an hour on the phone with him trying to understand how to complete the file transfer, as my sister and I grew increasingly impatient to start Christmas brunch and move on to other fun holiday activities. Although my mother was happy to have the customer support, she also wanted to be finished with the support phone call sooner than she was.
Here are some ways to provide great customer service during the holidays:
Respond to Issues Quickly
Long hold or wait times are only going to exasperate customers who probably have many other things to do during the holidays. Whether it’s more shopping, wrapping presents, cooking a meal, or simply spending time with family. The sooner you can provide service and the faster the resolution time, the happier the customer will be. Nobody wants to spend the holidays talking to customer service for hours. And even if your customer service support team is closed on certain holidays, having an auto-responder or some other method of quickly acknowledging the customer’s issue and letting them know when help will be available again will go a long way for customer satisfaction.
Improve Your Self-Service Options
To keep both your support team and customers in festive moods during the holidays, provide ways for your customers to help themselves. Whether that means providing them with guides, manuals, or other tools online to be able to solve their own problems. According to Forrester Research, 72% of customers prefer self-service over having to contact customer support. Also, the more self-support options there are, the fewer service calls your customer support agents will have to field, meaning you potentially won’t have to schedule a large staff during the holidays.
Empower Customer Service Agents
The more information your customer service support team has about the customer and their purchase, product, or service needs, the faster and easier it will be to help them. If service agents are able to offer personalized service, they can feel empowered to solve customer problems the first time without needing to escalate calls to other departments. Empowering agents could also mean giving your customer service team other tools, such as the ability to refer customers to crowd support members that might be able to better help them with their specific device or problem. The more knowledgeable they are about a customer or product, the more empowered the customer service agent will be, and the more likely they’ll be able to deliver customer delight.
Create Holiday Greetings
Whether it’s a simple holiday graphic on your website, a holiday note in an email, or cheery holiday hold music instead of the regular hold tunes, these small details can put your customers in a better mood when they reach out to your support team. No one truly enjoys dealing with unhappy customers, especially during the holidays, but creating some holiday cheer could be good for both your service agents and your customers.
Plan Ahead and Prepare Staff
The holiday season can be a time of potentially high-volume service calls as technology and wearables are high on many people’s gift wish lists. It’s important to help prepare your staff for a deluge of calls rather than having them be surprised by the onslaught of customer requests. Forecasting expectations and offering special training will help your customer support agents understand what the workflow should be during the holidays. Enabling crowdsourced service options can also be one way your company prepares, since members of the crowd will be experts or small businesses that can help assist you in your customer service efforts during the holidays.
Use Crowdsourced Support Options
Your business can utilize crowdsourced support to prevent customers from needing to spend an hour on the phone with a customer service rep like my mother did. If the rep had been able to offer her the option of scheduling an appointment with an available Friend or member of the crowd who could help set up her new laptop quickly at a time she’d prefer, she wouldn’t have had to spend all that time on the phone attempting to do it herself and we all could have gotten back to celebrating the holidays sooner.