While many businesses slow down during the holiday season as clients and employees take time away from the office, others—in particular call centers and customer service departments—become increasingly busy, experiencing large quantities of returns and product inquiries related to holiday purchases. And with rising call volumes and customer expectations, customer service managers must ensure their business processes and employees are capable of handling the holiday rush.
A few tips to help customer service teams prepare for the holidays:
Analyze past holiday trends: The first step towards preparing for the holiday rush is to understand your call center’s particular needs—which requires insight into past holiday trends. Managers should analyze previous years’ call volume, hold time, average time spent in queue, CSAT, first call resolution scores, and more, while taking into account business growth and product changes, to understand how to adjust for increased holiday demands.
Be flexible: Contact centers should remain flexible during the holiday season, both operationally and technologically. Many employees enjoy spending time at home during the holidays despite the fact that they are still required to work, and businesses often need to employ seasonal hires. But to support such changes, they will need an extremely flexible and location agnostic contact center solution—something only the cloud can truly provide.
Plan ahead: While the customer support department might be in full swing during the holiday season, other departments might not be—and this will require contact center/customer service managers to plan ahead and ensure their reps have access to the information and resources they need to handle customer needs. Supervisors should also ensure reps are properly trained, and empower them to make decisions on their own to handle growing holiday demands.
Promote/Improve alternative channels: While urgent and/or complicated needs will usually require the assistance of a live representative, others may simply require customers to read the company FAQ page, submit a ticket, or chat an online agent. But these channels are not necessarily always easy to find, or aren’t always promoted to customers. Before the holiday rush, make sure alternative channels are promoted and easy to find—helping reduce call volume and unnecessary requests.
Expect the unexpected: Even the best planning cannot always prepare a customer service department for holiday demands—call volume is greater, requests are larger, and resources are tight. But with proper planning, businesses can mitigate the risk of problems and unhappy customers. With call back options, updates on position in queue, and greater transparency, ensure your business is adequately meeting customer expectations this holiday season.