How to manage online customer service during the holiday season?

Both online and offline retailers face challenges and opportunities during the busy holiday season.

The situation might be even more pronounced this year, when experts predict strong holiday sales: Holiday sales may rise 4-4.5 percent over last year, and online sales may increase by 14.9 to 21 percent. Customers are being able to pick up and return products they have purchased online by beefing up their in-store customer service staff.

In the holiday rush, you cannot afford to let customer service suffer due to the influx of customer communications. The news of poor customer service spreads more ears than applause for a good service experience, and 12 positive experiences can make up for one unresolved negative experience.

Fortunately, you can still ensure your customers have a stellar experience in the midst of the busy holiday season with a little preparation and consideration. Despite feeling like you’re drinking from a fire hose, we have our best advice for keeping your customers happy.

Assign ownership to your channels

You need to choose how and where you’ll contact your customers during the holidays, whether you have a physical store or an electronic one: Email? Online chat? What about phone support? Facebook?

Looking at where your current customers ask you the most questions will help you decide which channels to use. Not sure which channel to add? Start by figuring out what channels your customers are most likely to use, then determine which you are capable of supporting. Make sure to start setting up processes and experimenting with new tools before you are swamped by holiday traffic. Test out any major new channels (like chat support) during less demanding times of year before launching them during peak times.

Assign a dedicated owner to each channel once you’ve selected them. How will you ensure all emails get answered? What are the opening hours for chat? By owning a business, inefficiencies are reduced, service is consistent, and future improvements are easier to identify.  

Inform your customers of your location to make sure they will find you easily. You should provide multiple contact options on your website so that customers can easily reach you – regardless of the channels you support. This will help you avoid losing customers due to unnecessary confusion or friction.

Employ seasonal remote workers to reduce costs

There is nothing wrong with outsourcing. To handle the holiday volume, consider hiring online customer support staff. When you hire people in multiple time zones, a larger candidate pool gives you access to the best candidates.

As your sales slow down in the new year, you can scale your team size up or down as needed by outsourcing all or part of your support team. You won’t have to over hire or let people go. Companies like Spectrum help deal with fluctuating support loads. All you need to do is call or email them and your issue would be catered in no time. The best part is that their internet plans and offers are also quite appealing. Check spectrum internet ofertas to find more information.

In addition to answering questions, outsourcing customer support can improve your business. At the end of the day, what matters is that your clients are getting responsive, friendly, empathetic and effective service regardless of the individual who is assisting them.

Customer service = efficiency

During the holidays, empathizing can be emphasized more than ever. A good customer support representative knows that most grumpy customers have simply had a bad day. Customer interactions are no exception when it comes to holiday stress.

If you want to provide the best support during this time, show empathy, stay calm, and focus on solutions that are quick. When the holidays arrive, customer service shifts from warm fuzzies to action. 

Many of your customers are stressed because they are pressed for time, so focusing on fast action will appeal to them.

Motivate your team to succeed

A company’s support team is in the best position to help maximize its holiday sales and potentially attract new and devoted followers with the service they provide. If you plan ahead and place your efforts strategically, your team will have a less hectic holiday season and your customers will enjoy themselves more.

1. Set expectations for your customers

Make sure your business hours and response time are clear to your customers. Establishing expectations around the holidays is crucial to maintaining customer satisfaction – set expectations with an auto-reply to explain your office hours, shipping delivery dates, and so on.

2. Automate whenever possible

Human-to-human interactions are best enriched by automation, not replaced by it. Help your team become superhuman instead of replacing them with robots.

Implement a workflow in your help desk to track high-demand products that you know will sell out and require complicated shipping – for example, you can set up a workflow to track products that will sell out and require complicated shipping. For instance, you could tag conversations based on the products that a customer has ordered, in order to anticipate and prevent any potential problems.

3. Respond to customer emails based on their urgency

Set up an additional mailbox for less-urgent inquiries if you usually work from one mailbox but see an increase in volume during the holiday season.

4. Review data from last year

Update your knowledge base and saved replies with last year’s customer questions and pain points. The holiday season is also a good time to review any internal processes and rules affecting customer relations such as hours, shipping policies, and so on.

Conclusion

The first time you take action regarding customer service during the holidays, remember that it is okay not to get everything right away! The best thing to do is to correct any mistakes you made next year rather than troubleshooting during your busiest season. Your customers will feel valued if you show them you are listening to them, and you will follow through on your promises the next time.

That is all for this post. We hope you found it helpful. Let us know if you have questions in the comments section below.

Huynh Nguyen

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