The much-awaited holiday season is just around the corner. These joyful days of the year are all about giving gifts, meeting family members, partying and enjoying the festive traditions. Moreover, they signify a golden period of bumper sales for the businesses too. No wonder everyone is super-excited for the holidays!
But besides all the exhilaration, this festive period brings along a lot of stress too. The end consumers find it difficult to choose the perfect gifts for their loved ones. While for the businesses, the sudden surge of customers can be overwhelming, especially when they are under prepared to handle the rush.
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Importance of planning before seasonal rush
The customer queries increase exponentially in number while their service level expectations remain the same. In fact, the customers may expect even a faster and better service level for their holiday purchases.
As a business, this is a chance for you to make or break your customer relationships. You can either take it as an opportunity to impress your clients with a mind-blowing customer experience or you can lose some of the regular customers as well, besides not getting new ones.
Hence, planning ahead at least a quarter before the seasonal rush should be given priority. Here are a few promising ways to handle customer queries during the seasonal rush.
Ways to handle customer queries
1. Analyze Trends And Forecast Demand
The first and most important step is to revisit past year’s data and study the pattern. You need to know the percentage increase in your visitors during the seasonal rush as compared to normal days. Then, get in touch with your sales and marketing experts to forecast the numbers for this year. Once you know the number of expected visitors, you are already in a much better position since you will not be shooting in the dark now. Instead you will be taking objective and intelligent decisions based on quantitative data.
2. Schedule Your Calendars
Do you have enough staff available during the holidays to serve the forecasted number of clients? You should manage your staff’s leave applications beforehand and get a clear picture of their availability periods. Ensure that their leaves are balanced in such a way that your client service doesn’t get affected. Also, be prepared for some last minute changes too and take a safety factor into account with slightly more staff than you need.
3. Hire Seasonal Staff If Necessary
Make sure that you have enough staff to match the expected influx, taking the forecasted demand and your scheduled calendars into account. In case there is a shortage, one of the most common ways is to hire seasonal staff for handling the customer queries. This can be a tricky situation as temporary staff can pose difficult situations due to their lack of training, which is quite a challenge in such a short time period. Hence, you should anticipate the need at least 3 months prior to the holiday rush so that there is ample time for training. Ensure that they become experts in specific question areas like shipping or discount. Don’t make everyone a general expert; rather train them to divert incoming queries to appropriate expert as soon as possible.
4. Modify And Update Your Templates
Update the canned responses of your live chat for website software as per the holiday season. Apart from the basic things like greetings, you need to take care of the specific questions that might arise during the festive period. For example, people ask a lot about the shipping time as it generally gets stretched during the holidays. Change your usual responses as per the rush, and don’t promise what you can’t fulfill. Last but not the least, update the theme on your live chat support window on the website to go along with the holiday spirit.
5. Boost Your Staff’s Holiday Spirits
It’s a stressful time for your customer support staff with the increased rush. The feeling of not being with their family and friends during the holidays can cause an emotional turmoil within.. Help them get through it with some love and care. If your company has some holiday bonus policy, make sure you intimate them beforehand about what they’ll be getting. You can even put extra incentives for those working overtime on the holidays. Even simple incentives like free pizza during the overtime work well! Personalized holiday greeting cards work like a charm too.
6. Improve Self-Service For Customers
Apart from updating the scripts, templates and canned responses for email, phone and live chat for website, you need to make changes to your knowledge base for the seasonal rush. Ensure that customers have easy access to these special questions and answers for the seasonal surge. Customers like to have self-service and if they can self resolve their queries, it’s quite a gratifying experience for them.
7. Swiftly Clear All Pending Tickets
Make sure that all the previously pending tickets and emails from customers are attended to, forwarded to the right team or person and solved before the holiday season is about to start. You can’t expect your customer service to be great if your employees are already burdened with pre-holiday tickets.
8. Learn From Your Past
Go through your live chat transcripts, emails and call recordings of last holiday season. Try to include the most asked queries in the FAQ section or change your website’s flow itself. Analyze the weak areas that were not covered by your team which resulted in loss of sales. Think about how to make your system robust this year and better prepare your customer staff to handle such inquiries too.
What is your best tip on handling the seasonal rush? Share it with us below or Tweet us!