7 Customer Service Tips for Optimizing Your Contact Center this Holiday Season
by Shaundalee Carvalho | Published On December 2, 2021
The end-of-year holiday season is often one of the most joyous seasons for celebrating with family and friends. However, it is also one of the busiest and most important seasons of the year for customer service. High volumes of holiday purchases naturally lead to high volumes of inquiries related to availability of products, return and exchange policies, terms of sales, and more. That’s why it’s especially important to make sure your contact center is prepared for the holidays. Read on to learn 7 tips for getting your contact center prepared for the season!
- Review last year’s reports to set expectations – One of the best predictors of holiday trends is data from previous years’ holiday seasons. Analyzing last year’s data can help you make informed business decisions for this year regarding staffing, service hours, training, and more. Fortunately, contact center reporting tools provide hundreds of customizable reports so you can find exactly what you need to know.
- Prepare for expected call volumes – After setting expectations based on previous data, the next step is to address those changes. Expecting overall increases in call volumes? There are a few different ways to handle this, depending on the magnitude of expected increases. Significant increases may require extending hours or hiring temporary staff. Smaller volume increases may be handled by managing customer expectations through adding expected wait time to queues.
- Provide training refreshers – It’s never a bad idea to provide a training refresher, but extra training can be especially helpful right before a seasonal increase. Remind your agents how to handle those uncommon questions that don’t come up very often; inform them of answers to season-specific questions; and provide suggestions for appropriate holiday greetings to use in their interactions. Additionally, training can allow for more flexibility in queue assignments. If you’re expecting a significant increase in calls about a certain product or line of business during the holidays, consider providing training specific to those topics so that more agents can be assigned to the affected queues.
- Update your FAQs – One way to handle an increase in inquiries is to help customers help themselves. By updating the Frequently Asked Questions that are on your website and available to your chatbot (if you have one), you can reduce the number of inquiries that require human assistance. Be sure to include relevant holiday-specific topics, such as holiday hours and exchange policies regarding gift receipts.
- Set your holiday hours for next year – Setting your contact center’s holiday hours for the whole year helps to prevent inquiries from being missed and ensure that your contact center is open and closed when it’s supposed to be. The end-of-year holiday season is the perfect time to set your hours for the following year - New Year’s Day will be here before you know it and you’ll want to make sure any inquiries that day are handled the way they should be!
- Show your customer service representatives that you appreciate them – Working in customer service can be stressful at times, especially during the busy holiday season. Be sure to find a special way to show your employees how much you appreciate all the great work they’re doing. It will not only be good for them but will be good for the organization as well! Beyond simply reducing agent churn, Oxford University research has shown that happy employees are 13% more productive.
- Start planning for next year – It’s never too early to start thinking about the future! As your team faces the busy holiday season, watch for common issues that can be addressed and areas that your service might be improved in the new year. Maybe agents are finding it time-consuming to look up purchase histories or keep accidentally misdialing customer phone numbers – 2022 may be a great time to implement screen pop and click-to-call capabilities with a CRM integration. Maybe too much time is being wasted answering the same questions over and over. If so, consider, adding a chatbot in the new year. The holiday season may feel overwhelming, but it’s important to pay attention during this time so that you have an idea of what to work toward when you get back to a more regular pace in the new year.
The holiday season can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. By planning ahead, you can help make the season run more smoothly for yourself, your agents, and your customers. For more customer service tips, check out these 3 tools you can add to your contact center to improve efficiency and drive customer engagement.
Best wishes for a happy and successful holiday season!