The season to be jolly is here! People are starting to hustle and bustle about getting things out of the way so they can enjoy their holidays.
You probably know some of them. It may be your tax compliance attorney putting in long hours now, so he can enjoy a long vacation with his family. Perhaps it’s your best friend who’s getting her Christmas shopping done to avoid the crowds. Or maybe it’s you getting as much work done now to free your holidays up for your family.
Regardless, a lot of folks are already preparing for the holidays. But most of the time, instead of making things lighter and less stressful, the holidays create a mad rush that makes it very frustrating. And the frustration spills over to most of our interactions.
That being said, the season to be jolly produces grinches that can be a handful to deal with. Is your team ready for them?
8 Ways to Handle Customer Service More Efficiently during the Holiday Rush
Revisit the past year’s trend
One of the first things you should do is to revisit how things went for you the previous year. Review the trends and see how you can adjust this year.
What was the volume like in the December-January period? Did you get a significant increase in volume or did the volume drop down to zero?
Also, check which one of your channels got the most customer contacts and focus on those.
Address all holiday schedule concerns now
As you address your customers’ concerns, don’t forget that your staff also deserves to get some holiday time off. Once you already have a projected volume, figure out a way that you can accommodate the volume and at the same time give your people time to schedule their holiday plans with their families.
Taking this step makes sure that you have enough manpower to cover all bases without compromising your team’s family time.
with everyone else
If you belong to a small company, make sure that you communicate your plans and schedules accordingly with everyone. This helps prevent lapses at work, especially when it comes to attendance.
If you’re in a bigger company, make sure that your plans are in sync with all the other departments to ensure that things still run like a well-oiled machine during the holiday rush.
Manage and set customer expectations
So let’s say that you’ve already hatched a plan and everything’s set, the next thing you should do is to manage your customers’ expectations.
If there are any changes in your schedule or your policies, get the word out. Use your website, social media accounts, and other channels to communicate the changes to your clients. This way, they know how to work around the changes and when to get in touch with you.
Keep this in mind, when it comes to setting expectations, it is still best to underpromise and overdeliver. This way, if you say that you’re only open on weekdays but respond to them on a weekend, you’re a hero.
Don’t forget to take care of your team
During the holiday rush, you and your team will deal with an unusually higher volume some of which involve irate and high-maintenance customers.
Show your people some appreciation by going the extra mile and doing something really nice for them. You can take them out to dinner, treat them to a massage, give them personalized cards or gifts, or take care of their coffee needs for a day. When your people feel that you value them, they reciprocate by working even harder.
Make sure all your content are updated and relevant
When it comes to your content, make sure to update them to go with the season. Temporarily deactivate any generic marketing emails because nobody wants to get them, much less read them, during the Christmas season.
Check your canned responders and automated content marketing and update them for the holidays. Include holiday greetings and other important details such as the seasonal changes in your policies.
Revisit customer service protocols, especially those related to dealing with stressed customers
Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year but it can also be stressful to a lot of people, your customers included.
Before the season even comes in, prepare for it by having a refresher on how to give proper customer service, the use of positive language, de-escalating stressful situations, and empathizing with your customers.
No matter how long you’ve been doing something, it’s always a good thing to go back to the basics now and then.
Put contingency plans in place
When all is said and done, you already have your key people in place, your systems are ready to go, you’ve communicated with those you need to communicate with, and you’ve revisited the basics, you still need to do one more thing: have a back-up plan.
This doesn’t mean that you’re expecting things to fail. It’s just a fail-safe in case something wrong happens, you won’t be at a loss. Contingency plans anticipate everything that could go wrong and provide solutions for them in the event that they do happen. At least, when things go south, your people know what to do and who to call.
No matter how stressful the holiday rush is, know that you can do something about it to make it less stressful for your customers and especially your team.