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How to navigate customer service during the holiday season

How to navigate customer service during the holiday season

Jan 23, 2023
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7 min read
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Hiver HQ
Ronia Reji
how-to-navigate-customer-service-during-the-holiday-season

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Table of contents

It’s that time of the year again. 2022 is gradually approaching its grand finale and the holiday season is here!

Of course, for most businesses this means that their customer service volumes are going to be at an all time high and support agents are going to be on their toes. Naturally, holiday customer service can prove to be quite a stressful time but with the right amount of planning and the right customer service tools in your arsenal, providing smooth, personalized, and proactive customer support can be a breeze.

Below, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to help you pave the way for delightful customer experiences this holiday season.

Getting ready for the uptick in customer service during the holidays

The holidays are notorious for driving up end-of-the-year sales.

Case in point, revenues from mobile commerce alone are expected to hit $115 billion during Christmas this year.

With customers readily willing to spend big bucks during the holidays, it is imperative for businesses to ensure that support teams are equipped to provide stellar customer service for a huge volume of customers.

A great way to prepare for this huge uptick is to evaluate trends and patterns from previous years. This allows you to closely track and understand how your team performed last year and how they can be better prepared to tackle the holiday rush this year.

Here are some key aspects to keep in mind while getting your teams ready to provide a stellar holiday customer experience.

Data, data, and more data!

The holiday season is that time of the year where most businesses, especially ecommerce make the bulk of their revenue. This is precisely why evaluating customer data and metrics is crucial. Doing this will give you an idea about customer behavior during the holiday season and help you to anticipate customer needs in advance.

Data also allows you to offer hyper personalized experiences to customers and more importantly, it helps you to get ready to handle the huge influx of user traffic that is expected during the holiday season. Aside from this, meticulous data collection aids in course correction and benchmarking and setting up precise workflows, all of which are important to set up your business for success during the next holiday shopping season.

Track call volumes from previous holiday seasons

The holiday season, without question, is one of the busiest times of the year for businesses. Call volumes shoot up and customers seem to be calling left and right with queries regarding shipping policies, refunds and return policies, product details, payments, complaints, and so much more.

how-to-navigate-customer-service-during-the-holiday-season

Your customer service teams are likely to be bombarded with calls and emails and it may be eating into their bandwidth, preventing them from providing prompt support.

Track your call volumes from the past and ensure that you have a robust support strategy in place to deal with the increasing number of support calls. Keep an eye on aspects such as average call duration, frequency of calls, response times, frequently asked questions, etc.

Based on these aspects, you can ensure that you are not understaffed during the most critical times and also implement tools such as self-service resources and customer support tools such as helpdesks. You can even look at implementing additional communication channels so that your support agents are not overwhelmed. Additionally you can also think about outsourcing your customer service if you anticipate large call volumes during the holidays.

Keep an eye on customer retention

The holidays are quite a busy time and it can reflect in your customer service. Poor customer service can result in customers deciding to leave your business. In fact, holiday ecommerce is expected to grow by 15.5% from last year.

Carefully allocating resources is key to ensuring that you provide great customer service at all times.

Aside from this, it is important to analyze data to understand customer segments that are most likely to churn and also to understand the gaps in your current customer service and any glaring customer issues. Identifying these factors will help you bridge the gaps, provide superior customer service during the holidays, and help in customer retention.

Empowering your support team to provide efficient holiday customer service

Providing seamless customer service during the holiday season can seem like quite a challenge. But with the right set of tools and an actionable strategy, you might just be able to keep your head above the water.

Below we discuss some of the most important ways to equip your support team to easily manage customer expectations and deliver prompt support during the holiday rush this year.

Enable support teams to deliver seamless email customer support

The holidays call for an increasing number of support requests both over call and especially over email. In fact, email is one of the most used channels for customer service with as many as 54% of customers preferring to use email for support.

However providing email customer support comes with several challenges. Two of the most daunting ones are – missing out on critical support emails and being unable to respond to email queries on time. Both of which results in poor customer service and highly dissatisfied customers.

This is precisely why you need to ensure that every incoming support email is accounted for and not a single email slips through the cracks. 

That’s exactly what Hiver helps you do. It allows you to seamlessly manage your emails and ensures that no email goes unanswered. 

With Hiver, you can stay on top of every incoming email and easily assign emails to designated support team members with a single click!

The best part?

Hiver allows you to track all your emails by assigning a resolution status to every email. Depending on the resolution status (Open, Pending, Closed),your team members can easily identify which emails require immediate attention and close open tickets faster.

This empowers support teams to effortlessly deliver prompt email customer support.

how-to-navigate-customer-service-during-the-holiday-season
Track emails effortlessly

Do away with mundane, repetitive tasks

With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, one thing you can be really sure about is that there is not going to be a dull moment atleast for the next few weeks.

For customer service teams, repetitive tasks such as email assignment and organization can eat up their bandwidth.

What if we told you that you can easily do away with such redundant tasks and help your team focus on more pressing issues?

With Hiver’s Automations you can easily automate email assignments and even manage your inbox clutter.

For instance, you can route certain emails to specific members in your team. Say emails containing the word ‘Payments’ in either the subject line or the body of the email can be assigned to someone in the Finance team.

Similarly, emails containing the word ‘Shipments’ can be assigned to someone in the Logistics team.

how-to-navigate-customer-service-during-the-holiday-season
Automatically organize emails with Tags

See how simple that is?

Apart from this you can define different ‘Tags’ to organize emails by type or priority. Your teams no longer have to grapple with trying to understand which emails are priority and which ones are not.

For instance, all emails from [email protected] can be tagged as ‘Urgent’. This way all your agents have to do is look at the tags and handle the emails accordingly, saving them time and effort.

Live chat can be a life savior

A great way to handle the influx of user traffic during the holiday season is to open up another channel such as live chat that can help you instantly connect with customers. This also reduces the burden on your call center, owing to better and more efficient customer service.

Hiver’s Live Chat feature can be accessed right from Gmail – a tool your team is already familiar with. With live chat, your agents can offer your customers real-time support and  while your customers enjoy a hassle-free way to get the support they need. 

how-to-navigate-customer-service-during-the-holiday-season
Manage customer queries seamlessly over Live Chat

Live Chat is also a great way to collect any and all necessary information regarding a customer’s query. The information can then be routed to the right agent and the issue can be closed in no time at all.

Apart from this, Hiver’s Live Chat also gives agents access to chat templates which have predefined responses for recurring support issues. Templates can help support agents respond faster to customer requests.

Empower customers to self-serve

40% of customers prefer self-service over human contact.

In several cases, customer queries tend to be ones that don’t need a support ticket to be resolved. When equipped with the right information, customers can resolve these issues by themselves. In such cases, enabling your customers to self-serve not only lowers the burden on your support agents but also increases customer satisfaction. This is because when customers are able to self-serve, their queries get resolved faster and they can find help any time they need without having to wait in line for an agent to step in.

A great way to enable self-service is to maintain a knowledge base or a repository of common questions and their answers that can be easily located by customers.

Hiver’s Knowledge Base feature allows you to easily maintain a centralized library of help articles, FAQs, guides, and more that are useful to customers.

It is quite easy to set up and can be tailored to your business needs. A search bar allows customers to easily find answers to their questions. And if at all your customer is not able to find the answer to a query, they can always raise a ticket from inside the knowledge base.

how-to-navigate-customer-service-during-the-holiday-season
Empower your customers to self-serve

Get ready to elevate your customer service this holiday season

It is crucial to note that customers have been predicted to spend a whopping $1.2 trillion globally during the holidays this year.

Clearly, your support teams are going to be facing some of the busiest weeks of the year and you need to ensure that they have everything they need to go the extra mile and make this holiday period a success!

It is important to plan ahead and have an actionable customer service strategy in place way before the rush kicks in. Ensure that you simplify things for support teams and allocate all the necessary resources for them to deliver quick, personalized, and effective customer service.

With that being said, we hope you ring in the holiday cheer with smiles and navigate the holidays with ease.

Happy Holidays and we hope you close the year with a bang!

An engineer by qualification and a marketer by profession, Ronia contributes to the marketing efforts at Hiver. She is an ardent fan of thrillers - be it books or movies. She loves to cook, travel, and spend all her free time with her dogs.

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