Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar establishment or a completely online business, the holiday rush is here. According to LiveChat, you’ll have up to 80% more contacts to handle during the holiday season than you do during the rest of the year. That’s an exciting opportunity! You’ll also be dealing with stressed, agitated and frustrated customers on a more regular basis. The truth is that very few people go out of their way to make things difficult for you; most frustrated customers just want help and feel lost, overwhelmed or misunderstood. Let’s review some year-round important customer service skills to keep lines short, customers happy and you smiling.
Look at Last Year’s Trends
What were your weak points last year? Did you receive compliments on certain aspects of your service? Complaints? Suggestions? Reviewing your feedback and data from last year can give you insight on your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to improve on both. Customers remember their experiences, and most definitely their complaints. If they feel ignored, they’ll make sure that they—and maybe even their friends and family—remember that.
Build Your Team
Nothing frustrates customers more than waiting on help or in unnecessarily long lines, and nothing stresses you out more than frustrated customers. Having a well-trained and well-staffed team cuts down on customer wait times and newbie mistakes.
Hiring seasonal employees in late Summer (September) or early Autumn (October) gives them enough time to learn your processes and you enough time to determine whether or not they’re a good fit for your place of business. Customers won’t know or care if these are temporary employees—a bad experience is a bad experience. And the last thing you want is to be forced to make a quick hiring decision while you’re in the weeds of holiday business.
Social Media Makes an Impact
In such a diverse and active marketplace, it can difficult to distinguish yourself in the sea of other retailers. That’s why your online presence—whether you’re 100% online or a traditional establishment—is critical to your performance and customer service. If customers are looking for you online and can’t find you, that’s a negative for them.
According to Sprout Social, nearly 49% of Gen Xer’s and Millennials follow and interact with outlets and brands on social media before ever buying a product from them. While that number is far lower for Baby Boomers (not even 25%), early predictions show that Gen Z will follow in the footsteps of their parents and be heavily involved online. Your social media presence—or lack thereof—could make or break the interest in your brand. In fact, Sprout Social reports that up to 71% of customers are more likely to buy after a positive social media experience.
Positive, Open Communication
Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Words like “can’t” or “won’t” have a surprisingly massive impact on how customers perceive you and your service. A simple “we can’t do that” can change moods radically.
Rephrasing negative outcomes with positive words and offering alternative options show your customers that you’re sensitive to their plight and genuinely want to help them. After all, you really do want to help them! And this ties in neatly with the above point: the more channels your customers have to contact you through (social media, email, in-store surveys, phone lines, etc.) the more likely they are to reach out to you. If there’s only one way to contact you that’s backed up with dozens of other queries, customers will think twice before trying to contact you.
In all the madness that surrounds the holiday rush, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. Making sure you keep your perspective grounded in reality will help keep you sane in the more difficult moments. Make sure you’re sleeping like you should be and don’t forget to eat! If you have a team to help you, make sure you’re delegating the workload appropriately. It can be tempting to want to do everything yourself (if you want something done right, right?), but you hired your employees for a reason. Put them to work!
Holly & Jolly Throughout the Holidays
A well trained, communicative operation with helpful and knowledgeable team members goes a long way in making sure you survive the holiday rush. And to make sure you’re stocked up on all the latest and greatest year-round gifts, visit petra.com!