We’re back with more holiday prep tips for ecommerce retailers! Today, we’ll tackle one of the most critical pieces of a direct-to-consumer business’ operations, regardless of season: customer care. Just one minor slip-up in customer service during the emotionally-charged holidays can be detrimental to your brand’s image.. but a rock star moment can create a customer for life! So let’s examine 5 ways to get your agents in tip-top shape.
1. Make your brand more available than ever
Whether your customer care accepts phone orders or simply provides service, a peak in orders will mean a peak in call (and email, chat, etc.) volume. One way to avoid extended on-hold times and accommodate this spike is by extending your center’s availability. Whether that means adding an extra hour or two at the beginning or end of each regularly-scheduled day, staying open 24/7, or adding another day to the mix (Saturdays are great for this!), work with your teams to decide what’s best for your business. If you just can’t justify it internally, consider working with an outsourced call center provider to handle your overflow or after-hours support.
2. Make holiday cheer a natural thing
Most brands are playing it safe with political correctness these days, especially when it comes to holiday greetings. Believe it or not, this rubs many customers (and employees) the wrong way. If you’re comfortable, make it a policy to let agents use their own holiday beliefs in greetings with customers – and use customer data and info from the agents’ conversations to drive where it goes. For example: if 6 months ago Susie bought a picture frame and had “Happy Bar Mitzvah” engraved, it may be reasonable to assume that she celebrates Hanukkah.
3. Create more contact options
Since call volume will increase, consider other options for customer contact. If you don’t have live chat, this may be a great time to test the waters (there are even a few free or trial options out there!), or encourage your customers to email a designated address or tweet a specific ‘customer support’ account to get heard. If you have the bandwidth, allow customers on hold to use VoIP to schedule a callback time for someone to reach out to them, then assign your best agents to do outbound callbacks at specified times.
4. Get a headstart on hiring, training
Ramp up your hiring efforts early by running job postings or hosting a career fair before the ‘holiday hiring blitz’ begins – that way, you’ll get the best applicants available and you won’t have to do it when you’re worried about other things. Even if you won’t need them in the contact center for another month or more, bring them in to get acclimated with your company and your products. Have them test out your items, quiz them on company info, and get them talking in your brand voice now – more knowledge makes a more confident (and effective) agent!
5. Creep on your customers
A recent study found that most consumers will use brands’ social media channels for customer service issues. If you’re not monitoring your Facebook and Twitter feeds – at least during the holiday season, when it may be hard for customers to reach you via other methods – you’re setting yourself up for a bad customer experience that goes viral. There are tons of tools available that can help, plus entire ecommerce companies who base their business models around it. Dedicate an agent to handle these inquiries and set up a schedule to manually monitor your pages, too (make sure to sync it with your social team’s posting schedule!) and you’ll be ready to rock.
Want even more holiday planning tips? Check out our blog on holiday prep in the warehouse.