It’s official; the holidays are upon us. With Black Friday shopping already in full swing and people already running around town trying to figure out their holiday gift plans, it’s time for your business to start working to ensure you are offering fantastic holiday customer service.
Not only will businesses be handling phone calls, texts, and messages asking questions about how products work and how soon they can be shipped, they will also be fielding a lot of after-holiday returns and shopping. That is a lot to handle, and it needs to be done correctly to retain a solid customer base. Here are 6 tips you can follow to improve customer service during the holidays right now.
1. Get Artificial Intelligence set up
Artificial intelligence allows businesses to set up a 24/7 chat infrastructure with customers where they can text in the questions they have or even chat through social media platforms if they prefer. This allows customers to get their questions answered immediately no matter when they need questions answered. It also makes it easier for businesses to give superb customer service without having to hire on too many extra employees over the holidays. Automated messaging also helps avoid too many customer service interactions where agents are asked mundane and repetitive questions that can easily be identified and answered by a chatbot. An artificial intelligence company can work with you today to get everything ready for the holiday season.
2. Constructive feedback to employees
Let’s face it; customer service is a lot of answering questions that need special attention due to the circumstances of the individual customer. Training employees properly is important, but it is also just as important to make sure you are giving them constructive feedback. Employees will never improve if they don’t know they are doing anything wrong, but they also won’t improve if they feel discouraged by what is being said. It is common for companies to simply threaten customer service agents with their jobs if their ratings don’t improve without actually showing them how they need to improve. An employee who is told their strengths and how to overcome their weaknesses is going to be more satisfied with the position and more willing to work harder to improve how they communicate with customers.
3. Smile on the phone call
People are good at mirroring one another. It’s why approaching someone with aggression often leads to a fight while approaching someone with a smile often leads to them smiling as well. That means your customer service agents need to approach customers with the same attitude they hope to get on the other end of the call. The best advice given to me on my first day in a receptionist position was to smile when I answered the phone. It is the same advice I repeat to anyone and everyone taking phone calls because I quickly found that I was able to easily manipulate the conversation by simply having a good attitude and letting my smile shine through in my voice. It is a skill that can be hard to do when answering phones all day, but it will make for more successful interactions with customers.
4. Recognize some customers don’t want you to fix the problem
It doesn’t really make sense. Most people assume that a customer who takes the time out of their day to call or chat with a customer service representative has some sort of problem they need fixed and that their is a solution. However, there is the occasional customer who doesn’t want a fix. They just want to gripe, and they want the most important person in the company to know they are angry about it. Teach your customer service representatives that you can’t win them all, and it isn’t a loss if you transfer them to a manager. Of course, representatives need to do everything they can to solve the problem on their own, but sometimes, there is no solution. They shouldn’t feel bad that some customers simply can’t be won over, especially during the holidays when emotions are high.
5. Power to customer service
One thing most businesses do wrong with their customer service is that they don’t let the representatives have any real ability to do anything. It is not only frustrating for customers who don’t want to spend their whole holiday break being transferred from person to person, but it also makes it very difficult for the customer service agents. How are they ever supposed to feel successful in their jobs or as if they are valuable to the company if they don’t even have the chance to succeed?
6. Offer callbacks
In those times where customers need to speak on the phone instead of with a chatbot because of their specific situation, they really hate sitting on hold for an hour waiting. And let’s be honest: during the holiday season, the wait times for speaking with live agents is pretty long. There is a risk they might accidentally end the call before the hold is over or that they might end up getting lost during a transfer. Nobody wants to spend their day off on the phone. This is why callbacks are so valuable for customers. You can allow them to scheduled a specific time for a callback that works best for them or just say you’ll call them as soon as a representative is available. It means avoiding customers who are already annoyed before the call even got started and gives the customer service agent a higher chance at success.
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