Customer Service Techniques to Lower Holiday Stress

“Go above and beyond. Be the company that treats their customers like family.” – infinitcontact.com

There are numerous holidays around the world and holiday season usually seems to put customers in a tizzy and become even more demanding and relentless in getting what they want. While most people celebrate festivals and holidays shopping and being with their families, the customer service teams in most companies must put in extra effort and longer hours to serve the unusually large volumes of service requests. In a job that is already high-stress, this additional holiday stress could take a toll unless the tasks are managed well. It is the responsibility of companies to put in place, customer service techniques to reduce stress not just for customers but for their service representatives as well.

We know that customers can be highly demanding and would remember negative experiences more than the pleasant ones and the last thing that a company needs is to let service standards slip during the holiday season. Well-designed, written, and structured customer service techniques would help the service representatives to provide top quality service to the customers despite the rush and a state of high customer emotions. Regardless of this frenzy, companies know that the holiday season accounts for a very large portion of their overall revenue during the year and they should do whatever they can to manage the stress well. Of course, the company would not be able to achieve any standards of service without ensuring that their customer service representatives have whatever they need – customer service techniques and updated technology being the top runners. Higher volumes of customers automatically translates to a larger number of interactions and without a properly formulated plan and customer service techniques, there could be more room for error and service lapses.

With the number of on-line shopping platforms having increased in a very short time, companies now face even more competition especially during the holidays. The deals, packages, free shipping, aggressive pricing and discounts, range of products and a plethora of other factors have ensured that customers do not shop from just one destination but would actively seek out the best and most lucrative deals. To counter these factors, the one thing that companies can do is provide consistently elevated levels of customer service through a variety of customer service techniques, to insure repeat business and brand advocacy.

Today’s customers have unreasonably high service expectations – even more so during the holiday rush. The last thing you want is to let the quality of your customer service slip during the most important time of the year. In order to shine amidst the clutter of promotions and maximize your holiday efforts, your support team needs to provide superior customer service. The reason for holidays being so stressful, is a combination of emotions from a variety of customer sections and reasons. Each one aims to enjoy the holidays to the fullest after long working hours, but in the bargain end up becoming even more stressed trying to have fun. A company can assist customers in the best manner possible, provide great experiences, and reduce customer stress by implementing a variety of customer service techniques, specially formulated for the holiday season.

What are some of the customer service techniques that your company has put in place to combat the holiday stress and manage high customer emotions during these periods? Just like with any business imperative, it is hugely important to prepare for unusual circumstances – in this case huge volumes of customer queries and resultant demands. As one of the top customer service techniques, it would be wise for a company to invest in tools, equipment, and training to enhance the knowledge of the service representatives such that they can manage the volumes and the high emotions of customers during the holiday season. There must be a robust and written down plan, which everyone must be completely aware of and know how to use in order to avoid potentially stressful situations.

Companies would be aware of the holiday seasons and therefore must plan – at least 3-4 months before these peak periods. This would be mean putting together customer service techniques – training for the personnel, hiring additional staff if required, changing / extending working hours, and setting even more stringent service standards for the holiday season. In order for the company to meet its targets, gain more customers, and serve customers with the highest standards such that even only holiday shoppers would come back with more business post the holiday season. By implementing customer service techniques, a company would be able to provide great customer experiences even during the holiday rush and stress, which in turn would set it apart from its competitors.

Another of the top customer service techniques is to run and test all the systems, procedures, equipment, and technology prior to the peak period. It is crucial to understand whether all these aspects would be able to withstand the pressure and if there are any flaws in any of them, they could be corrected prior to the holiday season. The idea is to ensure smooth and seamless service for the customers and the harassed holiday shoppers, in a bid to reduce their stress and effort. This would ensure that the customers remember you long after and be willing to recommend your company to others as well. Anyone running a business knows that customer positive word of mouth is the best and most potent form of promotion and advertising for a company and reducing holiday stress is the best time to gain it.

An important aspect of customer service techniques is that the human factor – the service representatives be completely prepared, well-versed, and knowledgeable enough to be able to provide first call resolutions as much as possible. The service representatives must know what they need to convey and how they need to do so, such that there is no ambiguity or room for confusion in whatever they communicate to the customers.

Every employee in the organization must be up to speed with the customer service techniques and be ready to step up in case the company requires more people to manage the holiday madness. This is so since we know that customer service should not be a department, but rather the responsibility of everyone in the company. Implementing the specially formulated customer service techniques for the holiday season, therefore would also be everyone’s onus as that would spread out and lighten the burden for the service representatives. The biggest mistake a company can make would be not having a backup and support for the customer service team. This strategy prepares the company for any unforeseen situations and crisis and ensures that it is well equipped to provide seamless service to its customers even during the holiday season.

In the list of customer service techniques, it would be beneficial for a company to look at its history for the holiday seasons to understand what it did well and what aspects were complete fiascos. With this analysis, the company would be better equipped to do away with the flaws and tighten its processes and strategies to prevent recurrence of the blunders. For example if data suggests that the number of service representatives fell way short than the actual required numbers, it would be wise to hire some temporary employees to help tide over the season. Once the holiday season passes, the company could absorb the better ones and let go of the others. The cost of hiring such temporary help is a lot cheaper than hiring permanent employees and does make sense since the additional headcount would only be required for the holiday season.

Managing and lowering the holiday stress might not be the easiest task for a company but through planning and robust customer service techniques, it would not be insurmountable either. Are you ready for the next holiday season?

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