How Can You Be Ready for the 2023 Holiday Season?
We are entering Q4. Where did the year go? This period from October to the end of the year is fascinating for many industries as the Holidays are a catalyst for the busiest time of the year.
What does this mean for your customer service team?
Stress? Too much work? It doesn’t have to be like this. Plan a strategy to create more flexible customer support during this period. Enjoying the extra holiday business without a customer service crisis should be possible.
Creating a Resilient Customer Support Strategy
Forbes published a list of advice on this subject, but it seems their experts live in a different world than the rest of us. Their advice on handling the holiday season is to ‘focus on warmth’ or ‘show interest in the customer.’ Our team would argue that all this is table stakes- we are in the business of creating customer satisfaction. Of course, we want the customer to feel great!
The real question is how to go beyond the ordinary during a peak period.
If you want to get ready for the holidays, you should be looking back at what happened last year – and you may need to go back several years to get past the unusual consumer behavior during the Covid pandemic.
These steps will help you prepare:
1. Review past customer service volumes: what is your regular volume of customer interactions, and how far will it spike during the holidays? What did it look like last year and beyond? What can you predict for this year?
2. Review past mistakes: if it all went wrong last year, then why? What were the triggers? Can you determine what happened and what caused the problem? If so, build this into your year’s planning to avoid a repeat.
3. Build capacity now: if you have several customer service teams operating across different accounts, cross-train your people. Make sure they can switch from a quiet account to supporting a busy retail account. Build a bench you can draw on if needed.
4. Go digital: explore self-service options and digital channels that can allow you to engage with customers with minimal extra effort from your customer service team – what can the customer do before they need to call?
5. Boost the team: whether you need to hire temporary team members or get people on board who will be staying into the new year, start hiring as soon as possible so you have time to bring them up to speed before events such as Black Friday.
Even as you get busy during the holiday season, there always need to be minimum service standards. You must always help your customers if they need help. You must be there when you are expected to be available – even if this means 24/7 for some companies.
It may feel that October is already too late to create any change, but you have at least a month before a crisis might develop. What can you do now to mitigate the risk of a significant customer service problem in the near future?