Guest blog by Katie Kregel & Lisa Finholm
The holidays mean many things for many people: quality time with family and friends, last minute shopping runs, an overindulgence in baked goods and time to reflect on the new year ahead. For businesses, it means accommodating customers during the peak time of the year.
As businesses gear up for the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s important for us to remember customers will be spending more, which means they’ll need more and expect better customer service than usual. So, how do you prepare your employees mentally for the mad dash of consumers and the high demand of impeccable service while giving them the tools they need to deliver for your customers?
CorvisaCloud recently enlisted Zogby Analytics to find out what consumers are saying about customer service around the holidays. The results are a reminder of how we choose to deliver on the best service this holiday season:
1. What do customers think before they even begin spending their money during the holidays?
At 39 percent, consumers admit great holiday deals may get them in the door, but keeping them as a year-round customer begins and ends with customer service. Unfortunately, 45 percent of customers say customer service is worse during the holiday season. That means, nearly half of customers go into the shopping season prepared to have a poor experience. This gives us every opportunity to change their minds, to ‘wow’ them with unexpected exceptional customer service. Every customer whose expectations are exceeded is an opportunity for a returning customer.
However, many businesses hire seasonal help around the holidays to meet that increased demand. These employees often undergo expedited training programs and minimal team member development. Helping your employees understand your goals as a company will help them understand the value they add in assisting a customer from the moment they pick up the phone, enter your building or make that online purchase to the end of their transaction.
Today’s customer is able to research your company from anywhere and with anyone through business review websites, social media channels, and even texting all their best friends asking, “Who’s shopped here? Did you like it?” It’s important your employees understand that one bad experience can suddenly be on a digital newsfeed for thousands of people to read and that one positive experience will have 3 in 10 people sharing your name with others and another 29 percent saying they’ll shop in your store more often.
2. The holiday rush doesn’t end at Christmas. The “period of returns and winter sales” after Christmas is equally as important for customer service.
With 25 percent of customers stating they’re most likely to speak to customer service after the holidays, it’s essential to communicate to employees that the service they provide on other side of the purchase – the return – is just as important. Which means, customers are coming back to your business ready for assistance because something wasn’t quite satisfactory the first time around or simply not what they had on their wish list. Not only that, but this is a perfect time for additional selling to build upon the initial purchase.
When a customer returns a gift, it’s important employees understand that they should not only make the return process easy but to consider it a chance to upsell or encourage an exchange. How? The ability to streamline and organize the holiday chaos with better software, faster registers, great phone systems and communication tools that allow for quick turnarounds. It’s also important to ensure that those tools are easy for seasonal staff to learn and use with minimal training. Customers who are stuck waiting to trade in their unwanted or unsatisfactory item will only get more irritated with long hold times or slow moving, unknowledgeable staff – causing your business to miss out on future business opportunities.
Do your employees have the tools and knowledge they need to succeed? It’s our job as business leaders to give our employees the tools they need to succeed and our customers the experience they want to come back during the holidays and year-round.
Katie Kregel & Lisa Finholm are with CorvisaCloud, which delivers contact center solutions that help businesses work smarter and make customers happier.