With the annual Christmas break only days away, no doubt Contact Centres in just about every industry are experiencing peak demand.
Armed with a “last minute to do list”, the nation goes into a flurry of gift and food shopping, accommodation and/or travel bookings, party organisation, insurance coverage checks, vehicle repairs, beauty treatments, health check-ups, pet arrangements, bill payments, home security checks, home and garden repairs, gift shipping and so on. Every year we promise we’ll be better organised next year, but for many of us, Christmas sneaks up again, and it we realise it just hasn’t happened.
Contact Centres who’ve used historical reports to track seasonal peaks and troughs for the past year or more will be armed for the pre-Christmas onslaught. The best prepared will have used a good workforce optimisation solution to forecast staffing requirements and to simplify roster management.
But what about afterwards?
In every industry, the need for help doesn’t die down just because the Christmas rush is over. Shutting down for a few days or weeks is not a viable option like it once was. People need to return purchases; or sort out issues with holidays, health, home, finance or security; and get help for the normal type of things they contact you about all year long.
Five ideas for delivering exceptional service after Christmas
Life doesn’t stop post-Christmas, and neither must customer support.
But of course your team need a break too, even if it’s only on the statutory holiday days for some. So how do you cater for the post-Christmas period?
The best strategies are:
- plan your post-Christmas support options in detail, including “worst case scenario contingency plans”
- have everything ready to implement at the click of a button
- set customer expectations in advance so there are no rude shocks
- get your team involved so that the support delivered is not considered a stop-gap measure, but a continuance of outstanding customer experience
1. Accurately match staffing to demand
Predict your post-Christmas staffing level requirements with confidence by reviewing your historical reports. If you have access to good quality detailed reports, you should be able to review your day by day staffing levels for the 2 weeks post-Christmas last year, and analyse these against actual inbound calls, emails and webchats on those days, to see if you were adequately staffed to meet demand.
2. Set up expectations in advance
Implementing a Christmas closure recording through your IVR system on Christmas Eve is not enough.
If you are going to be closed for any of the days, you need to be advising them now, so they can get the type of help they need now or book it in for post-Christmas if possible. The single biggest cause of frustration is lack of communication. People are far more understanding and accepting if you inform them in advance. Do this on your IVR, on your website and in email and chat messages.
Ensure every member of your contact centre team has the closure information and are advising callers who they believe may need support during the closure period.
This simple strategy is not only courteous and helpful, but demonstrates how much you value your customers.
3. Ramp up your self-service
- Upgrade your IVR process flow to provide self-service options for simple transactions that don’t require a live agent.
- Review your top 50 questions and ensure they are adequately answered on your website FAQs or knowledge base section.
- Implement a chatbot that can answer common questions, provide links to answers and automate part of the communication process, as our Mobility solution does for mobile phone users
4. Arm your holiday staff with the resources they need
If you have rostered staff to be available during the holiday period, anticipate their every need.
- Ensure your team members have a full view of each customer, including previous interactions via other channels. You will need a contact centre solution, like Premier Contact Point, that is integrated with your back office systems to ensure this happens efficiently.
- Review the types of support questions you received last holiday period, and make sure they have the information and resources they need to deliver first call resolution as often as they can. This may mean setting up departmental nominees to be “the issues contact” during the holiday period and asking them to be available to agents who need to ask for help or escalate important customer issues.
5. Aim to delight, not delay
Be prepared – because often “the best laid plans . . .” may come unstuck. You never know, something unforeseen may happen which causes a spike in support requirements, and subsequently sees your average call handling time blow out and cause delays.
We recommend that you plan for this up front, by offering a call-back service. It’s quick to implement, reduces call abandonment and prevents repeat calls. It also means your call centre can handle around 15% more calls, making peaks in demand far more manageable. And your customers will be delighted to be given this option, in lieu of having to wait in a queue.
Business as usual has exceptional benefits
Above all – involve your team early in the planning so that they understand the importance of continuing to deliver outstanding support to your customers, even during the holiday period. You want them to fully understand that they’re not providing a stop gap service until things return to normal. That’s not it at all.
You want them to take charge of post-Christmas support and maintain your standards of outstanding customer experience, as usual . And when you involve and empower your team like this, they will be engaged and motivated to do their best. This is their opportunity to shine whilst others are on leave.
Just think about how your customers are going to appreciate you, when they realise that you are committed to being helpful and supportive right through the holiday season, when other businesses close. It will be another marketing edge you have over your competitors. And another reason for your customers to remain loyal.