Holiday season can turn to be a peak performing season of the company and can result in the great profitability for the company, if planned properly. Otherwise, it becomes a nightmare for the company. With the holiday season, number of customers increases. To manage the large number of public at a time, it is necessary for the company to be able to handle rush, pressure and stress in an effective manner. This requires proper planning and execution of plans without fail. Also, there should be flexibility to provide for last minute changes or emergency.
The preparation for holiday season should be done in advance to ensure hassle free operations.
What can be done to ensure that customer support team is better prepared for the holiday season? Answer is simple – identify, analyze and plan to be better equipped to meet the requirements of holiday season. Following steps can be taken:-
- Check last years’ data: It is always good to make use of the available data for benefits of the company. Gather and analyze previous years’ data for holiday season to estimate the traffic in coming holiday season. Though the number will change as per the trend (can be upward/downward – found through trend analysis), it will give and idea about the approximate number of customers. This will help in planning resources.
- Prepare the schedule and try sticking to it: Once company has the idea of approximate traffic, plans should be prepared as how the services will be provided without any issues. All the resources should be acquired and allocated accordingly to meet the requirement of the time. This plan should be strictly executed in order to provide better customer experience.
- Work in alignment with other teams and help if needed: Co-ordinate with other teams and find out whether they are ready for the season. For ex – manufacturing – required number of products should be available as per data analysis; sales representative should be ready to handle footfall, etc. Help them if needed.
- Inform customers in advance: Inform the customers about how operations will be undertaken during holiday season beforehand (like return policy, refund policy, discounts, and site maintenance) so as to avoid customer issues.
- Design workflow, assign responsibility with required authority: Prepare the flow chart as how work will be undertaken, whom to be contacted in case of urgency, assign roles to individuals and give them some authority to enable them work in smooth manner. It should not happen that customer support members just keep addressing customers with rulebook in hand. There might be some cases where rules are required to be bent (without negatively impacting company policy).
- Timely update the content for any change: It should be ensured that content should be updated on real time basis. For example – if a product gets out of stock, it should be immediately updated. It should not happen that order has been placed by the customer and afterwards he is being informed about non-availability of the product. This leads to negative customer experience and shows the inefficiency of the company to deal with the situation. Also, CX team should be aware about data on real time basis so as to address queries effectively.
- Train members of customer support team: Provide necessary training to CX team members with the help of real life cases occurred in past. They should know how to handle pressure as well as stress generated from high pressure during holiday season. They should know how to remain calm. Train them to use a good open source ticketing system
- Treat the customer support team in a friendly manner as they will be amongst the ones who will be facing extra pressure and stress.
- Make arrangements for continuous availability of staff in customer support to meet the increased traffic: If the numbers of customer support team members are insufficient to meet the requirements even after necessary arrangements in shift, make temporary arrangements from other team, etc.
- Keep the backup ready: In case of emergency like medical emergency, unplanned leave of an employee, backup staff should be available. Also, in case of shortage of product, some arrangement should be made like try contacting different seller (in case of multiple sellers).
- Learn from the mistakes of others and make necessary arrangements: Study past cases where holiday season became total nightmare for the company, or could not prove to be success. Analyze it from different perspective and find the solution to overcome. Conduct employee meeting and inform them about the same.
- Ensure that the site works well; ready to handle heavy traffic so that site performance does not affected: This is relevant especially in case of e-commerce companies. It has been seen many times that site break down in case of huge traffic which leads to customer dissatisfaction. In such cases, at least members of CX team should have access to necessary data and should enable to help customers.
Compensate people working during holiday season so as to motivate them to work in an excellent manner. This will ensure no service flaws thereby helping customer support team. This is because in most of the cases customer support team is being contacted when customer faces any service issues. With the increase in traffic of customers, pressure on support team members will also increase.