For most of us, the Christmas break will be a time of relaxation, and meeting with friends and family.
Businesses will be giving their workers a well-earned break; meaning that customer service teams will be operating at reduced numbers.
Yet this doesn’t mean there will be no need for them. Consumers who have enough to worry about with cooking, cleaning, travelling and buying last-minute gifts need anything that goes wrong to be noted and dealt with as soon as possible.
Customer service teams that aren’t prepared for this could quickly find themselves overwhelmed, and the business’s reputation taking a major holiday hit.
So how can organisations ensure that these calls, when they come, are dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible?
Know your risk
The first task for any organisation is to know what events could cause customers to call; what are the likelihood of those events; how many customers could be affected; and what the consequences could be, so that it knows the exact risks at stake.
For instance, communications companies will receive complaints if families can’t connect with remote relatives, or expensive gifts such as games consoles or smartphones can’t get online.
Transport companies will receive them if Christmas travel plans are disrupted. And retailers can expect contact once everyone has received their gifts, and begun thinking about whether they can, or should, exchange them. However, for most an event could happen at any time, meaning not being ever-ready could result in a significant number of disgruntled customers.
The modern consumer doesn’t just rely on the phone. Complaints and issues could arise over almost any channel; from Facebook to Twitter to the call centre itself. In order to deal with this, the best approach to take is a single hub; where all customer communications and content are dealt with through a single, integrated team.
While specific social or telephone contact centres might be in separate locations, they are all working together as part of the same, omnichannel hub; meaning the organisation has a single overview over any potential customer issues and workers can support one another as needed to deal with issues.
For instance, if the hub is automatically monitoring social media as part of its day-to-day activity, it will be able to identify, respond to and ideally solve specific customer issues as and when they are mentioned, preventing them from escalating.
At the same time, other channels can also begin preparing; for instance, by placing a Q&A on the website, and giving telephone teams the information they need to field any calls from customers with the same issue.
Similarly, workers on the phones can feed back to the hub, so that solutions to common issues can be shared on social media – meaning that customers know the brand has any issues in hand.
By acting in concert, the hub allows a reduced team to do the work of many more across all channels.
Share the Christmas spirit
As mentioned, a central hub for customer communications doesn’t mean that all teams will be in the same location, or even in the same country.
Organisations with multiple locations should use this to their advantage. For instance, while some nations completely shut down from Christmas Eve onwards, others have their most important feast days at other times; such as January 6th in Spain.
If all of these regions can access the same hub, they won’t just have access to the same information and content, and be able to provide a consistent message to customers worldwide.
They will also be able to support one another; for instance, native-level English speakers in one location can support UK teams during periods when they will be short-staffed, and vice versa.
By making sure teams have the right information to help with customer issues in any region, no matter where they might be located, organisations can make their customer service team a lot bigger.
Many customer queries, while they might be urgent, are extremely simple; the customer will be happier with a fast, correct answer than anything else.
For instance, travellers will be most interested in any delays they will experience; the length of those delays; and what compensation they might be entitled to.
In these circumstances, online chatbots and website FAQs can provide answers to many customers’ concerns without the need to spend time in a helpline queue.
Not only does this resolve the customer’s pain faster, it also frees up workers to concentrate on customers who are either unable to access online resources, or who have more complex queries that demand human intervention.
If chatbots can also identify a customer’s previous history, and route them through the support process if their issues can’t be dealt with immediately, it will provide an even more pleasant customer experience, and help ensure that a one-off Christmas incident doesn’t result in lost business.
Welcome to the party
For the majority of organisations and consumers, Christmas will pass without incident: presents will be opened, dinner will be eaten, games will be played, and customer service workers will head home after an uneventful day.
However, it can only take one bad day to damage a business’s reputation. Organisations need to be prepared for the chance that not everything will go smoothly for their customers, or them, at Christmas.
By centralising customer experience in a single, omnichannel hub; sharing the workload across global teams; and automating processes where possible, organisations can ensure they’re ready to deal with any customer service issues, without needing a fully-staffed service desk at Christmas.
Sourced by Arnaud Chovau, brand and marketing at CCA International