Preparing your contact center for the Christmas period

Preparing your contact center team for the holiday season – Medallia talks about it
– Black Friday has been and gone. It’ll be off to the races as customers flock to your business with cash ready to spend throughout the holiday season, but with this total consumer spending blitz also comes the inevitable: customers in anger.

Everything you’ve done so far this year has prepared the customer service team for what’s on the horizon. You’ve already filled out a to-do list to improve efficiency, but it’s only in the face of a surge of angry customers that your brand has make-or-break situations that the frontline team needs to effectively handle in the moment. .

Angry customers don’t just cause higher call volumes. Additionally, you should worry that bad brand experiences will drive them away from your business and into the competition. That’s why service interactions between your agents and customers are so important during the holiday season. Revenue, which any business needs to survive, is at stake.

Compared to last year, estimates suggest that holiday shopping in 2021 will increase by at least 7%. Ready to grab your slice of this ever-growing sales pie?

If you don’t know what to do now that the holidays have officially arrived, worry no more. You always have the opportunity to make late improvements to your customer service team to make a difference and improve revenue.

Here’s what to do to prepare your customer service team for the influx of customers they’ll face and ultimately deliver holiday cheer with customer experience (CX) as a top priority.

5 things agents and team leaders need to do this holiday season

To be successful, your entire customer service team – from team leaders to agents – must understand the critical role they play. Rather than viewing service interactions as a line of defense against disgruntled customer demands, they should be seen as opportunities for customer retention.

“Brand heroes” who feel empowered with the knowledge and motivation to solve problems on the spot are game changers. Without them, you seriously risk losing unhappy customers forever. Don’t let angry customers walk away – approach them with empathy and dedication in every service interaction by being prepared.

Especially since emotions run high during the holiday season, boosting customer satisfaction (CSAT) is essential.

#1. Know what types of inquiries to expect

Just as they need a good understanding of products, policies, promotions, and technology, your customer service team agents also need to be prepared for the different types of requests they’ll likely face on a regular basis from Black Friday through ‘at the end of the year. .

If the question or issue is familiar, it can be easily resolved and allow an agent to move on to other inquiries while ensuring more customers feel satisfied in less time. Customers get the information and answers they need, and your business benefits from happy customers while maintaining efficiency.

Communication with other teams is also essential during the busy holiday season. Be sure to receive updates from marketing, operations, website development, and other internal teams so your agents aren’t caught off guard. Plus, take real-time customer feedback collected by your customer service team and share it with those teams as well.

What your customers say, for example, could lead to an easier checkout process that has proven to be unreliable and therefore frustrating to customers. But the web development team would only know that based on the feedback shared by the customer service team.

When every team in your organization comes together to exchange information, it allows everyone to achieve a higher level of efficiency that both the business and customers can benefit from.

#2. Lower the temperature

Anger can turn to outrage when customers are subjected to condescending, scripted, or tone-deaf responses. Instead, agents should do what any good brand rep would do: listen carefully to the customer, ask questions to better understand the problem, and focus on finding a resolution that meets their expectations.

It’s important for agents to own the conversation from the start and steer the service interaction in the right direction by treating the customer’s problem as a common enemy, using only positive language, and suggesting a solution that suits the customer. better to the customer and the brand.

Make soft skills a high priority in your onboarding and refresher training. Step into the mind of an angry customer shopping during the holiday season. Incorporate a quality assurance scorecard, along with numerous simulated service interactions, into your call center training program to build agent confidence. Consider sharing stories of comically bad service interactions at other companies to not only lighten the mood, but to get agents thinking and talking about how those requests should have been handled.

#3. Be transparent and express your authenticity

Angry customers during the holiday season and beyond want honesty, even if the immediate answer is “I don’t know.” Customers would rather wait a few minutes for complete and up-to-date information than be misled or rushed through. If agents need to research a problem or a solution, they should not hesitate to ask the customer to take a moment to do so.

Give agents easy access to the people and resources they need to research customer histories as well as products, policies, and promotions. Worry less about average handle time and focus on first call resolution (FCR) as this metric is connected to almost every other KPI.

#4. Make policy exceptions where appropriate

When hearing about VIP-level customers or those who have had a particularly bad experience, agents should not be quick to dismiss requests that go against the customer service team’s policy. Your brand stands to lose big in reputation and revenue if you treat these customers like everyone else, especially during the holiday season.

Make sure agents know they are free to make exceptions in certain cases, taking into account a customer’s history with the brand or the exact nature of the complaint.

Ensure consistency across the frontline team — and minimize escalations — by clearly explaining when exceptions to policy can be granted, what resolutions might look like, and process officers should follow. This will prevent disgruntled customers from feeling like your brand has done very little to help them, gain their trust, and retain them.

#5. Don’t let negative energy from angry customers set in

The stress of an emotionally charged interaction has an emotional impact on your customer service team. After all, the holiday season is meant to be a time of joy. When officers don’t have the time, space and support they need to recover, morale suffers. And the resulting impact on service performance and results can be significant and lasting even after the holidays are over.

Allow officers to take breaks and regroup after grueling encounters. Offer support and encouragement to sustain their mental health and help agents better prepare for these types of calls in the future through one-on-one sessions as well as micro-coaching.

To help agents bounce back fully and continue to perform well, give praise for great customer feedback as soon as possible and throughout the day. And be sure to reward and recognize some of your agents’ outstanding service interactions with the entire team and across the organization.

An Empowered Customer Service Team Is Turning The Worst Interactions Into Winning Brands This Holiday Season

Effective and resilient customer service teams are well trained and supported. Agents have the skills, tools and confidence to handle anything that may come their way during the holiday season. And they willingly take ownership of brand experiences with encouragement from team leaders who understand how important the frontline team is to CX.

Angry customers expect agents to be, at the very least, committed to resolving the issue at hand and competent enough to do so in a timely manner. In times like these, even fiery anger can turn into lifelong brand loyalty that lasts well beyond November and December. Unleash your brand heroes by fully empowering them, and they’ll be ready to ride out the holiday rush.

Medallia is the pioneer and market leader in experience management.

Medallia’s award-winning SaaS platform, Medallia Experience Cloud, leads the market in understanding and managing the experience for customers, employees and citizens.

Using Medallia Experience Cloud, customers can reduce churn, turn detractors into promoters and buyers, create in-the-moment cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, and make revenue-impacting business decisions, delivering clear and powerful returns on investment.

Whether you’re looking to empower agents or operations teams, Medallia can help you create better experiences for your teams and customers.

For more information about Medallia, see their company profile