5 Ways to Avoid Seasonal Customer Service Problems

5 Ways to Avoid Seasonal Customer Service Problems

From long Easter weekends
to summer vacations, it's time
for customer service teams
to help seasonal employees
get up to speed fast.

brown egg in an eggcup with a smile

If you’re part of a customer service team, you know that peak seasons can be riddled with customer service problems. Increased call volumes, stressed out customers and too much overtime can take their toll on your agents’ light-hearted spring spirit. Yet, the entire job of your service center is to ensure that the customer experience is top-notch, so there’s no room for frustrated team members.

In fact, ClickSoftware.com found that U.S. businesses have lost up to $83 billion due to poor service. You certainly don’t want to become part of that group! That’s why it’s critical for your service agents to deliver highly-efficient, friendly service that establishes trust, letting customers move cheerfully along with their spring and summer festivities.

So, what can  be done to boost spirits, improve overall satisfaction and increase retention rates?

#1: Keep call volumes in check.

From product support to returns/exchanges, Easter, springtime and upcoming vacation season mean a spike in call volumes for a broad range of industries. Fortunately, many of these can be eliminated all together with self-service tools. Incorporating a knowledge base lets customers find what they need quickly without taking up precious agent time. For instance, if your return policy is clearly documented and accessible to customers, they won’t need to call and ask questions about this.

Also, making your offerings easily accessible via your website allows people to get the products and services they need far more simply: even if they need to work with an agent to complete the purchase, answering all of their pre-purchase questions beforehand speeds up the transaction.

#2: Remove barriers to customer contact.

Time-crunched customers get easily frustrated.  And, few things make them feel more frustrated than being forced to wait on hold for support. In fact, 32% of people believe that service teams should answer calls immediately – with zero wait time.

Make it easy for customers to reach you, from anywhere at any time. If you haven’t already done so, make omnichannel communication a priority. Monitor Facebook. Add live chat. Insist on email ticket creation. Add every channel possible so that customers can get in touch simply. And, of course, ensure that all channels are overseen by experienced personnel.

Faster service makes for happier customers.

#3: Rid your team of mundane tasks.

Examine your organization. Certainly there are requests that come in repeatedly which have multiple steps and often involve people from other departments. It can be time consuming for agents to follow detailed documented processes, individually handling each step along the way. Instead, find a tool that can automate these processes so that the ticket moves itself from one process step to the next without intervention.

The added benefit of doing so is that you’ll find fewer mistakes because there’s less room for human error. Customers appreciate having their requests handled correctly the first time.

#4: Speed up resolution times.

Faster service makes for happier customers. That’s why it’s important to match skill sets with requests. Consider new or seasonal employees: chances are that they simply don’t have enough product or service knowledge to answer in-depth customer questions efficiently. As requests come in, use an automated routing tool to make sure that your less experienced team members only receive the simplest tasks. Similarly, take time to outline escalation paths for more challenging issues. Route tasks that need a higher skill level to long-term skilled team members.

#5: Make ’em smile – customers and employees.

Of course, all of the planning and tools in the world won’t help you avoid customer service problems if your team isn’t happy and engaged. You need them to be enthusiastic about building strong customer relationships with every interaction. So, prioritize your team’s happiness: bring treats, incentivize them for extra effort, gamify their days with contests and prizes and embrace stress relief activities, like lunchtime walks or foam dart games.

Then, empower your happy team members to do the same for your customers: give them the leeway they need to get things back-on-track if a situation becomes irritating for a customer. Allow them to correct mistakes without a lot of overhead: product didn’t arrive in time? Let them provide free shipping. Customer confused by offer details? Let them make good on what the customer was expecting – within reason, of course. Let your customer service team take the steps that are necessary to put a smile on your customers’ faces too.

As the spring and summer seasons roll in, take precautions now to ensure that your customer service team has the tools and skills in place to continue building bright cheerful relationships with your customers. After all, 32% of customers say that they will stop doing business with a brand that they had previously loved if they have a poor customer experience. Take action now so that you don’t lose valuable customers, and enjoy a very happy vacation season.

Photos: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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