Mandy Holford, director of customer services at Echo-U
December is here and the festive season is firmly upon us, but tensions can start to rise as we scour shops and websites in search of our last few bits and bobs for Christmas.
As town centres get busier, tempers will inevitably flare, so it’s more important than ever for businesses to maintain a happy customer base.
Mandy Holford, director of customer services at Echo-U, shares her top five tips for businesses to achieve customer satisfaction scores as high as Santa Claus himself.
1. Stay positive
Christmas can be a stressful time for all, but if the person on the front-line of your business creates a positive experience for the customer it will go some way to alleviating tensions.
Although the customer may not see their face, they can often detect mood in their voice or correspondence. Whoever handles your phone calls, social media and emails should be able to stay cheerful in tone, but also be good at getting straight to the point and acknowledging quickly if something’s not gone to plan.
Your customer service team should take notice when people are dissatisfied or downright angry and find swift solutions to their problems, putting procedures in place to avoid a complaint escalating.
Ideally, every business should plan ahead and make sure they have their processes in place – they could hold a customer focus group ahead of the Christmas rush, ensuring they are aware of the issues that customers find most frustrating and putting procedures in place to make sure that these do not occur.
Customer feedback gained in quiet times should be turned into tips for making light of the very busy spells. Businesses should make use of what they learn from Black Friday, taking note of any issues that arise and finding solutions in time for Christmas.
3. Get social
Everyone is busy over the festive period, not just Santa’s elves! Customers may be reluctant to pick up the phone for fear of long wait times. Instead, they may well turn to social media to find troubleshooting tips and answers to their questions, or simply to vent. If there is no swift reply to customer queries on social channels, customers will voice their frustrations online.
Avoid unwanted negativity and protect the reputation of your company by interacting with customers on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, through web chat, private messaging or via pre-answered FAQs. This will boost customer satisfaction and make for a stress-free festive period –a customer whose issue is resolved quickly will often share their satisfaction on social too. If you manage your social media channels yourself, it would be wise to beef up this resource over the busy festive build-up period.
4. Focus on your employees
Happy customers are a priority, but it’s important to remember that staff must be happy too, so while you go through busy spells, you should make an effort to boost the morale of the team and reward employees for their hard work, particularly after busy periods like the Black Friday rush.
At Echo-U, we focus on creating a festive, happy and healthy workplace through simple and effective initiatives like ‘12 Days of Christmas’, where we celebrate with incentives and games to keep advisors happy and morale high, and we encourage the team to look after their health and wellbeing especially when it's a busy, stressful and cold time of year.
You could take part in simple charity activities which will motivate the team, especially if they have a choice of charity to support – the ‘feel good’ factor that will come from this will last for the whole Christmas period.
As the busy festive season approaches, businesses should let their customer service advisors know how their actions affect customer experience and the wider company at a peak sales period. They should be made to feel like they are a vital part of a team keeping everything moving and supporting the rest of the company who are busy handling high demand.
5. Be honest and don’t over-promise
Lastly, customers will understand that Christmas is a busy time of year for everyone, so your frontline staff should be honest rather than over-promising and ultimately under-delivering.
For example, if you are an e-tailer, you should be clear about any delays to Christmas deliveries and keep the customers informed. If there is any failure in customer service, and you act quickly and provide quick updates, they will see this as a bonus.