Get the best practices on managing increased ticket volumes and customer expectations during the holiday rush.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the best time to delight customers.
As customers increasingly shift towards online channels to purchase their favourite goods and services, your customer service agents have stepped up to fill in many roles. And with fewer in-person experiences, these agents are now the friendly face greeting customers at the door, the personal shopper and the sales associate—all in one.
This translates into record increases in ticket volumes year on year. And things are about to get busier this holiday season: Whether you are running an e-commerce, travel or logistics business, your customer service teams will be dealing with significantly higher support volumes.
Listed below are six best practices to get ready for peak periods without raising overheads, or harming the customer experience:
1. Prepare ahead for holiday-related FAQs
More than 80% of customers prefer searching for answers on their own before reaching out for support—a well-stocked online knowledge base or help center helps them find answers quickly without having to trawl through your site.
Start with preparing answers to commonly asked questions during the holidays. For an e-commerce company, these questions would likely pertain to shipping times, locations, priority mail options, and more. For most other businesses, you can expect customers to ask about office closures, holiday surcharges, potential service delays etc.
Next, display these FAQs prominently in your knowledge base, or use banners to highlight important information such as order cut-off times, return policies, or even COVID-19 precautions.
Self-help options provide instant answers 24/7, allowing you to eliminate ~40% email tickets. With this, you can save agents’ time spent on answering the same questions over and over again, and free up their capacity for higher-order tasks while avoiding massive ticket backlogs.
2. Automate FAQ responses via chatbots
A well-designed customer service chatbot helps you dish out fast answers to FAQs at any time of day or night, including those that may be blocking them from making a purchase. They also speed up self-service by providing links to relevant knowledge base articles depending on your customers’ input.
Take your holiday FAQs identified in the previous step, and let chatbots handle those enquiries to reduce the load from your agents on live chat.
3. Escalate complex enquiries immediately
During the busy holidays, customers are often stressed out and scrambling to get things done. Thus it’s best to let human agents handle more complex problems, and employ chatbots only for simple, straightforward resolutions.
Still, chatbots can help by automating the fact-finding process, and route the live chat to a relevant agent with the problem context. For instance, chatbots can collect customer contacts, details of their question or issue, what actions they have taken and which pages they have visited on your site. Then, based on what the customer has entered, chatbots will escalate the chat session to the right agent best suited for the issue at hand.
Aided with the unified customer card, agents can also access the customer’s interaction history across all support channels, recent purchases and payments without switching between different software. With the data, agents can better understand their customer, get to the heart of the issue, and ultimately deliver a faster, more customised resolution.
4. Offer proactive support on checkout pages
A recent study of more than 18 million ecommerce sessions found that nearly 74% of US online shopping carts were abandoned last holiday season. One of the most effective ways to assist customers in completing their order is to trigger a proactive live chat session to address any questions they may have before they even ask them.
Consider the following scenario: A customer has been on your checkout page for a few minutes and has a query regarding shipping options. You can set up a trigger a live chat message that appears on the page to offer help proactively, discount codes, or provide links to purchase-related FAQs.
5. Set up holiday-specific routing
Businesses are typically shorthanded during the holiday season, and with increased support volumes during peak periods, backlogs can quickly mount up. Here, intelligent routing and SLA features help you distribute tasks efficiently, reduce customer waiting time across channels, and stay on top of SLA or internal KPIs.
For instance, you can set up special business hours and/or shift routing to reflect your day-by-day operating and staffing situation, ensuring that emails, calls, and live chats are always answered promptly. Tasks are only assigned to online agents, where employees on holiday leave are automatically excluded, so customers won’t be left hanging.
When your team’s capacity is maxed out, you can put a cap on waiting queues and provide an option for customers to request a callback. SLA management and alert features also allows you to create SLA- or KPI-dependent routing such that expiring tasks are routed to back-up teams for fast action.
6. Manage customer expectations
Though often overlooked, managing customer expectations is one of the most important things to do during crunch times. Proactively disclose approximate response times or queue lengths during holidays so that customers can avoid potential long waiting times.
As a triaging measure, disclosing the expected waiting time can also work to deflect non-urgent requests until after the holidays, or direct customers to self-serve using your knowledge base.
Plan ahead to capture holiday and peak period sales
Christmas and New Year’s Day are excellent opportunities to increase income, but only when your customer service and support teams are well-prepared and equipped with the tools needed to do their best. With FocalScope, you can enable your team to provide personalised, efficient support at scale and decrease, or even eliminate, reliance on temporary staff during busy periods.