This weekend, the 2014 holiday season will officially be in full swing.

The average American will spend $459.87 on gifts for their friends and family between Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas. This figure has steadily increased every year for the past few years.

While people spending more is generally better for business everywhere, it can also result in an increased demand for customer service. Unfortunately, many companies are unequipped to handle the increase in customer service action and it hurts them long term.

Some compelling facts about holiday time customer service:

45% of consumers say customer service is worse around the holidays 29% of consumers share their bad experiences or say they'll never shop at that store again It takes 12 good experiences to make up for one bad one 30% of consumers say that ehlpful, knowledgable customer service plans an important role in their decision to shop at a particular store

Here are three of the most common errors made by customer service departments & some quick fixes.

NUMBER ONE: IMPERSONAL RESPONSES

We’ve all had a bad experience with a customer service agent at one point or another. It’s frustratingly obvious when you’re being read a scripted, cookie-cutter response that’s not entirely applicable to your situation. Treating every customer the same, without taking the time to hear them out as an individual customer, is a major pet peeve of many consumers.

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Try the following:

  • Call your customers by their name — and pronounce it correctly. Ask them for the correct pronunciation if you’re unsure. It’s a great way to connect with your customer right off the bat.
  • Reference a caller’s account or purchase history early on in the conversation. This will help you serve their needs better; it will also provide you with a better frame of reference for the conversation.

NUMBER TWO: LONG ON-HOLD TIMES

A sure fire way to start out a conversation on a bad foot is to make your customer to wait on you.  Customers will only wait 20 seconds (unitiv.com) before getting annoyed. It probably sounds impossible to get to every customer within 20 seconds and it very way may be. But, there are things you can do to significantly decrease hold times and/or make the waiting period a little more enjoyable.

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Try the following:

  • The best thing to do is employ seasonal CS agents to help handle the influx. Get them trained and manning phones ASAP.
  • Let your callers know what their approximate wait time will be. If a caller is told right off the bat that their wait will only be approximately 5 minutes, they’ll be more inclined to sit tight. If you tell them upfront it could be an hour, they may prefer plan on calling back at a different time.
  • Schedule call backs. Not every company can manage this, but if it’s possible, allow your customers to submit their contact information and request that a CS agent call them back. This gives your customer the freedom to go about their day as opposed to having to wait on the phone. This can also serve as an important call prioritization tool. Your agents can return emergency phone calls first or respond to best customers sooner. Or, they can tackle the list on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • Play soothing music. For one thing, it gives your customers something to do besides sit and wait. And, the relaxing sounds can help calm worked up or anxious customers. This will make your agents’ job easier and allows them to serve more customers faster.

NUMBER THREE: LACK OF A SYSTEM

You should know how to help your customers. If you can’t personally help them, you should know exactly who can and how they can contact that person. Better yet, you should be able to connect them directly, without them having to start the whole process over.cat2

Try the following:

  • Create an internal document that outlines who specializes in what. Include office hours, e-mail addresses, phone number and extensions.
  • Create a list of FAQs. Every single person in the CS portion of your organization should be able to answer questions that are asked most commonly.
  • Give your agents the power to solve the problem. It doesn’t make much sense to transfer callers to managers because they’re the only ones capable of authorizing refunds (or something similar). Calls are completed faster if the first person who answers the phone is able to do what needs to be done. Don’t slow things down by only giving management the power to truly help.

Of course, don’t forget the basics. “Please,” “thank you” and “have a nice day” go a long way, especially if you have to deliver bad news.

We hope these tips help your company thrive during the holiday shopping season. However, your business should also consider developing a long-term strategy for delivering outstanding customer service year round.

Consider a hosted contact center. A hosted contact center will allow your business to provide a personalized experience that leaves your customers satisfied with every interaction.

The term “hosted” simply means that everything you’ll need to operate is stored in the cloud. It means you won’t need to purchase any equipment or house any supplies in your physical office. All you need to operate is a computer and an Internet connection.Virtualization-of-a-HCC

Hosted operations are accessible from anywhere, so a hosted contact center can be set up to accommodate on premise agents, home-based employees or a mixture of both.

Some features of IVR Tech’s hosted contact center solution include:

  • Inbound, outbound & blended capabilities
  • Custom call routing & call transfer options to get your callers to the right place quickly
  • Call scripting for personalized experiences
  • Call recording to facilitate training & improve employees’ performances
  • Comprehensive reporting to help you monitor your customer interactions
  • On hold music to make wait times more enjoyable
  • Supervisor barge-in to help customers faster & more effectively

A final major selling point is that IVR Tech gives you the ability to integrate multiple channels into your contact center. By giving your customers the option to reach you over the phone, via e-mail or through a text message, you’ll be able to provide them with an unmatched level of convenience.

For more information on IVR Tech’s Hosted Contact Center, click here .

Click here to have one of our customer experience experts contact you to discuss how a Hosted Contact Center can help your business.

Sources:
1 – corvisacloud.com
2 – helpscout.net
3 – sociallystacked.com

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Kristen S

Kristen S

Kristen is responsible for managing all of IVR’s marketing efforts, including all of our digital media, managing partner relationships, driving leads and generating interest in our products and services.
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