As we all look forward to the end of the year, the holiday season will be here before we know it. But, thanks to COVID-19, more and more customers will be online shopping—and interfacing with call center professionals. In this blog, we cover 7 tips to help call center team members manage the high influx of customer service requests.
With expected shipping delays, stock issues and an overall higher number of people shopping earlier and online, you can anticipate dealing with a higher number of customer service requests through your call center. Traditionally, the holiday rush brings a lot of headaches to call center activities. So, it’s more important this year than ever to be ready to face customers with positivity.
Whether over the phone, online or through social media, these customer interactions must be handled with care. Here are some call center etiquette tips to help you navigate the holiday rush.
#1. Set customer expectations
Especially in the world of COVID-19, make sure you inform your customers of any changes in customer service availability. Update the website and any social media profiles with your hours to prevent any misunderstandings.
A good rule of thumb: under-promise and over-deliver. If customers only expect you to be available 5 days of the week, but you reply on the weekend, you will exceed their expectations and make them happy!
#2. Set up automatic responses
Take advantage of autoresponders online and on social media to make sure any question or comment from a customer doesn’t go unanswered when you’re offline. These kinds of automatic responses are helpful for frequently asked questions. But make sure you circle back to the messages to provide a personalized response.
#3. Steer conversations offline
Social media is a great platform for interacting with customers and building a positive brand reputation. But once a specific service case comes through, you should follow through with that request offline. Make sure you address any issues publicly with a positive tone, but take the rest of the conversation offline—either with a phone call or private message.
#4. Use proper phone etiquette
While online conversations and social media interactions are growing in popularity, phone calls are still the lifeblood of a call center.
Some customers might call with complaints that seem unreasonable or impossible to address. Even in the worst of situations, remember that this is a difficult and emotional time for everyone, and try to stick to proper phone etiquette, including:
- Answer the phone quickly
- Never interrupt
- Use the customer’s name
- Avoid putting them on hold
- Smile – yes, they can hear a smile!
- Be honest
- Be confident
#5. Spread holiday cheer
It’s important to stick to proper phone etiquette guidelines, but that doesn’t mean you have to be rigid and scripted on the phone. This has been a hard year, and while the holidays may seem like a light at the end of the tunnel for many, some could still be having a hard time.
Be the joy of the season for every customer you interact with by infusing some appropriate holiday flair into your conversation.
#6. Offer a callback option
Configure your call center software with an option that allows your callers to request a callback from the waiting queue or be transferred straight to voicemail.
By definition, the “holiday rush” consists of customers trying to get a lot done in a short period of time. Anything you can do to streamline and smoothen their experience is valuable.
When you offer a callback option, you’re saving your customer the time they’d have to wait on hold—so they can do something else in the meantime. They are likely to be happier when you do call back, instead of frustrated from being on hold for an unknown amount of time.
#7. Support your team
Lastly, the best customer interactions stem from happy team members. So, take care of your team during this busy, uncertain time.
Reduce agent busy work by automating manual repetitive tasks, so your team can spend more time interacting with customers and less time completing these tasks.
Also, be mindful of your call center agents’ schedules, especially as you are likely still balancing remote work with limited in-office work. Make sure you optimize scheduling and agent capacity, so your team is prepared to handle calls during periods of high call volume.
As the holiday season approaches, call centers need to be ready for a higher volume of calls. These call center etiquette tips will help you and your team prepare for the best (and worst).