Almost ubiquitously across industries, disciplines, and borders, December is one of the most stressful months for workers. The end of the year means salespeople are racing to hit their goals, product developers are pushing to finalize their projects, and employees are rushing to solidify accounts before the holidays. The resulting professional environment is thin on both time and patience, which are incidentally two of the things service workers need most.
It’s easy to lose sight of quality service and professionalism in the flurry of the season, but it doesn’t have to happen. There are a few easy steps that you can take to ensure that your customers stay satisfied, your boss stays happy, and you stay sane as the year winds to a close.
One of the biggest determinant factors in customer experience is the level of personal attention customers feel like they’re getting. During the holidays, it is easy to fall into generic, somewhat spam-y engagement that borrows typical “season’s greetings” clichés and promotions.
Thanks to modern technology and CRM, we have access to more data about our customers than ever before – so use it! Do more than the store wide seasonal deal alert; highlight items specific to your customers’ needs. It does take a bit more time to tailor your approach on a customer-by-customer basis than it would to use a generic approach, but it makes a world of difference in the customers’ takeaways. No one remembers a “fine” customer experience. It’s the little, thoughtful, personal touches that resonate. And it’s those kinds of touches that will eventually set a customer service organization apart. Holiday cookies are delicious; cookie-cutter campaigns — not so much.
Seriously. Customer service requires patience and attentiveness in spades, so why strain yourself in areas you don’t need to and risk compromising that? As pressure spikes at the end of the year, take a look at your task load and work environment and prioritize. Are there small changes you can make that will enable you to perform better?
Enterprises embracing cloud technology often provide a legitimate option for employees to work remotely while still being able to access all of the resources they need to do their job well. If you’re travelling or have the option, it might be a good opportunity to cut out distractions and focus on what matters: keeping customers happy.
Remember, during the end of the year customers are primed with their own anxiety and stress related to work, holiday travel, and family. Empathize with your patrons, but don’t fall into their cadence of haste, panic, or frustration. You can’t fix a customer’s problem without knowing its root. So before you dive in too deep, make sure you take time to really understand what it is that your customers need.
One of the biggest temptations that arises as things get busier is the urge to find a quick fix. But the problem with quick fixes is that they don’t always end up staying fixed. Check in with yourself at the beginning of every call and ask yourself: do I truly understand what this customer needs? If you can answer that question with confidence, then move it along! If not, take the time to really get to the bottom of it — it’ll end up saving you time in the long run.
Too often, customer service feels like a long stream of one-on-one interactions between the service rep and the customer. But there’s something to be said about working as part of a team. Service professionals have access to real-time customer feedback, which is one of the most valuable resources that a company could have. If you come across information that you think might be valuable to other departments or to other service members, share it.
If other members do the same, everyone stands to benefit. The holiday season is filled with cross-team, cross-channel opportunities. Use what you know to grow your business beyond basic customer service. Share insights that improve future interactions, bolster sales and ignite positive brand engagement.
It’s easy to feel buried in the mound of tasks that inevitably come with the end of the year, but by prioritizing carefully and using your resources smartly, it doesn’t have to be painful for you, your coworkers or your customers. And when it all slows down, you can always reward yourself with a big holiday desert!
Tim Pickard is SVP Marketing at cloud contact center vendor NewVoiceMedia and has over 20 years' experience as a leader in the IT industry. Pickard previously served as VP and board member of RSA Security's international business for seven years where he ran marketing in EMEA, Asia Pacific and Japan, and most recently spent two years as Chief Marketing Officer for SaaS/Cloud-based email management provider Mimecast. NewVoiceMedia powers customer connections that transform businesses globally. The leading vendor’s award-winning cloud customer contact platform connects organizations with their customers worldwide, enabling them to deliver a personalized and unique customer experience and drive a more effective sales and marketing team. Spanning 116 countries and six continents, NewVoiceMedia’s 250+ customers include: Topcon, PhotoBox, DPD, Lumesse, QlikView and SureFlap.
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