The festive seasons is a high-pressure time for a lot of businesses, especially for smaller companies who may not be as prepared for the manic rush as their larger counterparts.
Research shows that there can be up to a 75% increase in customer service inquiries over holiday periods, so having a solid customer support strategy in place is key to cutting through the noise and shining brighter than your competitors.
Nathalie Schooling, CEO of customer experience company, nlighten, shares her top tips on delivering a seamless customer experience during the festive season.
Don’t skimp on manpower
While it can be a tricky time for employees due to holiday and family commitments, don’t underestimate the value of having all hands-on deck. If you need to bring in more staff, make provisions. It can also help to incentivise your staff with either cash bonuses or making allowances for extra breaks or flexitime. Show your employees that you appreciate them working through the festive season. This generosity can go a long way in keeping staff motivated, and in turn provide good customer service.
Nothing frustrates a customer more than when they can’t have what they see in the window. If you’re advertising it, then put up the goods. “Sorry, we are out of stock” can be seen as a poor excuse in what is obviously a very busy season. The best way to navigate this is to plan ahead and to not make promises that you can’t keep.
Customer EXPERIENCE is key
This is a great time of year to capture the hearts of both existing customers and new ones. It’s the season to pull out all the stops and make a lasting impression. If your business allows it, try and cater to the whole family (think of those with kids). Have fun with in-store activations or offer special deals. Identify where you can add more value for the customer. Remember, it’s a stressful time for them too, and they are not likely to forget those who go out of their way to make it easier on them.
Make your customer feel safe
This applies to both online safety and physical in-store safety. Customers can be more vulnerable to theft during the festive season, so it’s important for businesses to make them feel safe. With identity theft on the rise in South Africa, assuring customers that their personal information is safe and secure is paramount. Offer in-store safety by increasing security staff presence, controlling the front-of house entry point with smart locks, or installing camera systems.
Do not slack on social media
Designate social media responsibilities to ensure someone is always available to respond to customer queries. Have a content plan in place so that your accounts are not lying dormant during this period.
Learn from your mistakes
Look at what worked and what didn’t in previous years and adapt. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be sure to have customer feedback systems in place so that you can collect data and insights. Use this feedback to keep improving your customer service strategy.