Providing excellent customer service is never easy, but the holiday season presents special challenges. Customers flock to busy malls and commerce centers to find gifts for everyone on their lists, resulting in long lines and increased wait times. Tensions also run high when stores run out of stock of the hottest gifts of the season, making people irate and less likely to tolerate poor customer service. Avoid the following mistakes if you don't want to disappoint customers with subpar customer service during the holiday season.
If you cannot assist a customer immediately, provide a reason for the delay. Waiting for service is unenjoyable for most shoppers, so explaining why something is taking so long goes a long way toward making the wait more tolerable. Researchers Ryan Buell and Michael Norton said people will value the service more if they can see the work being done, so make sure your customers do not see associates texting their friends or standing around with nothing to do.
Make sure you allocate resources to the right departments during the busiest shopping season of the year. If you're having trouble with your customer database or the computer your associates need to enter customer orders is slow, make sure you take care of these types of problems well before Thanksgiving. Even if you weren't able to fix the problem this year, make it a priority for 2014. Some companies faltered this year by offering last-minute shipping on Christmas orders. Although some of the blame lies with the delivery agents and inclement weather, some of these problems could have been avoided if retailers had allocated more resources to their customer service, fulfillment, and packing departments.
Training customer service representatives well in advance of the season is another way to avoid disappointing customers. Many companies make the mistake of hiring seasonal workers a few days before the busy shopping season starts. If these workers are not trained properly, they will not know how to provide excellent customer service and still comply with company policies. Not only does this hurt your customer service efforts, but it can also cost you money. Ask experienced customer service reps to sit in on training sessions and offer assistance to seasonal workers. New workers will feel more confident about providing excellent customer service if they know they have support from supervisors.
Good customer service will help your company succeed, but bad service will hurt your reputation and cost you money. If you want to meet customer service expectations, explain any necessary delays, allocate resources to the right people, and make sure seasonal employees get the training they need before they work with customers. These steps may cost you a little extra time and money, but they will help you deliver excellent customer service during a very busy season.
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