The Role of Customer Service Throughout the Festive Season
Thursday 14th December
The Role of Customer Service Throughout the Festive Season
Thursday 14th December 2023
There’s not long to go until Christmas Day, so customers are heading to their favourite stores - both online and offline - to buy gifts, food and decor, as well as visiting restaurants and booking last-minute hotel rooms for their festive holidays. According to Freshdesk, customer enquiries increase by a massive 75% during the Christmas season, so it’s essential for businesses to provide first-class customer service at this crucial time, no matter their industry or niche.
Do you feel that you need to make some last-minute changes to your brand’s current support strategy, or just want some helpful pointers for next year? You’ve come to the right place - we’ve outlined our best suggestions and key stats regarding festive customer service below.
Extend Your Customer Service Hours
Depending on the size and nature of your business, you may need to adjust your customer service hours during the festive period if you currently only operate from 9-5. This could involve some extra support at the weekends, or an around-the-clock strategy that covers everything from early mornings to late evenings. Make sure these times are outlined clearly on your website and/or social media pages, so customers know when they can contact you and therefore how long they should expect to wait for a response.
As well as displaying them in your social media bio, you could also create a pinned post so it’s the first thing people see when they visit your page. Here’s how to pin a post on the following platforms:
Here at 3sixfive we offer an out-of-hours Community Management service that even includes Christmas Day itself, so if you’re happy to handle your responses during your standard office hours but require some additional assistance before and after this period, we’ve got you covered. We’ll adopt your brand’s tone of voice to guarantee consistency throughout your communications, and will arrange daily handovers to ensure that the transition between your hours and ours is 100% seamless.
Scale Up Your Social Media Support
Social media traffic rises by a staggering 73% during the Christmas period, so it’s vital that your customer care team is prepared to respond to a higher volume of both public comments and private messages than usual on platforms such as Facebook, X and Instagram.
If you’re unable to scale up your in-house social media team, outsourcing your Community Management to an external agency like 3sixfive is an excellent alternative. Many of our clients have confirmed that their staff wellbeing has greatly improved since partnering with us - especially during busy times like Christmas - because our always-on approach allows them to sit back, switch off and take a well-earned break, confident in the knowledge that their social media inboxes are being taken care of by a team of experts.
Not only do we specialise in social media customer service, we also know how to handle online crises calmly and pragmatically, conduct social listening to identify any untagged mentions of your brand, and carry out proactive engagement to raise brand awareness and make the most of trending moments.
Self-Service Options & FAQs
Of course you should be there to speak to your customers whenever they need you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also offer some self-service options to reduce your amount of incoming requests and help shoppers get the answers they need. In fact, 67% of people now prefer to use self-service options when they have an enquiry about a product, 77% say they view brands more positively if they provide some form of self-service, and 90% of consumers worldwide expect brands and organisations to have an online self-service portal.
This could involve adding an FAQ section to your website, or, as mentioned above, creating a pinned post on your social media pages outlining some common enquiries and solutions, such as delivery options, opening hours and last order dates for Christmas. For restaurants and other hospitality brands, you could pin your festive menu so guests can see what dishes and drinks will be available before deciding whether to make a booking.
Use a Separate Account on Social Media
If your incoming message volume is particularly high, it may be a good idea to open a secondary account solely for customer support purposes. These types of accounts are common on X, and can help you keep enquiries and complaints separate from other comments relating to your social media content, general festive chit-chat and broader conversations about your brand. The username could simply be your brand name with ‘CS’, ‘Support’ or ‘Help’ added to the end. Just remember to mention this account in the bio of your main profile so customers know where to go to receive assistance, and double check that you’re using the right account when responding.
Resolve Enquiries & Complaints Promptly
Understandably, customers don’t want to wait around for slow responses or deal with the frustration of poor service at any time of year - but seeing as Christmas should be a positive, stress-free time, it’s even more crucial to respond quickly and resolve issues promptly during this season.
Focus on reducing the following metrics as much as possible:
• FRT: This stands for First Reply/Response Time and measures how long the customer has to wait before help arrives.
• AHT: This stands for Average Handle Time and measures the average time it takes you to deal with a customer enquiry from start to finish.
• FCR: This stands for First Contact Resolution and measures the rate at which your team is able to resolve customer requests within the first contact - aka without needing further escalation.
42% of consumers who share a complaint on social media expect a response within 60 minutes, while 32% aren’t prepared to wait any longer than just 30 minutes. 53% of shoppers will even abandon a purchase completely if they don’t receive a speedy reply from a brand, so, if you aren’t replying fast enough, you could be increasing customers’ dissatisfaction or losing them to competitors. That’s why it’s critical to handle complaints swiftly if you want to keep their custom and reduce churn.
If you don’t currently have a Live Chat facility on your brand’s website, the holiday season could be an ideal time to implement one - and if you do already have one, you can expect to receive around 10% more chat requests than usual at this time of year if you’re in the retail sector.
Live Chat widgets offer direct, speedy communication with your customers when they need it most, and enable you to give them the answers they need to complete a purchase while they’re browsing your website. You can also suggest product bundles and give gift suggestions to shoppers, encourage sales with exclusive promo codes, and resolve checkout issues such as payment failures or discount codes not working.
Live Chat isn’t just suitable for eCommerce stores either - restaurants can also use it to take table bookings for Christmas meals, provide menu information and reply to general enquiries. Check out this case study to discover how we used Live Chat to help family pub chain Hungry Horse boost covers and provide quick responses to prospective guests.
It may seem tempting to set up an automated chatbot to send all of your responses for you, but we would highly recommend steering clear of this option. Bots are notorious for misreading and misinterpreting customers’ messages, plus they can’t offer true personalisation and will put up barriers between you and your customers. It’s much better to provide real, human responses instead of using AI - we can do this for you, thanks to our comprehensive Live Chat service.
Don’t forget, the customer journey doesn’t end at the checkout or when guests leave your establishment - you should also pay attention to the reviews they leave once they’ve completed their experience. During the festive season, a higher amount of customer feedback is left on platforms such as Google, Tripadvisor and Facebook than usual, which is especially pertinent for restaurants, cafés and bars, with 94% of diners reading reviews online before deciding where to eat.
Whether they’re positive, negative or neutral, you should respond to all of your incoming reviews, as this allows you to thank happy customers for their kind words and gently encourage them to buy from you again, while also giving you the chance to apologise to unhappy customers and work towards resolving any concerns raised in their feedback. 96% of people read businesses’ responses to their reviews and 7 in 10 consumers say that a brand’s response to a review has the power to change their perception of it, so if you aren’t replying to your feedback, you could be missing out on key opportunities to boost your online reputation.
Worried that you won’t have time to monitor and respond to all of your brand’s reviews during the holiday period? We’re here to help with our Review Management service which will ensure that none of your customer feedback is left unanswered.
Christmas is a busy time and while it may seem overwhelming for your customer service team, with some careful preparation, additional support from an external agency and a well-planned social media strategy, there’s no reason why your brand can’t excel and build fantastic customer relationships this festive season! We’re here 365 days a year to assist your business online, so if you’d like to partner with us next year, contact us today to discuss your goals.
- February 22, 2024
- February 15, 2024
- February 8, 2024
- February 1, 2024
- January 25, 2024
- January 18, 2024