Customer Service expectations are rising and businesses must strive for excellence if they are to stay ahead of the competition. A recent survey by Gladly found customer service is a key factor in purchasing decisions for 54% of consumers and 19% of respondents choose their favourite brand based on customer experience.

Word-of-mouth advertising can be one of the most powerful forms of publicity. It’s an effective way to spread a brand message and increase the reach of a business. Taking the time to understand the preferences, buying patterns and behaviours of your customers is crucial to business success. An increasing number of companies have an online presence, which means they must understand a global audience. Putting in the effort to build positive customer relationships will pay off in terms of customer loyalty and brand reputation. It will also make it easier to resolve any issues as they arise. 

Even the most well-oiled business machine will encounter problems sometimes, especially during peak periods. Generally, what matters to the customer is how you handle the issue — not that it has arisen in the first place. Imagine having a query or concern that is instantly recognised and resolved without a prolonged wait. During the holidays, people are often in a rush and may be more impatient, so businesses must take extra care to deliver the highest standards of customer service. Customer complaints should be acknowledged and resolved as quickly as possible. A positive outcome will boost both customer and employee morale.

Here are a few tips that will help you to deliver excellent customer service during the holiday rush.

Keep Calm

A calm mind keeps the chaos at bay.  Employees with patience and endurance should handle angry customers. It is important company representatives respond calmly to customer complaints. Every customer interaction is important as each one will reflect on the brand. Word-of-mouth publicity can be both positive and negative, and in these days of Twitter and other social media platforms, it can spread like wildfire. 

Quick Response  

Whether the customer has a simple query or a complaint, the sooner the matter is resolved, the happier the customer will be. If an agent is not immediately available to respond to an incoming call, make sure the customer is updated or redirected to an available member of staff.

Make Sure Staff Are Well Trained

Customer service agents need to be on top of their game in the peak holiday season. They should have all of the information and training they need. This includes having a solid grasp of the service and products on offer, understanding the functions of different departments enabling them to direct queries efficiently, knowing about any seasonal promotions on offer and being equipped with the skills and resources or manage customer complaints. 

Make Use of Technology

Customers hate being left waiting or bounced from department to department as a business struggles to find the right person to manage their query. Make life easier for yourself, your employees and your customers by taking advantage of the business technology available. Business answering services are a cost-effective solution that are quick and easy to set up. A virtual assistant can be available to respond to customer calls 24/7. Calls can quickly redirect to the most appropriate member of staff, forwarded to a colleague working remotely or sent to voicemail. Whatever time of day or night a customer calls, there will always be a response. 

Deliver a Personalised Service

Each customer has unique needs and preferences. The solution required will, therefore, differ from one customer to the next. Even in the holiday rush, customer service agents must take the time to understand each customer’s requirements, record it correctly and ensure they resolve the matter satisfactorily. This will result in greater customer loyalty, improved brand reputation and less time spent on repeat calls for unresolved problems.  

Remember Your Manners 

Who doesn’t like to be recognised and greeted? Offering a friendly holiday greeting may seem like a small action, but it can set the customer experience off on the right foot. Even an angry customer, complaint at the ready, is more likely to present their issue calmly and act reasonably if greeted with professionalism and manners. Whether an employee or a virtual assistant greets callers, be sure to set up a professional greeting for the holiday season.

Offer Multiple Methods of Communication 

Many customers will quickly become alienated if they are forced down one path of communication. Personalised service means offering customers a choice of communication methods. Make sure customers are aware of how to get in touch with you and give them the option of making a telephone call, sending an email or using online chat.

Make the Most of Customer Data

Get the most out of every customer interaction by accessing the customer data available before picking up the phone or sending an email. Most businesses use CRM (Customer Relations Management) software to create an up-to-date record of all previous interactions with every customer. This can be a gold mine of information that helps agents to deliver excellent customer service while boosting business by resolving matters quickly and seizing on opportunities to upsell or cross-sell.

The holiday season is a peak period for many businesses. For long-term business success and a positive brand image, it’s crucial customer service is prized as highly as sales. Companies that put in the extra effort to ensure customers receive a consistently high standard of service all year round will reap the rewards.