For many businesses, the month of December brings increased traffic and higher sales numbers, along with a tougher workload for customer service employees. Whether you're answering phones or helping customers in person, adequate personal and professional preparation is key to surviving December.
Before December arrives, sit down with the customer service team to discuss the upcoming month. Talk about past holidays, and identify common customer problems. As a group, come up with ways to handle each situation; if necessary, write scripts to help workers handle difficult conversations. Look to your more experienced service workers for advice and insight. This process gets everyone on the same page and creates reasonable expectations. When staff members know what is coming, they are less likely to be caught unprepared and more likely to react with grace.
Hire Additional Help
During the holidays, many businesses see increased traffic in person, online and over the phone. A few weeks into December, customer service professionals may feel overworked and stressed. Lighten the load by hiring additional help before the holidays get underway. If you're working with a limited budget, hire inexpensive temporary workers to help service staff with daily errands and administrative tasks. Alternatively, bring in more service workers to work directly with customers. With less stress and added support, surviving December can be a painless process.
Increase Office Comfort
If your customer service staff work extra hours during December, take steps to increase comfort on the job. Bring in a steady stream of snacks and drinks, or treat the workers to a daily lunch. In non-customer-facing environments, allow a temporary relaxation of the professional dress code or allow employees to work from home. If possible, rent comfortable couches to create alternative seating options during a long day of phone calls. During the last two weeks of the month, bring in a masseuse for quick shoulder massages. Small changes make employees feel valued and help them stay relaxed so they can deliver the best possible service.
Embrace the Holiday Spirit
When faced with long lines of increasingly frustrated customers, it can be difficult to offer service with a smile. To lift the mood for workers and shoppers, create a pleasant holiday environment. Decorate the building, hang lights for a more cheerful atmosphere and allow workers to wear festive outfits. Hire a small musical ensemble to provide Christmas songs, or bring in carolers. These small distractions provide an element of fun and give customers something to do while they wait for customer service.
Customer service employees are essential to surviving the end-of-year holiday season. With the right preparation and special workplace perks, you can keep service staff happy and make it easier for them to interact with customers in a calm and efficient manner.
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