It’s difficult to catch decision makers at their desks most of the year, but this doesn’t mean that you can forget customer service when you contact customers.
Look, I know how you feel. Calling all day, every day, reaching voicemails or getting transferred straight into voicemail without the line ever ringing. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and the fight goes on when we’re working in customer service, or sales, or marketing, or…maybe it’s something everyone in business experiences from time to time.
There are certain times of the year that always seem to be tougher to keep customer service spirits high when you contact customers. Christmas, New Year, Easter, Thanksgiving, and pretty much every holiday in between. I know it stinks to think that you’re going to spend the days or weeks calling and nobody picks up the dang phone because everyone is out of the office on vacation.
Downtime during vacations and special holidays can be a bad time for inside sales, B2B marketers and outbound customer service and call centers trying to contact customers. Leads are falling short and salespeople and call center agents are probably going to spend the a few days or week or so twiddling their thumbs and staring at the wall holding their breath. For eight hours. Every day. Wishing, hoping, even praying that some customer is dead-set on doing business no matter what time of the year it is.
But instead of pouting, and grouching, and bellyaching like a spoiled child on the snacks aisle, why don’t you ease up a bit on your traditional approach and try to contact customers a different way?
You know, like diverting some of your call center resources to stepping up customer service and be even more personal when you contact customers for instance. It’s probably not going to boost sales instantly, but definitely a good way to make your customers feel special, and perchance remember you on their next purchase. Remember, holidays and vacations don’t last forever, customers will continue to do business.
Don’t set your sights too low when you contact customers.
Let’s face it. It’s quite difficult to catch decision makers at their desks, let alone get an appointment most of year. Yet, it’s not enough reason to call it quits, give up, or forget your customer service quality when you contact customers. Keep your customer service and support up, and be ready to delight customers and address issues as they come.
Remember, not all businesses close down for Christmas, not everyone is out partying on New Year’s Day, not all countries celebrate the same holidays at the same time, and Summer in the northern hemisphere, isn’t summer in the south. While you can’t contact customers you normally do, there are probably others than you can.
When you contact customers, try a lighter touch.
Telemarketing for the purpose of getting sales appointments at this point can be quite risky because even if you catch a prospect at all, you will likely be interrupting a very busy time (read: killjoy). The moment you start sputtering those obviously scripted cold call lines you’ve been rehearsing for who-knows-how-long, the “pest factor” kicks in, and before you know it people start blocking your caller ID.
So instead of pushing hard for a sale or an appointment, use your call center resources to send short, simple, and warm holiday-related (Christmas, New Year, Easter, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter, ) greetings to customers thanking them for choosing you. You can even talk about the weather at the customer’s location.
And, yes, you can also extend the same greetings to prospects and cold contacts along with a quick introduction of your business.
Keep yourself on your customers’ radar.
With the general perception that business does not pick up very well during the festive season, some of your competitors may actually take time out of business. This results in fewer messages being sent (read: “less noise”) into your market, and fewer options for prospects who are looking for business.
When people can’t find you, (get this) they’ll simply move on to other options. Just being around and ready to provide quality customer service can mean the difference between winning more clients when you contact customers and losing what you already have.
Always be ready to contact customers that need you
Just when we’ve spent all year begging customers to give you a chance, a holiday comes around and you close up shop and are nowhere to be found. You are bound to have customers actually try to contact you for a change, but won’t be able to because everyone is on holiday. This can be terribly frustrating for customers.
Every year without fail I can expect to get autoreplies from people who take off December 20-January 2. Am I a grinch? Sounds cruel, right? Well, maybe a bit. But in the real world of B2B marketing, customer service, and small business in a global economy, long holiday vacations are hardly an option.
Harsh as it seems, requiring your call center agents and customer service reps to work full-time during the holidays can be your most rewarding option. You know why? Because it’s the end of the year, end of the quarter, and end of the month!
And in case you haven’t figured out yet, many budgets are run on these schedules. These are times when goals and performances of various departments are being assessed. And most importantly, these are times when decision makers want to, well, make decisions.
‘Keeping it real’ with real customer service
When things don’t run like normal, you have an opportunity to change up how you contact customers, make an impression, and show that your customer experience is real, genuine, and something special.