Ah, the holidays. It’s the time for sugar canes, delicious eggnog, and jolly parties with loved ones, right? Well, not exactly. For us customer service folks it’s the time of the year that we call: the not-so-jolly holiday rush.
For B2C companies, the holiday rush means a significant increase in support requests from customers trying to finish their holiday shopping. Whereas for B2B businesses, this time of year is filled with troubleshooting issues for customers that are taking advantage of the holiday hype to boost customer engagement and sales.
But regardless of whether you’re part of a B2B or B2C service team, one thing’s for sure: if you offer live chat customer support, you can expect a downpour of live chat requests during the holiday season. On average, the number of live chat tickets rises by 67% during the holidays (starting in November). And of those chats, each is longer by an average of 1-15 minutes when compared to the off-season.
The good news is that with the right plan in place, your customer service team will be jingle bell rockin’ (yes, I just went there) their way through live chat support during the most demanding time of the year. All you have to do is follow the suggestions below.
Prepare the front lines to reduce live chat requests
Set yourself up for success by preparing the front lines of your support experience. This means ensuring that the areas where your customers will first interact with support—typically self-service and in-app troubleshooting messages—are updated with the latest helpful information. What this actually entails may differ depending on your organization. For instance, here at GetFeedback, our front lines preparation consists of updating our most popular self-service content and adding more helpful suggestions to our in-app troubleshooting messages.
If you’re not sure which self-service articles or in-app messages to update, focus on the ones that address the most common issues/questions for the broadest range of customers. Below are some examples of the in-app messages that we prioritize at GetFeedback during this time of year.
(The in-app message for when a user tries to delete a survey question)
(The in-app message for when a user transfers survey ownership)
By ensuring your front line support is up to date, you’ll slim down the amount of live chat customer support requests.
Embrace humility (it’s for your own sake)
I’ll be the first to admit that support people apologize far too much. To protect ourselves from the angry customer’s impending wrath, we often say sorry for issues that aren’t ours to apologize for. But while I agree that too many apologies can be unnecessary, they are essential to your success during this season.
No company is perfect, and during the craze of the holidays, mistakes are bound to be made. And given that live chat is the quickest method to ask for help, a disgruntled customer’s first message on chat is often full of feeling and frustration. While we want to fix their issue as soon as possible, taking a moment to apologize before diving in is a worthwhile approach to cool the waters.
The following is an example of how you could respond to a disgruntled customer with humility.
Sprinkle some empathy on top of that humility
Below is a continuation of the live chat sample conversation. Do you see the empathy from the support agent? It’s a priceless skill to be able to step into a customer’s shoes and try to understand an issue from their perspective.
So when a frustrated customer writes that they’re unable to figure out how to use a feature in your application for a project due before the holiday break, take a breath, realize how frustrating that must be for them, and move forward from there. Make sure they understand that you’re committed to resolving their issue as best as you can. And remember that the customer’s anger isn’t aimed at you, it’s aimed at the situation.
If all fails, remember you can’t win them all
Sometimes customers begin an interaction on live chat with too much anger to even hope for a positive resolution. In other cases, a customer may be so consumed in their frustration that they refuse to describe the issue, leaving us at a standstill on how to help them. All we can do in those situations is try our best and keep in mind that the number of customers we are able to help far outweighs the bitter ones.
If you’re wondering how to manage the worst live chat service interaction, take a look at at the sample transcript below.
Here the customer support agent has quickly identified a solution for the customer. So far so good right? Unfortunately, the customer doesn’t seem to think so—see below.
Clearly, the customer in this situation isn’t willing to compromise with the support agent, even though he has taken every avenue to gain more information from them and provided them with possible steps forward. So it’s not a surprise that the chat ends as follows.
In these situations, continue to take deep breaths and remember to extend kindness. And remember that while customer service can be difficult at times, it’s often filled with warmth and a genuine connection.
Don’t forget about the post-holidays rush
The live chat customer service holiday rush planning doesn’t stop at the end of December. In fact, there’s a new cycle of chat request downpour that starts in the following months.
B2C companies will need to help new users who can’t figure out how to set up their new product or want to make an exchange. Whereas most B2B companies will need to assist new customers in setting up their systems or programs. Of course, these are just a few examples of what post-holidays chat requests would consist of—each customer service team needs to prepare for its own challenges.
For example, at GetFeedback we consider ourselves the Santa post-holiday elves because our post-holiday rush is even more intense than our holiday rush. During this time, our biggest priority is to make sure our new and current users are satisfied and ready to hit the ground running with our product. We do this by providing our users with all the tools and insight they need to confidently start using our surveys.
If you have a solid live chat plan in place, there’s no reason why your customer service team shouldn’t come out of the holiday season unscathed. Plus, you should think of the holiday rush as a time to wow your customers. For more ideas on how to optimize your live chat support, check out our live chat customer service playbook.