There’s something about Christmas lights glimmering on every house and Christmas music playing in every store that makes me want to stay cozy at home, watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and avoid doing work. Is it just me?… I don’t think so. It doesn’t matter what kind of job you work. Every year, as Christmas rolls around, everyone grows reluctant to work.

It’s much easier to check out and take the existing time off we’ve been saving up. But, as a contact center manager, you don’t have the luxury of checking out early. The end of the year means the end of a long list of deadlines, tying up loose ends, and prepping your team for the coming year.

Even though your agents want to check out, your customers still need you. They’re making end of the year purchases and stocking up on Christmas gifts. And with that, you need to focus on the customer most during the holiday season. How do you keep your agents focused on your customers’ needs throughout the busy holiday season? And, how do you continue to support your agents so they stay engaged and stress-free?

We’ve compiled a few areas to focus on to help you prioritize your employees and your customers through the holidays.

Update your self-service tools

During the holiday rush, your staffing is stretched thin from PTO requests and you have an influx in customer requests. One simple way to lessen the load for your employees and still keep the focus on your customer is to update your self-service tools.

73% of customers prefer to use a company’s website to resolve their issues. And yet, 55% of customers find those self-service tools difficult to use. Self-service empowers your customers to find the answers to their questions quickly without having to go through the process of sitting on hold or repeating their story over live chat. It also ensures that the customers actually reaching out to your agents are those with more complex issues.

Keep your self-service tools updated and intuitive to use to keep the focus on your customers’ time and free up your agents for the complicated tasks.

Double down on extending empathy to your customers through speedy service

For many, the holiday season brings a lot of stress — family tensions, financial burdens, busy schedules. When your customers reach out, it’s likely they’re juggling a lot. In the midst of the busyness, delivering fast and efficient service is synonymous with extending empathy to customers.

Seasoned customer service agents understand that most grumpy customers are simply having a bad day — it’s not personal. To provide the best support during this time, coach your agents to start each customer interaction with empathetic calm and focus on fast solutions.

This time of year, focus on your customer by prioritizing action and resolution over warm fuzzies. It’s okay to forego wishing someone a “Happy Tuesday!” and striking up a conversation about last nights’ football game. Instead, focus on your customers by calmly getting them a fast resolution to their problems.

Be proactive in communicating with customers

Christmas is a time for showing appreciation to your customers. So, why not be proactive in helping your customers? Proactive customer service is all about action. It’s customer service that anticipates the customer needs and offers solutions before issues lead to embittered interactions.

To do proactive customer service well, you must know your customers. Take some time to look through the data in your contact center and sift through your past customer surveys. Assess what the primary issues are that your customers deal with. Then, reach out! Send an email notification to all customers with some helpful tips. Or, make it more personal by assigning each agent a list of customers to email.

Use your data intentionally so customers feel seen, so you can anticipate issues, and so you can lessen the number of customers reaching out during the busy holiday weeks.

Automate wherever possible

Automation works best when used to enrich, not replace, your customers’ human-to-human experiences. You don’t have to use automation to take the place of your agents through the holidays. Instead, when you use it strategically, you can keep focus on your customer and free up your agents to care for more complex customer interactions.

Automate simple tasks in your cloud contact center platform, like sending coaching tips to agents, organizing customer data into clear reports, and routing calls to get customers help promptly. Integrate automation into your live chats and your IVR system to offer self-service options to customers on every channel.

Invest in your agents

Let’s just admit it: working through the holidays is a bummer. If you want your agents to deliver high quality work in the midst of the holidays, you have to acknowledge that your agents are sacrificing time with family and friends to be at work. The holiday season requires that you be more flexible and creative to maintain customer focus and still invest in your agents.

Consider some of the following ways you can engage your agents during the holidays:

  • Offer incentives for working less-desirable shifts and make sure employees that work them are recognized. Maybe offer bonus pay, gift cards, or a free dinner to encourage agents to take shifts that are difficult to staff. And, be accommodating and flexible to your employees’ needs so they can be with family and friends when they need to be.
  • Encourage employee wellness. After the last two years we’ve had, everyone needs a mental health day here and there. Your agents aren’t going to be able to deliver good service or focus on each customer if they’re burnt out. If you have the ability to give employees a day off to breathe, do so.
  • Embrace the holiday spirit. Make work fun! Play holiday games during lunch breaks. Do a holiday raffle. Have a secret Santa gift exchange.