[JOIN IN] Hang Out with Hot Chocolate: Managing Customer Service During the Holidays ☕

  • 1 December 2021
  • 79 replies
  • 1512 views
[JOIN IN] Hang Out with Hot Chocolate: Managing Customer Service During the Holidays ☕
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Our next Coffee Chat session is happening on Tuesday, 7, December at 11 AM EST.


In keeping with the season, we’re calling our discussion Hang Out with Hot Chocolate and we’ll be discussing a topic in line with the season as well: managing Customer Service During the Holidays. 


Grab a cup and join us as we talk about five key segments:

  1. How far ahead should customer service teams and leads begin planning for the holiday rush?

  2. How has your team prepped to meet the changes in demands around customer expectations during this time?

  3. How can customer service managers prevent and address increased stress/burnout among their teams during this time?

  4. What are some lessons and insights from previous years that have helped customer service teams perform better during the holiday season? 

  5. What is key towards managing both customer and employee satisfaction during the holidays?

  6. Lastly, how can teams/individuals best take advantage of a holiday “lull” - the proverbial calm before the storm. (Tag, @manns when you answer this particular question, he’s looking forward to your responses)


79 replies

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Last question for today! This one is @manns favorite question.  

Q6.  How can teams/individuals best take advantage of a holiday “lull” - the proverbial calm before the storm. (Tag, @manns when you answer this particular question, he’s looking forward to your responses)

if you are answering this question Q6, start your answer with A6 and use the quote the option

A6. My reason for throwing this one in is that I’m a believer in “work expanding to fit the time.” So, while we can focus planning on when workloads go through the roof, there will also be times when we can spend time on improvements (or simply planning for the rushes). This might be undertaking training, creating new knowledge articles for (new) CS staff, testing escalation paths, improving self-help capabilities, or other investments that will help individuals, operations, and customer outcomes. The important thing is to try to carve out the time to do these things in the “lulls” even when we seem busy. Even if it means saying “no” to less important work or finding ways to get that work done more quickly (or elsewhere) such that the improvement investment can then pay dividends going forward. Especially during the holiday rush!

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Where can I join?

 

 

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Where can I join?

 

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Last question for today! This one is @manns favorite question.  

Q6.  How can teams/individuals best take advantage of a holiday “lull” - the proverbial calm before the storm. (Tag, @manns when you answer this particular question, he’s looking forward to your responses)

if you are answering this question Q6, start your answer with A6 and use the quote the option

@akshara.sruthi thanks for including this :)

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Where can I join?

@Vanderson just start on page 1 and reply to the messages as you see fit :)

 

I’m running late so concentrating on the questions where I can offer answers first.

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Fourth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q4, start your answer with A4 and use the quote the option
 

Q4 What are some lessons and insights from previous years that have helped customer service teams perform better during the holiday season? 

A4. There are many - and sometimes it’s the simplest things that work. For example, having employee-centric policies on holiday working. Some employees need and want to spend time with family, while others might be keen to work extra to pay for the costs of the holidays. It might seem like a good way to balance the scheduling books but what about the personal impact on the latter employees? Not only in terms of their wellbeing but also their performance. So set caps on extra working to protect those who want to work more than they can actually take (I hope this makes sense).

Another is protecting CS staff from angry callers - maybe due to holiday-impacting issues such as delivery delays or having to wait in a queue for way too long. Here, CS staff should be empowered to call out the customer behavior (and I’m often one of those bad customers) by stating that the organization wants to protect them from abuse and that the call will be terminated if the abuse continues.

I could keep going but here’s one final one - using technology to take the strain more. Whether self-help and self-service capabilities or the use of automation (including intelligent automation) to augment CS staff capabilities. It’s hopefully the “better, faster, cheaper” than most business functions need.

Great points, Stephen! These are simple but crucial initiatives that can definitely help a lot of people/ businesses during the holidays. 

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Where can I join?

Hey @Vanderson! Welcome to the coffee chat. You can participate here. The live chat-session just got done. You can however, post your thoughts for these questions. It will be here in this thread and certainly be useful to all of us:

 

Use the quote option and answer them. I look forward to reading all your responses. 
 

  1. How far ahead should customer service teams and leads begin planning for the holiday rush?
  1. How has your team prepped to meet the changes in demands around customer expectations during this time?
  1. How can customer service managers prevent and address increased stress/burnout among their teams during this time?
  1. What are some lessons and insights from previous years that have helped customer service teams perform better during the holiday season? 
  1. What is key towards managing both customer and employee satisfaction during the holidays?
  1. Lastly, how can teams/individuals best take advantage of a holiday “lull” - the proverbial calm before the storm. (Tag, @manns when you answer this particular question, he’s looking forward to your responses)

 

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Fifth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q5, start your answer with A5 and use the quote the option
 

Q5: What is key towards managing both customer and employee satisfaction during the holidays?

A5. My longer answer is:

  1. Ensuring that lessons learned from previous years have been brought into BAU operations
  2. Planning for all eventualities such that as many issues can be anticipated and fixes found before they happen (based on probability and impact of course)
  3. Using feedback - from both customers and employees - to try to course correct on the fly
  4. Empowering CS personnel by giving them some leeway when following policies and processes - this will help to get a win-win rather than one side of the engagement “losing”

I’m sure there’s more but I started late to the chat :)

Where can I join?

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Fifth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q5, start your answer with A5 and use the quote the option
 

Q5: What is key towards managing both customer and employee satisfaction during the holidays?

A5. My quick answer is trying to make it such that everyone wins rather than one party at the expense of the other.

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Fourth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q4, start your answer with A4 and use the quote the option
 

Q4 What are some lessons and insights from previous years that have helped customer service teams perform better during the holiday season? 

A4. There are many - and sometimes it’s the simplest things that work. For example, having employee-centric policies on holiday working. Some employees need and want to spend time with family, while others might be keen to work extra to pay for the costs of the holidays. It might seem like a good way to balance the scheduling books but what about the personal impact on the latter employees? Not only in terms of their wellbeing but also their performance. So set caps on extra working to protect those who want to work more than they can actually take (I hope this makes sense).

Another is protecting CS staff from angry callers - maybe due to holiday-impacting issues such as delivery delays or having to wait in a queue for way too long. Here, CS staff should be empowered to call out the customer behavior (and I’m often one of those bad customers) by stating that the organization wants to protect them from abuse and that the call will be terminated if the abuse continues.

I could keep going but here’s one final one - using technology to take the strain more. Whether self-help and self-service capabilities or the use of automation (including intelligent automation) to augment CS staff capabilities. It’s hopefully the “better, faster, cheaper” than most business functions need.

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It was a great session today chatting away about customer service during the holidays. Feel free to keep the conversation going everyone! Thank you so much, @Lea France@finn@BrendaM@Sean.Daly@DaniCSI@Alice@n.winslow@TheresaDorr and @manns for joining us for our last coffee chat in 2021.

Shout-out to @rhea.desouza, my friend and colleague for helping me co-host this event. 

See you again with another edition next year! Until then, stay safe, take care, and happy holidays 🎉

        

If you enjoyed this, make sure to tune into to our upcoming happy hour with @manns! Sign up here and catch him live: https://www.freshworks.com/events/happy-hour-with-stephen-mann/

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Last question for today! This one is @manns favorite question.  

Q6.  How can teams/individuals best take advantage of a holiday “lull” - the proverbial calm before the storm. (Tag, @manns when you answer this particular question, he’s looking forward to your responses)

if you are answering this question Q6, start your answer with A6 and use the quote the option

@manns, I think indulging in a bit self-care is much needed. With the pandemic set-in, people loose the number of hours spent in front of the screen. Having a very strong routine to manage to do things you love might make you a little prepared to face a storm imo. 

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I have to go now, but thank you everyone for the great details and ideas you have shared!  I learned a lot!  We only installed Freshdesk about 4 weeks ago, so I am still in the learning process.  I really appreciate the sharing of information.  Hope you all have a great rest of your day and week!  :)

Thank you so much, Lea! Welcome to the Freshworks family

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A3

Setting expectations, in advance, about what a season will bring may help prepare the team and even prevent “burn-out”. To me, the customer service role should be fun as you get to solve challenges (problems) and help others.

 

I prepare my teams with what to expect and provide role-play and training on how to handle difficult situations. When they successfully manage difficult tickets, they should feel recharged and successful. Hence, one way to avoid burn-out.

 

We discuss the types of situations and the people reach out for help and discuss what is happening in the customer’s world. Do they need help now? Do they have pressure on them to get a job done quickly but our software is slowing them down? And try to create empathy for the customers.

 

In preparation, we acknowledge that some customers are friendly, others grateful and others challenging. By providing role play and tools for each situations and helping the service team turn a challenging customer into a fan, is a great goal to set and support. And can revitalize the team.

 

We can’t be everything to everyone HOWEVER we can respond with understanding, honesty and compassion.

When tools for working with challenging customers are provided, the results can be energizing and rewarding on its own. Thus, revitalizing the representative and fending off burn-out. They can get charged and excited to help the next person.

 

At times, our team will laugh at customer situations and customer frustrations. When that happens, I feel we fell short. Instead, when challenging customer stories are shared, it would be nice to work as a team on ideas of how we could improve on that customer’s experience with us. I feel that when I speak to a representative and even when they can’t help, if they listened and shared that they understood, I still felt it was a good experience. And I am energized!

That’s a very honest answer from you. In retrospect, sometimes frustrations may be unreasonable or even funny - at those times you’re right, we all fall short to feel their pain. But at the end of the day, speaking about what did not go well goes a long way and helps fellow agents respond/handle situations better. 

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I have to go now, but thank you everyone for the great details and ideas you have shared!  I learned a lot!  We only installed Freshdesk about 4 weeks ago, so I am still in the learning process.  I really appreciate the sharing of information.  Hope you all have a great rest of your day and week!  :)

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Third question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q3, start your answer with A3 and use the quote the option
 

Q3: How can customer service managers prevent and address increased stress/burnout among their teams during this time?

A3. For me there are strategic and tactical responses needed. Ideally there are already mechanisms in place to understand workload levels, contributing factors, and how employees are faring at work. These are the strategic approaches to employee wellbeing that include “pulse”-type surveys, wellbeing education for all (and even more more leaders), mechanisms for spotting issues, initiatives to prevent issues, etc. Then there are the tactical uplifts employed during times of peak workloads and potential stress.

I love the phrase “It’s OK to not be OK” and it takes strong and focused leadership to ensure that their people are first well looked after and second comfortable in speaking up about their issues (and issues they see elsewhere).

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A3

Setting expectations, in advance, about what a season will bring may help prepare the team and even prevent “burn-out”. To me, the customer service role should be fun as you get to solve challenges (problems) and help others.

 

I prepare my teams with what to expect and provide role-play and training on how to handle difficult situations. When they successfully manage difficult tickets, they should feel recharged and successful. Hence, one way to avoid burn-out.

 

We discuss the types of situations and the people reach out for help and discuss what is happening in the customer’s world. Do they need help now? Do they have pressure on them to get a job done quickly but our software is slowing them down? And try to create empathy for the customers.

 

In preparation, we acknowledge that some customers are friendly, others grateful and others challenging. By providing role play and tools for each situations and helping the service team turn a challenging customer into a fan, is a great goal to set and support. And can revitalize the team.

 

We can’t be everything to everyone HOWEVER we can respond with understanding, honesty and compassion.

When tools for working with challenging customers are provided, the results can be energizing and rewarding on its own. Thus, revitalizing the representative and fending off burn-out. They can get charged and excited to help the next person.

 

At times, our team will laugh at customer situations and customer frustrations. When that happens, I feel we fell short. Instead, when challenging customer stories are shared, it would be nice to work as a team on ideas of how we could improve on that customer’s experience with us. I feel that when I speak to a representative and even when they can’t help, if they listened and shared that they understood, I still felt it was a good experience. And I am energized!

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Last question for today! This one is @manns favorite question.  

Q6.  How can teams/individuals best take advantage of a holiday “lull” - the proverbial calm before the storm. (Tag, @manns when you answer this particular question, he’s looking forward to your responses)

if you are answering this question Q6, start your answer with A6 and use the quote the option

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Hey everyone! Welcome to our coffee chat: Managing Customer Service During the Holidays. 

First question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q1, start your answer with A1 and use the quote the option
 

Q1 How far ahead should customer service teams and leads begin planning for the holiday rush?

A1. (part 2) The continued pandemic-related struggles also add to the complexity of planning right now - with uncertainty over people’s health and availability. So, for me, it’s a case of plan as early as possible and review-and-revise as we get closer to the rush. I’m sure the extra time spent planning will be less than the time and pain incurred by firefighting.

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Fourth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q4, start your answer with A4 and use the quote the option
 

Q4 What are some lessons and insights from previous years that have helped customer service teams perform better during the holiday season? 

A4: Written documents are life saving! Last year we had nothing on workflows or project maps. Now we are ready to deal with any enormous change. The only thing we have to do is updating the documents 🙂 I think that Fresh provides very useful tools on the help desk. Dashboard announcement, solutions, forums, etc made difference!

Great to see another fan for user docs and guides. It’s a such a game changer. 

We are creating SOPs, both written and videos to have on hand.

Well done you! 

Userlevel 7
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Hey everyone! Welcome to our coffee chat: Managing Customer Service During the Holidays. 

First question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q1, start your answer with A1 and use the quote the option
 

Q1 How far ahead should customer service teams and leads begin planning for the holiday rush?

A1. I guess it depends on a number of factors. From an organization’s risk appetite, through the business impact of CS “failures,” to teh number of holiday rushes each year. At one end of the spectrum, there’s the “let’s plan for next month based on last year” approach. At the other, there’s a continual need to prepare for the next holiday rush that brings in improvement opportunities each time a rush is experienced. So, as a consultant would say, “It depends” ;)

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Fifth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q5, start your answer with A5 and use the quote the option
 

Q5: What is key towards managing both customer and employee satisfaction during the holidays?

A5: Prioritize employee health, especially if the things heat up during the holiday season -- ensure that agent concerns are addressed well ahead of time, they have an open space to offer feedback, and automate where possible and feasible to save agents time. At the end of the day, do everything and anything that is right for the customer and the employee. A couple of things that can be done: 

1. If your employee is out of office, make sure auto-responders go out to emails that go the particular rep’s inbox
2. Set expectations that can be met. Under promise and over-deliver to make sure customers don’t get frustrated. 

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Fourth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q4, start your answer with A4 and use the quote the option
 

Q4 What are some lessons and insights from previous years that have helped customer service teams perform better during the holiday season? 

A4: Written documents are life saving! Last year we had nothing on workflows or project maps. Now we are ready to deal with any enormous change. The only thing we have to do is updating the documents 🙂 I think that Fresh provides very useful tools on the help desk. Dashboard announcement, solutions, forums, etc made difference!

Great to see another fan for user docs and guides. It’s a such a game changer. 

We are creating SOPs, both written and videos to have on hand.

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Fifth question for today is here below. To answer a question, tag the answer with the corresponding number. For example, if you are answering this question Q5, start your answer with A5 and use the quote the option
 

Q5: What is key towards managing both customer and employee satisfaction during the holidays?

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