Service Shouldn't Take a Back Seat During the Holidays

Customer Experience
Despite the increase in traffic, retailers need to make sure that their service still shines during the holiday season.

The holiday season has officially started and brands are doing their utmost to attract customers to their stores--whether brick-and-mortar or online--to spread the cheer by spending their cash.
For weeks retailers have been promoting their various offers in order to get a competitive edge and appeal to customers' desire to strike a good deal. This will ensure volume but the question is: Will service suffer?

While retailers hope to see increased traffic, they need to be well prepared. And this doesn't simply mean making sure they have the stock to sell. They also have to make sure they are properly staffed. Further, it's not just about having the right number of people to restock shelves, man the checkout counter, and answer the phones. As we mentioned last week, these frontline employees need to be properly trained to deal with the expected increase in business and still be able to deliver a great service experience that will make customers come back.

"From a service standpoint, brands tend to struggle during the holiday season," says David Baker, senior vice president for North America sales at Servion.

And long lines that irate customers aren't only present in stores. Contact centers also suffer during this time of the year. But Baker believes that organizations can reduce the problem by bolstering their IVR solution. "Many organizations invest in training, even of seasonal employees, but nobody takes the time to update their IVR," he says.

Further, investing in a robust IVR system can also help organizations financially by reducing the number of employees needed to man the phones. Baker shares the following three improvements that organizations should consider adding to their IVR systems:

1. Offer call-backs: Nobody enjoys spending a long time waiting to be transferred to an agent and this tends to customers being seriously irritated by the time they actually get to speak to a human. Offering a call-back option will get them off the phone and back to their lives, knowing that someone will be calling them back.

2. Implement CTI: Customers hate having to repeat themselves. Computer Telephony Integration will transfer data entered into the IVR to the agent. Not only does this save time, but it also improves the customer experience.

3. Allow customers to make orders through the IVR: Not only does this remove the need for customers with simple orders talking to an agent, but it could improve security by reducing the need for customers to share their billing details with an agent.

Holiday deals help increase sales. But it's only good service that will keep customers coming back once the promotions are over.