For many companies, the summer season means one thing: long, long holidays with nothing to do except laze on the beach. Just kidding! In actual fact, summer season is prime time for discounts, promotions, and sales galore. This, in addition to seasonal trends (such as staff vacations, school holidays, and related supply/distribution disruption), as well as Covid-related difficulties, can create extra pressure on your sales and support staff. Do you have to simply strap in tight and hope for the best – or is there a way for businesses to prepare?
In a word: yes! This guide will show you how to anticipate - and handle - seasonal support spikes in a few simple steps.
Handling Seasonal Spikes, Step #1: Create a Comprehensive Knowledge Hub
It’s easy to think that blogs, guides, and community hubs are merely an effective marketing tool (and it’s true, they do tick that box) – but in actual fact one of the biggest bonuses of developing a comprehensive resource library is the time it will save your team. FAQs, knowledge bases, a regularly-updated blog: these are all tools that will allow you to answer common customer queries without tying up your staff.
Your customer support team will be valuable here – so don’t be afraid to put your marketing department in touch with those on the 'front line’. They can alert you to the most commonly asked questions or issues that crop up. In addition, prior to running any promotion, analyse the intel you gathered during previous sales – and pay attention to areas of friction. Use this to create online resources for your customers and upload these in advance of the summer sale (be sure to signpost the information clearly and design a hub that is easy to navigate, too).
You may wish to update your contact page or invest in a livechat service, too, to ease pressure and improve response times.
Handling Seasonal Spikes, Step #2: Automate
When thinking of ways to ease pressure, increased automation has to be near the top of the list. The good news is that automation innovations don't have to cost the earth – particularly if you approach them judiciously.
Mine the data before you make changes: resources like the Billsby Dashboard, which collates lots of valuable business insights in one easy-to-access place, will help you identify where automation will be useful for your business (for example, during the last busy period did you get complaints which related to long response times? If so, you need to find a way to proactively communicate the potential for delay to your customers, in order that their expectations are managed – see the ‘Consider auto replies’ tip below).
If you’re investing in livechat, an automated ‘bot’ service – which handles simple enquiries but can still save tons of time – is both effective and affordable.
Email templates – which answer the most obvious queries – can also save your team time and stress. Ensure that these are relevant, up to date, and easy to access before announcing any new sales.
Consider auto replies. If you are experiencing longer response times or wait times on your phonelines, set up a recorded message or an email responder that politely lets your customers to know what they can expect.
Handling Seasonal Spikes, Step #3: Set Your Team Up for Success
When it comes to customer support, there’s an essential fact you mustn’t forget (at least in our humble opinion) - which is this: you can put millions of clever processes in place to try to improve customer service, but if your team isn’t happy, it’ll mean diddly-squat.
Things will happen. Another true statement. You cannot predict every single scenario that your team will encounter, or the challenges they’ll face. What you can do, however, is to find ways to balance the increased pressure of their workload with empathy, kindness, and rewards. Encourage your managers and supervisors to keep track of their staff – and urge them to step in if they notice a team member that is in danger of burnout. Boost morale with thoughtful rewards – bonuses for achieving goals and competitions with a creative focus – and team-bonding gestures (company bowling nights or pizza Fridays, anyone?). And empower your team members to offer quick solutions that won’t cost the company much, but will make a big difference to their working day: a small gift voucher to an unhappy customer, for example.
In times like these, a little kindness goes a long way – so spend some time thinking of creative ways to motivate and reward your staff, and not only will you reap the benefits in terms of improved service levels, but also you’ll be the kind of boss that employees love to work for.
Keen to enhance your customer satisfaction scores all year round? Billsby’s range of sophisticated analytical tools (included as standard with any Billsby account) help you stay on top of trends and proactively maintain an excellent customer experience. Begin your Billsby journey today by signing up for a free trial – there’s so much to discover!