Article

Is your customer support team ready this holiday season?

Don’t leave your customers on hold this holiday season. With the gift of fast, friendly service, you can help them get back to the things that matter most.

By Maggie Mazzetti, Content Marketing Manager

Published November 12, 2020
Last updated November 12, 2020

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — unless you’re sitting on hold with a customer service department.

No customer wants to be stuck on the phone this holiday season, or passed from agent to agent as they try to find answers. It’s a quick way to end up on anyone’s naughty list, so companies should do what they can to help their customers spend less time trying to solve their issue and more time with the things (and people!) that matter most.

Deck the halls, with rising support requests

Customer service has been anything but normal this year. Home-bound customers have been interacting with companies in new and different ways, and support teams have been managing a holiday-like rush for most of the year, all while many have been working from home.

With the holidays fast approaching, even the most seasoned teams will want to take stock of their support operations and make sure they’re well prepared for whatever the season may bring. Online retailers were managing 50 percent more customer tickets in August than they did the previous year, while traditional retailers have seen a 23 percent bump.

Self-service adoption is up 106 percent among traditional retailers who have successfully kept resolution times stable this year.

Which channels are seeing the biggest jumps? Customers are flocking to online help centers, where views are up more than 40 percent. And WhatsApp use has jumped nearly 300 percent during the pandemic, with chat and text also rising in popularity.

The holidays are traditionally the busiest time of the year, but with so many retailers already managing a rush, it’s worth looking at where they’ve seen the most success:

  • Help yourself

    Self-service adoption is up 106 percent among traditional retailers who have successfully kept resolution times stable this year. By letting customers find answers themselves, these retailers are saving them from having to reach out in the first place and keeping agents focused on more complex problems.

    More than half of those retailers who already have a help center in place are adding new content and dedicating more agents to the effort.

  • Let’s chat

    Chat support solves customer issues in real time, which means it’s a great way to keep resolution times low. And though messaging has seen a massive boost in popularity, chat remains one of the most popular ways for customers to connect with retailers.

    Chat support adoption among retailers who have managed to keep resolution times from rising rose 10.3 percent since February. And nearly a third of those who already have the channel saw a significant bump in ticket volumes over chat, more than any other channel.

  • Keeping it efficient

    When ticket volume is high, it’s helpful to have a streamlined support operation. This means that tickets are getting to the right people, simple tasks are automated, and agents can access the resources they need in scalable and repeatable ways.

    Retailers that are keeping things efficient have increased their use of such workflow management tools by 11 percent since February. They’ve also increased their use of in-house or third party apps (available through the Zendesk Marketplace), which can help add further functionality for support teams.

‘Tis the season for change

Despite the surge in messaging tickets, retailers haven’t been as quick to adopt these new channels, even as other sectors have jumped on board. Why not?

Lower adoption rates, even as customers flock to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, suggest that teams new to messaging may be unsure about how to get started. Or they may not know how to integrate these channels into their larger support strategies.

Retailers must continue to evolve if they want to continue to meet the changing needs and preferences of their customers. Those waiting for things to “go back to normal” will almost certainly get left behind.

With a holistic look at where your customers are and where they need you to be, as well as how you can better streamline your internal workflows, retailers can be better prepared for the holiday season and whatever comes next.