To many, the holidays are a time of joy, celebration, and relaxation. For those in the customer service industry, however, the holidays represent a time of surging support tickets for product inquiries, rush deliveries, refund requests, and more. Starting on Black Friday and continuing through December and into the new year, increased customer support demand can be less than joyful.
Thankfully, customer support teams have options to make the holiday season both successful and rewarding. From hiring seasonal staff, to boosting the online educational resources, to implementing machine learning applications, there are many ways to make the holiday season a little brighter in the support world.
Hiring seasonal help
Many support managers choose to hire temporary staff during the holiday season. If you have the budget, this can be a solid way to answer far more incoming service tickets than you could with your current staff. Be sure to hire early enough to train your temporary employees in any software or technology before the holiday rush.
However, keep in mind that while hiring seasonal staff can lessen the burden on your more experienced employees, it can also create the need to spend time training new hires on an unfamiliar system. This can put additional stress on team members who are already dealing with limited time and resources.
As an alternative — or perhaps in addition to — hiring more staff, making use of automated replies can be a big help when it comes to stanching the flood of incoming support tickets. After all, taking away the need to spend time manually responding to the same questions over and over can save your team valuable time and energy they could invest elsewhere.
Support systems like Zendesk and Salesforce offer the ability to create canned responses triggered by certain words or phrases, such as “forgot password.” These types of triggers and automated replies can significantly reduce the time agents need to spend responding to tickets, but likely won’t remove the the need for extra personalization.
Intelligent knowledge base
When savvy customers have questions or need help, they often attempt to search for answers themselves before trying to contact the customer support center directly. That’s where it’s helpful to have online Q&A pages, education centers, or an intelligent knowledge base where customers can search for their own answers. Including articles about how to update passwords, explaining expedited shipping costs, and thoroughly detailing your return policies can solve current or prospective customer problems. This type of preemptive solution center can also prevent customers from sending unnecessary support queries.
Another option for supporting your customers involves working with a crowd-sourced option, such as Directly. This type of on-demand customer care helps unburden your support staff by directing incoming questions to other skilled users — people who volunteer their knowledge of your site and purchase processes. This way, customers can get expert help in minutes with a solution that doesn’t involve your own team. If issues are more involved or the skilled users can’t solve the problem, the tickets escalate to in-house agents.
Machine learning applications
Perhaps the most high-tech and longterm option is incorporating machine learning applications into your customer service platform. This takes the idea of automated replies a step further with quick, intelligent resolutions based on recurring patterns in past customer behavior. This information is used to create augmented solutions — that is, support solutions that work to make human activity more productive, efficient, and rewarding.
Wise.io offers machine learning applications that easily integrate into existing support platforms, providing solutions such as:
- Recommending smart responses. Machine learning applications like Wise monitor all responses from your best agents in order to learn the most effective answers to common customer inquiries. Then, they recommend the best templates to use whenever similar tickets come in. These recommendations can reveal tried-and-true solutions, help agents work more quickly, and even train seasonal hires more effectively.
- Reducing response times. When there’s a constant flood of incoming messages, reduced response times help agents get through their backlogs more quickly while satisfying customers with fast answers.
- Sending intelligent automatic responses. Once machine learning applications confidently learn the best answers to a particular query, they respond to common tickets with automatic replies. Quick and consistent responses to customers helps boost CSAT while also liberating your agents from manually responding to the same questions over and over again.
Machine learning apps are effectively “plug and play,” with options to implement the applications when needed during ticket spikes without any need for developers or data scientists. Over time, the applications continue to learn and improve — so much so that you may decide to leave them turned on all the time, even after the holiday rush has subsided.
As you approach the holidays, consider new ways to beat the holiday rush with smart solutions like machine learning. Wise.io builds intelligent automation applications that can help improve time to response, respond to repetitive inquiries, and maintain a seamless customer experience.
Learn more about machine learning’s positive impact on CSAT by downloading our ebook.