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5 Customer Service Tips to Avoid Scrooge-Like Behavior

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Retailers love the holiday shopping season, and with good reason. It's the time of year when many businesses take in a large portion of their overall revenue -- national holiday sales last year alone surpassed $600 billion.

While an increase in sales is great for the bottom line, the holiday season also means an increase in customer interactions, which unfortunately doesn't always result in glad tidings or great joy. A recent survey by CorvisaCloud and uSamp found that more than two-thirds (69 percent) of consumers said customer service was worse during the holiday season than the rest of the year.

Related: Holiday Hiring By the Numbers (Infographic)

Ensure your business isn't guilty of Scrooge-like behavior. Follow these tips to spread customer cheer during the holidays and all year round:

1. Shorten hold times

Hold times are often triggered by issues such as inflexible phone systems that can't scale to handle fluctuating call volumes, improper staffing or utilization of staff, or poorly structured call menus. By decreasing hold times, customers will feel better serviced and may even spread the news about how impressed they were with the experience.

2. Staff up to meet demand

According to the survey, more consumers (46 percent) said they were more likely to call with a customer service question the week after Christmas. Take a look at historical data to better understand when spikes are most likely to occur in your business. Use this knowledge to staff accordingly or implement technology that can handle unexpected surges in demand, making sure you are covered when the phones begin to ring off the hook.

3. Embrace the season

Who knew? Underneath that Grinch-like exterior is a real person who actually likes holiday music. About half (48 percent) of consumers said they prefer holiday music when placed on hold. Just make sure they don't have to hear it for more than a few minutes -- one-third (32 percent) indicated they would hang up when on hold for more than five minutes.

Related: 5 Tips to a Stress-Free Holiday in Your Business

4. Give the gift of resolution

Get customers to the right person, right away. Make sure your staff has the needed information at their fingertips, without having to flip through numerous screens or scripts. The goal is to provide a personalized service experience that speaks to the needs of the customer.

5. Be of good cheer

It turns out your customers are in the holiday spirit after all. In fact, one-third (35 percent) of survey respondents voted "Happy Holidays" as the number-one phrase that warms their heart.

Although they may have had some bad customer service experiences in the past -- almost two-thirds (64 percent) acknowledged losing their temper with a customer service agent within the past year -- one good experience can turn it all around.

Make sure your staff has smiles on their faces (and in their voices) by equipping them with the knowledge and tools they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. These improved interactions will, in turn, give your customers a new attitude about holiday customer service, resulting in good tidings for you and your company.

Related: 6 Ways to Increase the Success of Your Holiday-Email-Marketing Campaign

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