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Develop a holiday customer service strategy

Consumers with long shopping lists aren't the only ones under pressure during the holiday season.

Consumers with long shopping lists aren't the only ones under pressure during the holiday season. The companies that field customers' concerns and attend to their needs also deal with considerable stress at this time of year – and employees in customer service roles often bear the bulk of the weight.

As such, it's vital that managers put strategies in place to help ensure all goes smoothly, both for customers and often-overtaxed staff.

The holiday customer service crunch
From late November well into the new year, dealing with the sheer volume of customer complaints and requests can be quite demanding. Managers have to perform the difficult balancing act of making sure all customers are attended to without straining their employees – and success in this endeavor is far from assured.

Corvisa Cloud recently enlisted the help of Zogby Analytics to perform a study that investigated customer experience during the holidays. The researchers found that a considerable segment – 25 percent – of customers were more likely to interact with companies' service or call centers during this time period, but 45 percent of consumers felt customer service standards worsened.

Incentives for retail personnel
In light of how difficult customer service can be during November and December, some retail firms have put employee incentive programs in place to make sure hard work doesn't go under the radar – especially for staff members who work on the holidays themselves.

Those rewards go beyond additional pay. ABC News 10 reported that Walmart, for example, plans to give employees who work on Thanksgiving a full turkey dinner during their shifts, while Toys R Us intends to feed its workers and let them don casual attire.

Strategies like these can help establish an overarching culture of employee recognition. Meanwhile, managers can tailor their reward and recognition programs to the specific needs and strengths of their staff.

Take the stress out of customer service
In addition to employee reward programs, there are many effective strategies managers can adopt to ensure that workers have the support and encouragement they need to provide customers world-class service during the holidays.

In a column for CMS Wire, marketing strategist Marisa Peacock discussed the importance of maintaining clarity among staff, keeping them fully informed and engaged while also ensuring that they feel appreciated.

"Whether you are hiring seasonal staff or working with full-time employees, all staff members should be clear about the roles they play in achieving company goals. And everyone should be rewarded for their hard work," Peacock wrote.

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