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5 Good Customer Service Skills for the Holiday Season

7 min read
Oct 19, 2016
Good customer service skills

Good customer service leads to good business results. There’s no denying that. And to get good customer service, you need a team of dedicated agents with the right set of good customer service skills.

There’s a lot of customer service skills agents should pick up when working with customers online and offline. However, some of those skills will be more useful than others during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

You still have some time to get ready and to run a couple extra agent training sessions to boost the right skills. See What abilities you should focus on to get your business smoothly through the Holidays.

Good customer service skills: Working under pressure

The holiday shopping season is the rush hour of the year when it comes to online sales. This means a lot of customers and a lot of chats, calls and emails. During the peak hours, you will have much more contacts to handle than on a normal day. That kind of pressure can get to you really quickly if you don’t manage it well.

Apart from using our innate abilities to handle pressure and stress, it’s good if you can disconnect from your work, even for a bit. Taking a five minute break will help you more than it will slow you down. Even though you won’t handle customers cases during that time, you will be able to double your efforts when you get back.

Managers should also take pressure into consideration and plan for some distractions that will relieve the stress levels in the whole team. Anthony Ramirez, Director of Customer Service and Support at Mixbook, suggests that managers could organize some fun activities like raffles, dinner parties or contests for the best positive customer service results.

Good customer service skills: Prioritization

The time you’ve spent improving your time management skills will pay huge dividends during the holiday shopping season. Clawing those extra couple minutes of time will allow you not only to have the occasional break but also to get more cases covered.

One of the most important parts of your time management skills should be the ability to prioritize. You should take a couple things into consideration when picking the next case you’re going to handle:

  1. How long has a customer waited for an answer?
  2. How long will it take to solve the case?
  3. How painful is the problem for the customer?

It’s best if you can handle the oldest cases first. This will allow you to avoid forgetting about a customer whose case got pushed back further and further with each new chat, call or email.

It’s also good if you can focus on cases that can be resolved in one touch. For example, if there’s a really complex case that takes 30 minutes of solid work to handle, it’s better to leave it for later and solve five other cases. This way, you won’t leave five customers waiting while you tackle the difficult case. One way to get around this would be to have one person in your team that takes on only the most difficult cases. Whenever someone encounters a case like that, they could forward it to the expert agent and go back to one-touch cases.

And finally, you should also consider how painful a particular problem is. Some problems will cause more havoc than others. For example, if you have someone who can’t finish an order because of some weird browser glitch, their case should take the priority over a customer who wanted to ask how big of a discount you’re offering or one who want’s to ask about your shipping.

All in all, it’s a balancing game. You need to take into consideration all the different factors to maximize the number of cases you’re able to handle within a limited amount of time without sacrificing contact quality.

Good customer service skills: Communication skills

In your efforts to speed up your work, you should also make sure you’re communicating in a way that’s easy to understand. You don’t want to leave your customers trying to figure our what you meant. Simple communication is key.

Use short sentences and plain language. It makes everything easier to understand and faster. Using simple language will also comes in handy when dealing with non-native speakers.

You should also try to use as much of the customer’s language as possible. For example, if they described a particular feature on your page in their own words, don’t try to correct them. Use the same name they used. It doesn’t matter if they know all the terminology as long as they make a sale.

When trying to figure out what communication style you should use, once again, you should go with the customer’s lead. If they are very formal, you shouldn’t try to crack a joke or use casual language. It works the other way around too: if they are joking themselves or they are using some informal language, you get some leeway with the language you can use.

You can test communication skills (and other customer service skills) in our Customer Service Quiz, enjoy!

Good customer service skills: Teamwork

The holiday shopping season is the most difficult test of the year for any customer service team. Working together can make it a lot easier so it makes sense to build the team spirit up and work on team coordination.

One of the areas when teamwork comes into play is covering longer office hours. Any business would like to sell as much as possible during the holiday shopping season. And one of the ways to do that is to offer longer office hours to answer more customers and close more sales. On average, businesses will over 30 minutes more of customer service coverage. To cover the extra hours, some sacrifices have to be made. For example, the evening or night shift puts a lot of strain on a person’s life if they normally work only during the day. If you end up providing service during those hours, you should rotate agents every now and then so there’s no one person that gets only the worst shifts.

Agents should also pass cases to the person that’s best suited to solve it. Everyone in the team should be aware of each others abilities and expertise so that cases move through customer service as fast as possible.

Good customer service skills: Fast typing

Quick typing skills speed up any kind of online customer service. Whether you handle chats, tickets or emails, churning out more words per minute will speed up your work. It’s especially important if you’re working on live chat as fast typing can turn into entire hours of extra service.

Typing practice takes time, but the faster you start, the faster you will see some results. Start allocating some time during the day to practice your typing skills on one of the online typing practice websites like kebyr.com.

If you want to see how much you’ve improved, you can do a typing speed test that will tell you how many words per minute you’re able to type in.

Getting ready for the Holiday Season

There’s still some time to get ready. We’re one month away from the dates like the Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Polishing your customer service skills up may just be the thing that will get you through the holiday shopping craze.

If you like to have all the bases covered, you should check out our Customer Service Report. The report includes a checklist of all the things you can do to get your business ready for hundreds of customers going to your website.

The report also shows the traffic estimates you can expect and the metric levels you should aim for so make sure to check it out!