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5 Tips for Handling Live Chat Support During the Holiday Season

Justyna Polaczyk
8 min read
Sep 21, 2018
Live chat holiday season

Aaaah, the holiday season.

What a lovely time of the year!

The shopping experience starts even before you even set foot in a store. You spend hours fighting with others shoppers, trying to find a parking spot. When you finally reach the mall, you spend more time looking for free walking space than looking for gifts.

All that, with the accompaniment of way-too-cheerful music and children screams. While listening to “Last Christmas” for the 17th time, you start to dream about escaping into the wasteland and never hearing that again.

Now, are you surprised that so many people choose online shopping over the real-life struggle? Online shopping is convenient, there’s more product variety, prices are better and there are no crowds.

And probably thanks to these pros, last year’s online sales hit the absolute record. In 2017, customers spent $108 billion online during the holiday season, 14.7 percent more than in 2016!

Obviously, it’s a thrilling information for the whole retail industry. It means that even you don’t have a brick-and-mortar shop, you can still have a great share in the holiday shopping craze. However, you have to prepare for that.

Today, I’ll focus on managing customer service during the holidays and providing live chat support.

Christmas gift phrase google trends

Why live chat? (quickly, I promise)

Live chat is a customer service tool, an alternative for quite ineffective emails and expensive phones. It lets one agent chat with a couple of customers at one time and provides features that are helping agents’ in their daily battle for productivity and excellent service.

Why is live chat so important for sales?

It’s because your customers:

To add some spice to this information here’s some real data from our customers. Thanks to LiveChat:

Now, when you know what live chat is and how you can benefit from using it, let’s see the promised 5 tips on how to live chat during the holiday season.

Holiday packing laptops

Tip #1: Check out last year’s trends and prepare your schedule

Every sane manager does their homework before they plan the schedule for the holiday season. Live chat support is no different.

The first thing you can do is to check your historical data (if you used live chat the year before).

Reports tell you how many chats you have had last year and how high the customer satisfaction was. Thanks to that, you’ll be able to tell how many agents you’ll need this year to deliver amazing customer support and keep customer happiness high.

If it happened that you didn’t use live chat last year, don’t despair. There are lots of online benchmarks that will give you a good sense of what you can expect.

For example, every year, we publish a Customer Service Report with last year’s insights. We gather data from 21,000 companies, nearly 334 million chats, and 17 million tickets to find upcoming trends and key customer service findings.

You can use it to get to know how high might be your holiday traffic, how many chats your agents will have to deal with daily, and what are the top results in your industry.

Live chat holiday season

Tip #2: Set up personalized greetings on your website

The holiday season is a season of high competition. Thousands of users browse thousands of websites and sometimes even a quick chat can turn such user into a customer. For that reason, you really want your website visitors to chat with you.

To engage your website customers in chatting, you can use the feature that’s called a greeting. Greetings are automated messages that are being sent to website visitors and invite them to chat.

All you have to do is to think about any scenario that might be problematic for your customers. For example, you might notice that a lot of people leave your shopping cart (and you don’t know why). Set up a rule that will send a chat invitation to your customer after 15 seconds of being in a cart. Thanks to that, you might offer them help and finalize the sale.

Tip #3: Hire a chatbot

Chatbots are AI assistants you can integrate with your live chat app so they could chat with your website visitors.

These artificial live chat agents are useful in three main scenarios:

If any of the above scenarios sound like yours, you should definitely think about hiring a chatbot.

Although it might sound complicated, setting up a chatbot is hassle-free.

All you have to do is to create an account on a chatbot platform of your choice (obviously, I’d recommend ChatBot, a chatbot factory made by our R&D team) and then integrating it with your live chat app. You can import one of the chatbot scenario templates and work on it to make it fit all your customer cases.

Not convinced yet? No problem! However, think about the fact that during the Holiday Season you’ll have to deal with a higher number of chats than usually. In most cases, you’ll have to respond to the same questions over and over again.

A chatbot can speak with hundreds of customers at the same time and loves repeatable tasks. Thanks to that, human agents will have more time to focus on more demanding problems (or completely other things).

Pro tip: I’d suggest to create chatbot scenarios and test them before the holiday season is on fire.

Tip #4: Help your agents to meet the goals

During the holiday season, an average Retail business has about a 10% increase in the number of chats, when compared with the rest of the year.

It means that if you agent handles a hundred chats daily, they will have to deal with the additional ten per day. And yet, your agents still have to meet your KPIs (or even exceed them, it’s the amazing experience season). It puts a huge pressure on them!

For that reason, you need to make sure that you’re making a good use of all LiveChat features that make their job easier and more effective.

You surely make a good use of two features: message sneak-peek (it allows agents to see the message before it’s sent) and multiple chats handling (every agent can chat with multiple customers at once).

Let’s move to more advanced features:

* Divide your team into groups of agents handling different cases, e.g. sales, billing or support. Create a custom pre-chat survey and ask your customers what their problem is. Thanks to that, they will be transferred to the right agent right away.

* If you often reply to the same customer questions, consider saving those replies as canned responses. Later, you’ll be able to recall them with a couple of keystrokes (time-saving!). There is no limit on how many canned responses you can save, use it freely!

* Messy chats are the nightmare of team supervisors and managers. If you don’t want to drown in your chat archive, you better start tagging your chats so you can easily find them later. You can call it “billing,” “shipping,” “support,” “spam.” It’s up to you, the goal is to be able to filter your chat easily.

* Speaking of spam, sometimes you will get chats from internet trolls who live to make your life more difficult. Instead of losing your nerves on fighting with them, ban their IP and enjoy the serenity.

* Last but not least, let your agents use the mobile app. Thanks to that, your agents won’t be chained to their desks but they still will be able to respond to your website visitors in no time.

Tip #5: Turn employee engagement into customer happiness

All support agents have a definitely hard time during the holiday season. They work under pressure, deal with dozens of chats, meet KPIs and yet, they still have to keep their communication professional.

I think that the key to high customer satisfaction is happy, motivated team. To do that, you need to engage them and reward their efforts.

The best idea to do that is to introduce gamification. Having all customer service statistics on hand, you can create a simple game for agents that will keep their reports tight and holiday spirit high.

Agents can compete in different categories: agent of the day, most cases solved, highest chat ratings, etc. For example, every week, an agent with the highest number of good ratings, would win a double restaurant voucher.

Playing in a workplace? Yes sir, especially if you want your agents to love their work.

Add some playfulness to their job by asking them to take holiday-themed pictures and upload them to live chat app. Ask them to be creative and create cheerful greeting messages. Create holiday canned responses. Your customers will love it too!

Ready, steady, go!

Aaaah, the holiday season.

People dashing through the snow with their hands filled with bags. (Most of those presents have probably been in stock for ages, so the shop owners decided to throw a Christmas sale).

Lovely “Last Christmas” played in every single mall. (Actually, it’s being played since September and you feel you won’t be responsible for your actions when you hear it once again).

Excited children, laughing and screaming in the queue to a Santa (and their parents, grateful for at least 30 minutes of free time for themselves).

Still surprised that more and more savvy shoppers decide to move online?

Don’t be and prepare your store for the holiday rush!