Celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne is set to offer a very welcome and extended bank holiday weekend – but the holiday-feeling could derail the customer experience if franchisees are not prepared, says Jess Pritchard, head of the corporate sector at leading outsourced communications provider Moneypenny.
Bank holidays often cause issues for business when it comes to customer service continuity – the more people are on holiday, the longer customers must wait for enquiries to be answered and issues to be resolved. But this needn’t be the case says Jess, as there are several ways to ensure customer communication is fit for a queen this Platinum Jubilee bank holiday.
Jess says: “Think about the resources you’ll have in place and what this means. Many people are tagging extra days holiday on to the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday so it’s quite possible that teams might be under-resourced for a week either side rather than just a couple of days. To avoid this national holiday being anything but a celebration, you need to consider how reduced staff or availability will impact your customers. Will you be open over the bank holiday weekend at all? When can they expect call backs? How quickly will new enquiries be progressed? How will emergency calls be escalated? By considering these kinds of scenarios now, you can ensure the most appropriate response.”
Boost don’t reduce
Longer-than-normal response times are often expected due to bank holidays, but they needn’t be says Jess: “There’s a tendency to think a reduction in customer care during busy or holiday periods is inevitable – but why does it have to be that way? With the right level of outsourced support – be that overflow call handling to fully outsourced support and 24/7 live chat – there are ways to make sure all enquiries are captured, messages are taken, and issues are escalated.”
Franchisees should use all available channels to explain to customers how the jubilee will impact both service and availability – after all, no one expects your team to be available 247; they deserve a holiday too.
Jess says: “Customers are more forgiving when they know what’s happening. It pays to be exhaustive when it comes to managing expectations. If you’re closed altogether, explain for how long. If service is reduced or calls will be handled within 72 hours instead of your usual 24 hours, be upfront and say it. Notes on email footers and in newsletters, updated phone recordings, social media updates and live chat pop-ups can all help to manage expectations, explain changed opening hours and show customer care matters.”
Jess adds: “Equally, sales teams should give thought to the self-serve options that are available. Website FAQs can be effective at helping customers find the answers to basic questions, while live chat can help to take messages, signpost people to help and capture leads 247, all while also keeping volume away from the phones. Both options rely on the customer taking the lead when it comes to meeting their own needs. Having options like these is an important part of empowering customers and ensuring choice.”
Jess’ final tip is to refrain from the behaviours that can lead to customer frustration and ultimately customer loss. She says: “Resist the temptation to rely on voicemail to pick up calls while your team enjoys the long weekend. We all know that customers don’t like leaving them, and even fewer people check their messages. Save annoyance and frustration all round by guaranteeing that a person answers the phone.
“Leaving a message with a person is far better for your customer as it makes them feel valued. It also provides an opportunity to show empathy, manage expectations, resolve issues, capture new leads and even escalate urgent enquiries or opportunities as required.”
Jess concludes: “No one wants to return to a raft of angry and frustrated messages or missed opportunities. Use the next few weeks to ensure you have the right communication strategies in place, think about typical customer needs and establish where outsourced support might help. Continuity is king (or should we say queen) when it comes to customer care…. even during a bank holiday.”