Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Customer Care Not Looking Very Caring This Holiday

November 21, 2013

Out of all the things that the holidays bring—and there are plenty of good things indeed—there are some things that just aren't all that great. Maybe it's the stress or the profoundly difficult store experiences or even just putting up with that lunatic across the street who insists on a Clark Griswold house every year. One of the biggest holiday horrors out there, according to a new survey from Aspect Software, says that customer care is going to be one of the scariest parts of the season for a lot of folks out there.

How scary is customer care, according to the Aspect survey? Less scary than eating year-old fruitcake for about 37 percent of respondents. It's so scary that people are actually willing to make changes in terms of the means used to contact customer service when it becomes necessary so to do, according to the survey. Throughout the year, about 48 percent of respondents believe that, when customer services' help is needed, hitting the phones is the best thing to do. But when holiday time approaches, that number falls to just 33 percent. Where did all those users go? To other channels.

The number of users believing that in-person and e-mail contacts are best starts at 21 percent through much of the year, but when the holidays hit, those two channels jump to a full quarter at 25 percent. Only nine percent of users will turn to online chat for customer service help through the year, but during the holidays, that number climbs to fully 15 percent. Perhaps worst of all, fully 38 percent of respondents give cash as a gift just so customer service no longer even becomes an issue. What's more, 91 percent of respondents think that customer service needs to be better prepared for the holidays in general.

Aspect's chief marketing officer, Jim Freeze, offers some comment on just why the numbers came out this way, saying “There continues to be frustration that companies cannot seem to provide quick and seamless customer service and it’s pushing consumers to take greater control of their experience. And many of these approaches such as avoiding customer service completely, are proof that providing sub-par experiences could be negatively impacting companies’ seasonal revenues. With the year-end season being a critical time for industries from retail and food service to hospitality and travel, companies must offer consistent and exceptional customer experiences, across channels and year-round, to break the holiday service stigma.”

Part of this actually comes as a response to companies' own actions. Recently we discovered that some companies have a tendency to dial back the customer service response mechanisms in response to the holidays' arrival. Schedules can be difficult to deal with; employees want, even need, time off, but this is the busiest time of year for many business, when the most employees are needed to handle the load. So some companies will bring in temps to handle the overflow, and skimp on training to get said temps on the line faster. That doesn't help the customers, and results in ill will all around.

Companies have a great opportunity with the holiday season to pick up sales, and get more shoppers in the door and buying. But to do that, customers are going to have to be glad said customers made the decision to shop at that business, and that's going to take top-notch customer service to do the job.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker