Contact Center Trends

5 Ways Customer Support Teams Can Prepare For the Holidays

By Shauna Geraghty

0 min read

It’s the holiday season and, although it may be cold outside, things are heating up in your customer support office. The phones are ringing off the hook, ticket volumes are increasing and your email inbox is totally full. As a customer service leader, how do you cope?

Customer support veterans, Scott Allison and Kristin Smaby joined us for our Customer Service Excellence Webinar Series to give us some pro tips on how to survive the holiday season in your contact center.

You can listen to the full recording here.

Here are some key takeaways from the webinar:

1. Be Prepared

Many unexpected issues can arise during the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare ahead and create a cohesive game plan. Review your historical reporting from previous holidays to get a sense of the call volume you should expect. Outsource some of your tasks to other companies that can easily ramp up and ramp down when the volume of queries demands it. Talkdesk’s holiday features help you scale up and down quickly so you don’t have to outsource.

Train your agents before the holidays on how to deal with high demand. Although having a backup plan is always useful, unexpected circumstances always arise. Sometimes it’s during these moments of chaos and urgency that your team’s true colors shine and you can really get creative when it comes to finding novel solutions to problems.

2. Set Up Customer Expectations

Your customers don’t want to be surprised, so keep them in the know by giving them a heads up on what to expect during your customer support holiday hours. Promote your FAQ page more heavily on your homepage and on social media to give customers an easy self-service option. If your hours of operation change, position this clearly on your website.

Change your IVR greetings to let your customers know that they may experience higher wait times than usual in the call queue or schedule an automatic email reply that is descriptive of the situation. Customers are much more likely to be receptive if you are transparent right off the bat.

3. Empathize and Communicate with Your Customer

Try putting yourself in your customers’ shoes: they’d much rather be relaxing and eating with loved ones during the holidays, if they are contacting your support team it’s for an important reason. During the holidays, customers are much more likely to be anxious and aggravated, so try to put your customers at ease by responding immediately to any query.

The key is to keep constant communication with your customers even if the problem has yet to be solved. Try to be specific and avoid vague responses like, “We’re working hard to solve your problem.”

4. Inspire and Empower Your Agents

Your holiday support agents are taking on a huge ask. While the rest of the company is warm at home enjoying time with friends and family, your customer service agents have to be on their toes handling stressed out customers. Give your agents the option to work from home where they’re more likely to feel relaxed which will in turn help your customers feel laid back. If your agents need to come into the office, give them a little extra inspiration and order food or provide in-office catering.

Set your agents up for success by giving them the right training beforehand and encouraging them to use their best judgement. This will help them feel empowered to give customers the best support. Don’t forget to design a rewards program in place that can involve a higher compensation or a bonus based on performance.

5. Coordinate Across the Company

While your customer support team are on the frontlines during the holidays, coordinate with the entire company to ensure that everyone is on the same page. If marketing will be away, be sure to define your social media strategy and how your support representatives should be responding to support-related posts or customer complaints on social channels.

Make a list of the things that could go wrong with the product or service during the holiday rush and identify key stakeholders. Outline a plan of how your support team should make decisions when those who may traditionally need to sign off on them, like the head of Customer Success or the CEO, are out of the office and offline.

While resources may be scarce and demand higher than usual during the holiday season, the best thing a customer service leader can do is stay calm and carry on. You’ve hired your support team for a reason and should have full confidence in their capability to survive the holiday season in style.

Listen to the full webinar to get more tips and stories from Scott and Kristin.


Shauna Geraghty

As the first U.S. employee, Shauna helped to scale Talkdesk to over 1,000 employees in 7 offices globally. During her tenure, she has built Talkdesk's Marketing, Talent and HR functions from the ground up. Shauna has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has applied foundational knowledge from the field of psychology to help propel Talkdesk along its hyper-growth trajectory.