May is just around the corner with extra bank holidays thanks to King Charles’ Coronation and the usual Spring break and May half term. Research from leading outsourced communications company Moneypenny, shows that the volume of calls to companies can increase by up to 38% on the Tuesday following a bank holiday, and if accompanied by reduced staffing levels this can reduce customer service levels.
The more people off work, the longer enquirers must wait for questions to be answered and issues to be resolved. But this needn’t be the case says Mark Finlay, Chief Commercial Officer for Moneypenny, who provides his top tips to help businesses remain the king of customer communication.
“Consider what resource you’ll have in place over the coming months. Savvy employees may have taken advantage of clever ways to book annual leave around bank holidays to take extended breaks, so you could be short staffed for more than just a few days.
Businesses therefore need to consider how a change in resource could impact their customers. Will they be open over the bank holiday weekend at all? If not, when can customers expect call backs and how quickly will new enquiries be progressed, or urgent calls escalated? By planning for these kinds of scenarios now, you can plan for the most appropriate response and ensure both staff and customers know what to expect.”
Impress your audience.
Extended response times are often expected around bank holidays, but they shouldn’t be according to Mark: “There’s a tendency to think a drop in customer service during busy or holiday periods is inevitable and even acceptable – but why? With the right level of outsourced support – overflow call handling, fully outsourced support or 24/7 live chat – you can capture all enquiries, take messages and escalate issues. Plus, you’ll show customers and prospects just how much you value their business – not just on bank holidays but all year round.”
Businesses should use channels like their website, social media pages and any recorded phone messages to explain to customers how bank holidays will impact both service and availability – after all, no one expects your team to be available 24/7; they deserve a break too.
Mark says: “People are more forgiving when they know what’s happening, so it pays to manage 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 so. Notes on email footers and in newsletters, updated phone recordings, social media posts and live chat pop-ups can all help to spell out alternative opening hours and show companies care about their customers.”
Mark adds: “Help customers to help themselves. Website FAQs can guide them to find the answers to basic questions, while live chat can take messages, signpost people to what they need, and capture leads around the clock – at the same time as keeping calls away from the phones. These options rely on the enquirer taking the lead when it comes to meeting their own needs, but having options like these empowers customers and delivers choice.”
Set a standard.
Mark concludes: “Set a standard for your customer care all year round – make it your USP and don’t let varying resource levels impact your reputation. Instead, have outsourced support in place, be that for overflow calls, or fully outsourced support. Resist the temptation to rely on voicemail to pick up calls at busier times or during bank holidays – customers don’t like leaving them and you can save frustration if they know that someone will always answer the phone.
“Even if their enquiry can’t be resolved, leaving a message with a human is far better for your customer as it makes them feel valued. No one wants to return to a raft of angry and frustrated messages, or lost business. 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 when it comes to customer care, after all.”