The holiday satisfaction slump: keeping holiday customers happy

The holiday satisfaction slump: keeping holiday customers happy

November 8, 2012
The holiday satisfaction slump: keeping holiday customers happy

Holidays are hard on customer satisfaction. Last year, you might have noticed a slump in your clients’ happiness around winter. Then again, between the frenzied gift-shopping, uncomfortably forward TSA agents, and inevitable reenactments of that one time your Uncle Jim shook hands with Gerald Ford, it’s no surprise winter makes us a bit touchy.

Several industries are affected by the seasonal slump, but the Travel industry might have it the worst. Trip coordination and last-minute changes are fertile grounds for customer complaints. On top of that, the problems multiply with the sudden surge in business. A bad winter season can leave your customers exasperated and your reputation tarnished. What’s a support agent to do?

Here at Zendesk, we’ve come up with three tips to keep your customer service quality high through the winter. Though the data comes from the travel industry, any organization that experiences a higher-than-usual seasonal ticket volume can apply these suggestions. They won’t get you out of wearing that hand-knit sweater your grandmother thoughtfully monogrammed, but they will keep your satisfaction score high through the holidays.

Step 1: Increase satisfaction by adding more agents

Between October and December of 2011, the average satisfaction for the travel industry dropped 11%. It’s easy to see why: those companies helped 96% more users in December than they did in October. Unsurprisingly, many travel companies were unable to deliver quality support when the demands on them were practically doubled.

Scaling your support team to meet customer demands in a thorough and timely fashion is the best way to keep your support quality high.

Customers (in green) come rushing in by November. Scaling your support team will keep your response times low and satisfaction high (and your team will thank you, too)

Travel companies who successfully maintained high wintertime satisfaction had almost four times as many support agents as those who experienced the slump: the successful companies had a median of 11 active agents, while the struggling ones had a median of only 3. If you expect your support demands to grow this winter, consider growing your support team to keep things running smoothly.

Step 2: Reduce ticket scale using forums

You can mitigate some of the ticket surge using forums. Forums are a great place to put frequently asked questions that usually wind up in a ticket queue, allowing your agents to focus on more complicated requests.

Leading travel companies took advantage of forums to help weather the winter: their median number of forum topics was 14. Struggling companies had only half as many forum topics.

If you’re new to forums, check out our primer on forum functionality. If you’ve been using forums for awhile, there may be more you can do to increase ticket deflection.

 Step 3: Lower reply time with macros

If your ticket queue is full of common support requests, you should be using macros. Macros are canned replies that can be used to quickly send personalized responses to common inquiries. If you find yourself typing the same response time and time again, create a macro instead, and add it to the reply with a single click.

If many customers ask a question which is already answered in the forums, you can link to the forum in a macro to easily direct them toward the information they need, without losing that personal touch.

For those using the new Zendesk, there’s more good news: you can easily monitor your customer satisfaction, ticket scale, and first scale, and first reply time using the Benchmark reports in the Reporting section of your account.

Monitor your team’s performance with built-in Benchmark reports.

You can even compare yourself against your peers and see how your organization measures up to companies with the same industry, number of employees, and target audience. Feeling ambitious? See if you can outperform the average Travel satisfaction score this December!

If winter means more business, remember—it means more support! Be prepared for the added strain on your support team.  As your ticket volume scales up, scale your support team up, too. Make sure you’re using forums to deflect tickets, and set up macros to expedite those common agent replies.

Learn more about the Zendesk Benchmark