Supplying quality customer service over the holidays
The holidays are a stressful time for companies of all kinds, especially when holiday shoppers expect nothing less than top-notch service.
As part of their holiday shopping spree preparation, many companies beef up their customer service to take on the influx of customers.
With shopping satisfaction in mind, here are a handful of major companies that put customer service first during the holiday season:
When the holidays roll around, credit card usage goes up.
As a result, credit card companies become overwhelmed with an influx in calls from customers’ asking about spending limits and account balances.
With that said, American Express seems to handle their holiday shoppers with ease.
Not only does American Express staff more online and telephone support representatives during the holidays, they also beef up their fraudulent charge watchdog software to accommodate the increase in holiday purchases.
Everyone's favorite everything store makes customer service a top priority during the holidays.
That's right, Amazon, the world's largest retail store, helps holiday shoppers with their online shopping endeavors by increasing their 24-hour live chat staff and providing 1-day and 2-day shipping all the way up to Christmas Eve.
Although you may think big box home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot have the market cornered, Ace Hardware is the real winner in terms of customer service.
As the following article shows, when it comes to the 3 ways to get better customer service, Ace trains its staff, makes sure their always friendly, and has plenty of helpful employees on staff during the holidays.
This customer service triple play makes a huge difference for shoppers and sets Ace Hardware apart from the larger hardware stores.
Speaking of improving in-store customer experiences Apple is the king of customer service, especially during the holidays. Not only does Apple stock their retail stores with extra holiday tech helpers, they also have express checkouts.
With express checkout, every employee on the floor has a card swipe with them as well as access to the cash register, which makes holiday shopping that much faster and more convenient.
With the holidays comes traveling and Southwest airlines really knows how to treat its holiday travelers. For starters, the airline offers free checked baggage year around.
In addition, Southwest encourages its employees to keep travelers' spirits high by making sure each passenger is wished a happy holidays when boarding. This type of holiday cheer goes a long way with weary travelers.
Customer Service Tips
If you want to strengthen your customer service efforts during the holidays, there are a few things your business can do. Making sure you have plenty of employees on hand is the first step to customer service success over the holidays.
Additionally, make sure your support staff is trained and in-the-know about the goods, services, and sales you provide that are unique to the holiday season. From your staffers on the floor to those answering the phones, having a knowledgeable staff makes all the difference in the world for holiday shoppers.
Take a lesson from the companies above and supply quality customer service this holiday season.
About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including retail sales and customer service. For ‘3 Ways to Get Better Customer Service’ click here.
Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried
While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks.
A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so.
What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.
"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"
That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.
But where has this skills shortage stemmed from?
Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.
COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.
It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing.
So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done?
Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change.
Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.
Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line.
On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains.
Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months.
Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector