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4 things contact centres can learn from Father Christmas

As we come to the end of a dramatic and unprecedented year, everyone is looking forward to Christmas, even if current regulations mean it will be very different to normal. Thankfully, one thing that won’t change is the seasonal appearance of Father Christmas, delivering presents to millions around the world.

The man in red has an unrivalled reputation for customer service, satisfying children for many decades by providing what they’ve asked for, on time, year after year. Of course, there are exceptions – even Santa can’t deliver a real unicorn, no matter how good you’ve been. 😀

It’s been a tough year for customer service teams, with remote working, the demands of coronavirus and changing consumer requirements all adding to the pressure. Of course, it isn’t over yet, and for many in industries such as retail peak workload will extend up to and beyond Christmas Day itself.

Given Father Christmas’ success, what can contact centres learn from him, particularly after the 2020 we’ve all had? Essentially, there are four areas where companies and their contact centres can take a lesson from Santa:

1. Keep your promises

The logistical demands of Christmas are staggering – all those toys to make, pack and then deliver to the exact stocking in a very small timeframe. Yet 99% of the time the whole process is seamless, with the right gifts going to the right children, all without Santa being spotted by the eagle-eyed present recipients.

The key point is that Father Christmas has a clear process, he’s planned all his routes, checked all his lists (twice) and then keeps his promises. He delivers when he says he will, no matter where you are and there’s no need to follow up to find out where your parcel is or trek out to pick it up from a depot. Customer service teams obviously have less control over deliveries but being clear and transparent and having visibility of the entire customer journey can at least provide the ability to keep consumers informed and up to date with all of their queries.

2. Focus on empathy and understanding

It would be easy for Father Christmas to adopt a uniform approach to his work – with children receiving a set present depending on their age and gender. It would also be much cheaper and simpler to administer.

However, instead, he takes the time to listen to the Voice of the Customer, reading countless letters, making personal appearances (COVID permitting) and only then does he choose the right present for a child. He demonstrates the importance of showing that you understand an individual customer’s needs and how building empathy with your customers gets them on-side. The result? A phenomenal NPS score and continually satisfied customers.

3. Be enthusiastic and festive

No matter what’s happening Father Christmas is always jolly, enthusiastic and approachable – not bad for someone that must have heard Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas over a million times. So, while Christmas lights and trees in early-November are pushing it, even the most Grinch-like heart in the contact centre does need to get into the Christmas spirit at some point.

Clearly, you don’t need to dress in Santa outfits or deck your workspace with boughs of holly, especially given that many agents are still working from home, but be positive and bright when speaking to consumers and bring some Christmas cheer to your interactions. Deployed sensitively, at the very least it will help build empathy and lower stress levels with callers in the run-up to the big day.

4. Delight your customers

One of the reasons behind Father Christmas’ enduring appeal is the fact that he consistently delights his customers, wherever they are. Whether it’s the unexpected present that they didn’t ask for, but he knows they’ll love, or battling through a snowstorm, guided solely by Rudolph’s nose, he continually goes above and beyond the call of duty.

We’re not suggesting following his exact lead and climbing down customers’ chimneys but see where you can go the extra mile to add value to the relationship. It could be chasing down a query that has stalled in another department or simply chatting a little longer on the phone to someone who is alone at Christmas – delighting your customers makes everyone feel a warm glow inside.

As we come to the end of 2020 this will be our last blog for the year, so all of us at Enghouse would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and hope that you have a wonderful festive experience. We look forward to catching up in 2021!

Published in contact center customer experience voice of the customer