The last days of December are when customer service teams in retail and hospitality are really put to the test. Demanding, stressed-out, time-poor consumers are fighting to get the best products, services and deals for themselves and others. While some businesses manage to really shine during this period, in others the cracks show in a big way. Here are some of the top ‘fails’ during the holiday season.

1. Flooding customers with sales emails and ads in their social feeds

Sending more frequent emails and messages does not automatically increase sales or engagement. In fact, it’s more likely to drive your customers to unsubscribe. Marketing should avoid getting carried away with ‘vanity metrics’ such as open rate. Ultimately what matters most is conversion and whether or not your customer base is engaged.

2. Being everywhere, but nowhere

So, your marketing team quickly hopped on board all the social channels, creating a brand presence on Facebook, Pinterest, Snap, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Youtube etc. but aren’t really interested in listening to people? With third-party social media publishing tools, it’s easy for a single person to schedule updates and branded posts across all your channels at once, but when it comes to responding to customers, it takes a team with a personal touch. Make sure that wherever you have a presence that there is someone who can manage customer inquiries in a timely way.

3. Leaving your social media bot on auto-pilot

While others may start to kick back over the holidays, consumer facing businesses need to ramp up their customer service teams, ensuring that service levels are maintained across all channels, including social media. The most important thing is to ensure that there is a real human responding to people - don’t leave it it to a bot. Most bots are still very basic in their ability to address customer needs and they can be frustrating experiences for many.

4. Focusing too much on sales and not enough on customer service

While the holiday period can be a huge opportunity for sales teams, the experiences that customers have over this period can define their impression of your business. By ‘saving’ the business time and resources in service areas, you could be costing your customers time and goodwill.  Poorly worded responses that sound rushed, fail to clearly action the issue can result from customer service representatives not taking the time to understand problems or questions. Rather than rushing through customer communications, use the holidays as an opportunity to surprise and delight with extra care.

5. Ignoring negative feedback

Companies that ignore their customer complaints are missing the picture when it comes to the customer journey. When companies take the time to listen and respond in a genuine way to complaints there is a high likelihood of them being able to prevent the customer from becoming a detractor. The ROI on taking the time to respond is clear: “customers that receive a responses from brands on Twitter are willing to spend up to 20% more and are 30% more likely to recommend the brand.” At a minimum, customer service teams should thank the customer for the feedback, own up to any mistakes and apologize for the poor experience.

Ultimately, what these customer service fails show is that there are no shortcuts to great service. Technology will not replace human intelligence or empathy. It takes real people to keep the lights on and offer the human connection that is always in demand during the holidays.

Find out how Engage can help front line teams build one-to-one connections with customers through social messaging.