Don’t let the holiday season chat influx dampen your mood

By Chow Li Ying

Published October 15, 2015
Last modified October 15, 2015

The holiday season is a special time. People are in high spirits as joy—and the sound of wrapping paper being torn—fills the air. It’s a particularly great time for online retailers. Between November and December 2014, an estimated $53.3 billion was spent on e-commerce.

However, more transactions usually lead to more customer enquiries, and not all businesses are equipped to deal with the sudden increase in chat volume. A lack of planning will leave your business with disgruntled customers and lost sales. But there’s no reason you can’t make the most of the holiday season. The following five tips will help increase your efficiency and manage a surge in chat volume during the holiday season.

1. Automatically direct chats to the right agent
Getting transferred between support agents is one of the top reasons customers hate contacting support. Transferring customers can waste a lot of time for both the business and customer.

During the holiday season, this becomes even more of an issue. Due to the influx of chats and the limited number of agents, time wasted can be minimized by directing queries to the right department. Questions can be answered without transference between agents.

Zopim's Departments feature allows you to divide your support staff into smaller teams so they can handle specific chats. For example, separating your team by function (billing/sales) ensures that agents are handling requests they are most familiar with.

By enabling pre-chat forms before a chat starts, a customer selects a particular Department and agents will only see chats that are relevant to their Department. By sending chats to agents who have the most knowledge, customers will get a much quicker and more complete answer.You can also automatically route customers to specific Departments by using Triggers to save time.

Foodpanda uses Departments to segregate chats by location and language so that customers are not only able to speak to an agent that understands them, their problems are resolved quicker.

2. Resolve FAQs quickly and effortlessly
That’s where prewritten responses, or Shortcuts, can be handy. Identifying the most pertinent and commonly asked questions during the holiday season and setting up shortcuts can help decrease problem resolution times. This frees up your agents to help other customers.

Wonderful Union uses Shortcuts to redirect customers who have mistakenly ended up at their website or are trying to contact a business other than their own. Shortcuts allow them to spend minimal time responding to questions while maintaining a professional and friendly disposition.

Self-help can also be set up to address common problems that occur during the holiday season. Statistics show that 70% of consumers expect businesses to have a self-service application. Details about return policies and holiday discounts can be added to existing databases so customers may resolve their own problems instead of initiating contact. Setting up a FAQ page specifically for the holiday season is also a viable alternative.

3. Provide follow up for unresolved issues
Even the best customer support teams have days where they can’t resolve every issue, let alone during the busy holiday season. That’s why it’s important to notify customers that, while their problem can’t be solved now, you are working to find a solution. This way, customers don’t have to be on hold indefinitely; they can go about their lives while waiting for a response.

Integrating your live chat provider and your CRM/helpdesk system makes it easier to convert chats into open tickets that can be resolved at a later date (and by later, we mean within 24 hours). This is great when customers have questions that can’t be resolved immediately, such as shipping issues that require liaising with external partners.

Zopim integrates with Zendesk, so you can easily convert unresolved chats into tickets and continue communicating with a customer after the chat ends. Furthermore, you’ll be able to access all vital information from the chat, such as the transcript, country, and IP address.

4. Keep an eye on support metrics and react appropriately
The most logical way to react to an influx of chats is to increase the number of agents on duty. Unfortunately there’s no foolproof method to accurately predict the number of agents required to handle a specific volume of chats. Each business works differently and the performance of each support team varies.

While we have attempted to figure out the ideal number of chats served per agent at one time, it is merely a suggestion based on our unique experience. The only way to discern the ideal number of agents for your business and support team is by monitoring your chat and agent metrics. You can do this on Zopim using analytics.

With Analytics, you can monitor relevant metrics such as the average response time for a chat, missed chats, and customer satisfaction (CSAT). This will enable you to react immediately if you realize customer service standards are dipping due to the influx of chats.


CSAT tells you how happy customers are with the support they receive. Keeping an eye on this, along with the other metrics, can prove invaluable in managing the high holiday chat volume.

5. Spread the holiday spirit with customized chat widgets
Spice up the holiday (and your website) with customizable widgets, and help your customers immerse themselves in the season’s festivities. It’s an easy way to make your website stand out and add a personal touch to your support channel.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the sudden increase in chat volume during the holidays, but it can also be the time for your business to showcase great customer support. By going above and beyond, you’re showing customers you take their needs seriously and are willing to go out of your way to ensure they receive impeccable service. It’s important to provide high quality support day to day. But when the holiday season comes around and everyone is in a gift-buying frenzy, responding fast and following up diligently can help you diffuse the chat influx crisis. Who knows, you might even win over some loyal customers and make some sales at the same time.

This post was originally published by Zopim. Since joining Zendesk, Zopim has been welcomed into our product family as Zendesk Chat, along with a number of treasured belongings.