Seasonal Hiring Tips for the Holiday Shopping Season

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Seasonal hiring during the Holiday Shopping Season

Holiday shopping season is the busiest period of the year for any online business. Thousands of customers who are ready to buy will visit your website. To answer that, you will need some extra pairs of hands. One way to get them onboard is through seasonal hiring.

Seasonal hiring allows you to quickly staff up before the hottest periods of the year. When looking for seasonal hires, You can ask specific customer service interview questions to gauge if they could be of help during this period. As a result, you can provide help to more customers and make more money.

Anthony Ramirez of Mixbook on seasonal hiring

And who knows – maybe some of those seasonal hires will prove themselves enough to make the cut for your core customer service team?

Anthony Ramirez, Director of Customer Service & Support at Mixbook – an ecommerce business centered around photo books, calendars and prints – shared his experience with seasonal hiring during the Holiday Season.

Here’s how you can deal with increased traffic during the Holiday Shopping season using seasonal hiring.

1. Ramp up seasonal hiring

“This is essential to having a successful holiday season. You need great people helping your customers and you need them locked in and ready for training by the first week of November or last week of October. Every company has a sweet spot and target date when seasonal employees should be handling live issues. If you get them in too early, you could be blowing your budget. If you get them in too late, you could be in serious trouble as Black Friday and Cyber Monday come fast!”

LiveChat commentary: Look to your data from previous years. You’re looking for the peaks – the days when you had the most customers on your website, the biggest number of calls, chats or emails.

These hotspots are the primary reason why you need extra staff. Try adding some extra agents on those days specifically.

2. Don’t compromise your standards

“Hiring seasonal employees can be tough and as your target date approaches you may feel the heat to just get people in seats. Don’t do it! Keep your standards high and trust the process. The pain of having unqualified seasonal employees will wreak havoc for weeks to come.”

LiveChat commentary: It’s better to go completely without seasonal hiring if would result in poor customer service.

According to our data, metrics like customer satisfaction or response time don’t decrease in any meaningful way during the Holiday period.

Extra traffic or fresh hires are not an excuse for poor service!

3. Set seasonal metrics

“Be realistic when setting goals and guidelines for your seasonal team. If you push your current team to handle 12+ inquires per hour, is it realistic to set the same goal for your seasonal crew? This is one area where you can lower the bar. Instead of requiring agents to take 3 chats you take it down to 2. This type of adjustment should be built into your seasonal planning/forecast.”

LiveChat commentary: Even though you shouldn’t compromise your standards, you need some way to ease the new hires in.

Quantity of the processed cases is not as important as quality. As long as customers are receiving good service, it’s still a win even if a seasonal agent can handle one or two cases at the same time. It’s still two extra cases you can take of thanks to the seasonal help.

4. Set the tone

“It is always good to set the tone with your seasonal team. Be real and open with them about the length they are working and representing the company. Drive home the point you’re grateful they are on the team. There is normal angst among seasonal workers about this issue. What will happen after X-mas? It is so important to relay to your team that they represent the organization and this seasonal opportunity is a showcase for there future. Remind the seasonal team that permanent positions may come up after the holidays or next year and it’s in their best interest to kick butt.”

LiveChat commentary: Lay it straight. Let the new hires know immediately that this is a seasonal job.

Many companies try to beat around the bush and woo seasonal hires with vague promises of long-term employment.

5. Accelerate monitoring and coaching

“Once your seasonal team is in place and handling live inquiries, you have to step up your monitoring/coaching. At first, live monitoring is the best approach for realtime feedback. This is powerful and essential as the seasonal employee is still connecting the dots of your business. Using LiveChat, we also spend a lot of time reading archived chats and working with our seasonal employees. Don’t forget, confidence is a BIG KEY for your new team so be sure to deliver plenty of positive feedback too.”

LiveChat commentary: You can coach agents in real-time using the supervision feature. It allows you to join ongoing conversations covertly and provide advice only the agent can see.

While supervising, offer tips, pointers and help out with more difficult answers. You can also encourage the agent to supervise more experienced colleagues during down-time for some extra insight on how to properly handle customer cases.

6. Have fun

“Be sure to budget for extra pizza and dinner parties for your holiday season. You can also create contests around positive customer surveys, and schedule adherence with prizes like movie tickets, gift cards, etc. The most beneficial thing you can do is publicly acknowledge positive interactions/feedback in front of the team. Even if you have a team in different parts of the world, you can do this with tools like HipChat, Slack, and or Google Hangouts.”

LiveChat commentary: The Holiday season is as stressful as it gets. Relieving some of that stress will have a direct impact on your team’s ability to interact with customers, both for the seasonal hires and your core team.

If they can do that without stressing out about the sheer number of contacts they need to handle, you will see great results in terms of revenue at the end of the season.

Get your ecommerce ready for the Holiday Shopping Season

Ecommerce During the Holiday Shopping Season

Hiring seasonal help will help you address the increased traffic but it’s not the only thing you can do to take the Holiday Season head on.

We analyzed the previous Holiday Shopping season using the data from 1,400 ecommerce companies to find out what you can expect and what else you can do.

The Ecommerce During the Holiday Shopping Season report includes tips and methods from customer service experts and big ecommerce businesses that will get you through the season.

There’s still some time to prepare so make sure to check out the report and get ready for some serious selling!

Photo courtesy of Karen via Creative Commons.

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