Tag

Omnichannel Customer Experience Archives - IdeasUnlimited

Preparing for Employees Going on Annual Leave

9 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Employees Going on Holiday Leave

By | Business Improvement, Call Center Support, Employee Management, Time Management, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Last year’s holiday season retail sales in the US alone topped $161 billion and 43% shoppers supported small businesses on Small Business Saturday. With the holiday season coming up, now is the time to plan out a company strategy to ensure you have backup staff handling essential business activities at all times.

Figures for Holiday Season Retail Sales

You don’t have to dread the holiday season when your employees go on leave, when the company’s manpower is down and productivity seems to nosedive. Simply follow our tips that we’ve practiced and improved upon through trial and error over 8 years of operations and you will be well prepared. You can easily handle holiday leave while maintaining a healthy culture and employer brand.

  1. Use a Workforce Management Software

Using a scheduling and staffing software or even a shared Google calendar can make your life infinitely easier. This way you won’t have clashes in scheduling vacations and can plan accurately in advance for holidays. Most workforce management softwares have additional features like communication, task management, and time reporting. Here is our rundown of some effective softwares:

Deputy

With unlimited users, shift swapping, forecasting and QuickBooks integration, Deputy is a mobile platform that can cut your time spent scheduling considerably. It is perfect for small to medium businesses employing shift workers.

When I Work

Offering templates and shortcuts with its mobile and desktop adaptive platform, When I Work is also integrated with some POS and Payroll systems and has a very intuitive user interface (UI).

Quinyx

It allows you to schedule work keeping in mind employee contracts and working time directives. You can also set up an optimal schedule matching the best employee to the most appropriate task and set up a staffing schedule taking expected sales into account.

TrackSmart

Their online time and attendance management software allows for scheduling based on employee availability and job skills. You can even set up recurring schedules. All these are accessible from all devices 24/7. These smarter schedules will ensure you are never understaffed, even for the holiday season.

  1. Be Transparent

Make sure you communicate your holiday leave policy and vacation policy to your employees as soon as they are hired. Is it first come first served? Are there any vacation blackout periods when no vacation requests would be entertained due to an expected rise in traffic or a special project? Will you be encouraging them to take their vacation in the slower periods? Communicating all this in advance will be fairer and more acceptable to your employees. Make sure any vacations are granted judiciously—with employees fully cognizant of the decision-making criteria—after due deliberation and without any favoritism.

  1.  Set a Deadline

Set a deadline by which employees can request holiday leave. Depending on your needs, this can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks before the staff wants to use leave time. This deadline should be far enough in advance for you to ensure that it does not affect a project’s productivity or deadline and you are not understaffed. Also cap the number of employees of each specialization who can take off at the same time.

  1. Get Pertinent Information

When an employee puts in a leave request, request a report on current projects. Ask them how they plan to meet deadlines before they head out the door. Nicolas Gremion told SmallBizTrends that this process “gives me piece of mind that their absence won’t be problematic and they can leave knowing that they’ve tied up any loose ends.”

Get a detailed breakdown of projects they are currently working on, tasks to be performed, access details for pertinent files and accounts, deadlines for current projects, important contact information, and any other information needed by the employees covering the vacationers’ jobs. Create a checklist of these that each vacationing employee can tally against before leaving.

Project Name Deadline Tasks to be Performed Contact Person Contact Information Access Details
Account Password
Project 1
Project 2
Project 3
  1. Delegate Tasks

Then make sure that someone is covering for the missing employee. Sometimes, that requires handing off tasks and projects to a few different people in the office instead of asking one person to do the work of two. Crosstrain employees in preparation for the upcoming holiday season, ensuring that the backup employee is fully conversant with the appropriate project training manual.

  1. Trade-off

Trade-off between your employees. Some employees may have important commitments at other times of the year that they can take time off for and then work during the holiday season. Allow employees with similar job descriptions to trade off their vacations with each other, one picking up the slack when the other is on leave. Stagger your employee vacations so you always have coverage; allow some to work the morning shift, some the afternoon shift, or schedule one set of employees for the first few days of the week and the other for the rest of the weekdays during the holiday season.

  1. Offer Incentives for Working Employees

Give cash bonuses, extra paid leaves redeemable after the holiday season, and other incentives for those willing to work during the most popular vacation periods. This will ensure that you have a productive skeleton staff even during the heart of the holiday season. It will also boost the morale of those who have to work over the holidays when the other employees are on leave and enjoying themselves.

  1. Hire Temporary Support

In some cases, you can even hire a temporary virtual assistant to pick up the slack in an employee’s absence. Especially in the retail industry, business booms in the holiday season and having employees on holiday leave can cause a stress on operations. Hire a qualified virtual assistant to take care of ecommerce sales, provide administrative and operational support, or even act as a virtual receptionist service during the holidays.

You can even hire a temporary call center operator or a customer service center to handle customer service, field incoming calls, generate leads, and make telemarketing calls to take advantage of the boost in sales in the holiday season.

Having part-time staff as backup all year round is always a sound decision, so they can come in if you have any shortages and during the holiday season when most employees are on leave.

  1. Prep for the Manager’s Leave

What if the manager is the one going on leave? We suggest that you let your employees know far enough in advance so they can prepare. Make the manager’s calendar public so that the staff will know when he or she will be back. Ask the manager to train the second-in-command to pick up the slack. The administrative support staff must also be familiarized with how to handle certain tasks while the manager is out of the office, such as where to direct calls and how to respond to requests. Then, consider having a protocol for an emergency, so employees can determine when to call the manager while he or she is on leave.

With these tactics, you can ensure that handling the holiday season won’t be such a hassle. Let us know down below what some best practices are that you have seen or used for handling employee leave during the holiday season.

2018: A New Era of Customer Service – Are You Ready?

2018: A New Era of Customer Service – Are You Ready?

By | Backend Support Services, Business Improvement, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Your business relies on good customer service for its success – far more than it used to, in fact. According to IT research company Gartner, 89% of market leaders anticipate that the omnichannel customer experience will be their primary business concern, as opposed to four years ago, when only 36% did. This signals a fundamental change in the role and function of businesses.

While the products or services that the company offered used to be the main concern, now the excellence of your customer care center will be the thing that sets you apart from the competition. After all, there are very few businesses out there that can afford to alienate their clientele because their products or services are good enough to keep people coming back regardless of their experience.

With this rise in the importance of customer service, many companies are going to have to do a massive overhaul of their current methods. This is because the support systems that companies utilize are becoming increasingly reliant on social media compatibility, 24/7 service, and mobile-friendly options. If your company doesn’t keep up with the modern standards, you will likely face losing clients and thus revenue.

So what exactly should you be aiming for in terms of customer service?

Live Chat & 24/7 Call Center Support

If you haven’t already set these up for customers, you are already behind. Most medium to larger companies have already set up an inbound call center solution, ensuring that someone can always be reached in case customers have questions or concerns. Even smaller businesses are upgrading their systems, each setting up a call center for small business. Live chat is one of the newer options, to be sure, but it has quickly become ubiquitous.

Omnichannel Support

Many customers now prefer to contact companies through multiple channels, some of the most popular of which are their social media accounts. There should always be an easy way for customers to use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. to contact your company. These channels should also be easy to switch between in the event that the user wants to employ several at a time and there should be someone providing omnichannel support services so you are never out of touch with your customers.

Text-Based Help

Since so many people consider texting to be the preferred mode of communication, it makes sense that your company should have some form of it enabled on your site.

Remote Secondary Access for Technical Support

When your customer can’t figure out how to do something on your site, having an IT professional try to figure out what to do through verbal means is rather like flying a plane blind. Having an option for them to get remote access to the customer’s computer (with their permission, of course) is one of the best ways to sort out the problem quickly and effectively. You thus need someone qualified to provide such technical and backend support services.

No Automated Menu

People are sick and tired of automated menus and trying to interact with recordings. If you want to truly please your customers, offer them a real human being to talk to. It proves almost automatically that you care more about their concerns and are willing to pay someone to listen to them. Having a trained, empathetic, and skilled call center operator automatically enhances customer loyalty.

Virtual Assistant Support

Virtual assistant support services can help you delegate administrative support and operational support tasks. This is especially good for growing businesses that don’t generally need around the clock support in-house. You will never have to turn away customers and can even get extra help around the holiday season. These assistants can perform a wide variety of tasks, from answering phones and emails to scheduling and data entry, payroll processing, lead generation, and practically anything else you need.

These are just some of the customer support services that are becoming the norm for businesses. Implement these and you can practically ensure customer satisfaction – and keep them coming back!