November 11, 2020

How support teams plan for the holidays (Webinar Recap)

In this webinar, Kaytlin Louton facilitates a panel of customer support leaders—Sarah Inbar from The Farmer’s Dog, Lexy Borstelmann from Pirate Ship and Talal Naboulsi from Looker. The group discusses the upcoming holiday season and what it means for support teams working remotely this year. They explore the use of data and self-service tools in planning and mitigating support volume, focusing on the users that need you most for the holidays, and keeping up team morale in the process.

This panel is brought to you by Support Driven.

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Video notes:

1:11 - Introduction of support leads

4:12 - How far in advance do you start planning for the holidays and what do you do?

4:44 - Pirate Ship uses month-over-month and year-to-date data from Intercom, Assembled and a custom spreadsheet to plan for the holiday season as early as August

5:44 - Volume usually quiets down for software companies like Looker so they focus on customers with mission-critical holiday seasons, like retail companies

7:45 - Mitigating inbound contacts with self-service tools and content for new subscribers so that Famers Dog can focus on preparing logistically for shipping through the holiday season.

10:46 - Using Intercom and AI tools like automated bots, alongside building out a more traditional help center

12:03 - Tactically, how do you determine who gets to take time off and for which days?

12:22 - Using Assembled for forecasting combined with internal Looker data to determine the minimum number of employees needed on the holidays

14:40 - Blacking out PTO for days when the company is driving promotions around the holidays (e.g. Black Friday) and incentivizing volunteers with overtime

15:51 - Managing holidays with a team split across multiple regions and channels

16:51 - All hands on deck at Pirate Ship so that the team can take the days off on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s.

18:30 - Is there any difference this year with people working from home?

19:42 - Anecdotally, people are taking less time off without the need for travel

21:03 - What did you do to reset from the holiday rush?

24:20 - Using a third-party support team to assist with high-volume periods and time-consuming tasks

27:35 - Being remote for the holidays has increased the need for visibility into agents’ daily workload

28:50 - Keeping customers happy over the holidays with urgent queues

29:24 - The on-call system for urgent requests that may need to involve dev ops or engineering at Looker

32:32 - How do you judge how the holidays went?

32:53 - Data is not unequivocal. Using transparency and employee feedback in reflection

36:15 - Using feedback from weekly 1:1s and the “kitchen table” to become more effective, like embedding support in engineering teams

38:42 - Anything fun planned for the team this year for the holidays?

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