5 Tips to Manage the Holiday Retail Rush

— November 24, 2016

Love it or hate it, Black Friday is very much here to stay (and it’s only getting bigger and bigger). Last year, the holiday retail rush saw $ 67.6 billion spent by 136 million Americans.

What’s more, retailers on average accumulate 30% of annual sales during the period of time between Black Friday through Christmas. Marketing teams are typically in overdrive, all looking to out-market the other with above-the-line campaigns. With all this marketing spend allocated, a very important aspect often gets overlooked: how to deal with the increase in volume of social, mobile customer interactions. So with your marketing teams gearing up to push out promotional sales-led messaging, it’s critical to be prepared for the inbound messages that will result.

Black Friday can bring even the most resolute Social Customer Service Manager close to tears (and 2015 was the most social on record). With this in mind, below are my 5 tips to scale Social Care, while still remaining human this Holiday season!


Customers will always have a whole host of questions for you. With volumes ever-increasing during the holiday season, creating FAQ sheets to answer the high volume, repetitive questions will improve response and resolution time. Allow your social agents to handle more conversations by creating clipboard answers. Guard against canned responses, because your customers will pick up on it and won’t forgive you for it either.

This kind of initiative involves both marketing and operations so you have a fully stocked arsenal of replies regarding promotions, operating times, return policies, etc. Once this holiday knowledge base is created and approved, be sure to designate your internal workflows, and don’t forget to format each response into 140 characters for Twitter.


Determining your brand’s voice when engaging on social is an ever-evolving task. The holidays are a pressure cooker, so coincidentally response and resolution times are paramount. There is no time for trial and error.

To better prepare, have a look at 2015s social interactions. What worked? What flopped? Consider constructing a word cloud to better visualize the top ranking terms/words. Let these insights drive your social tone around the holiday season. This is the best way to meet your customers with real 1-2-1 conversations while being authentic to your brand’s voice.


Staffing is a never-ending conundrum. There are times where you know the spikes in volume are on the horizon and you better be sure that you are fully staffed. Be prepared to shift trained agents over from traditional channels to social if volumes get overwhelming, or consider fully training a new set of dedicated agents to manage the volume.

It’s also important to have expertise internally within your physical outlets or stores. You need a clear line of communication to people on the ground so they can solve issues at scale in the most personal manner possible, face-to-face.


It is very rare situation for companies to not have a crisis management plan in place. Luckily, it’s even more rare to actually have to use this plan. It’s important to “stress test” what happens when the crisis alarm goes off. What makes for a social crisis? What is your first move?

It is imperative to clearly define internally when an issue needs to be escalated, and where it needs to be escalated to. Your first response should be planned according to a multitude of scenarios and be approved by your PR team. It’s not always possible to stop a social crisis from ensuing, but you can get ahead of it!


At the end of the day, it is the festive season and therefore reason to be cheerful. Help self-promote your hard work by showcasing the great customer interactions and examples of your company doing social customer service well.

Give your team a holiday budget to go the extra mile and make your customers feel special. It’s the old surprise and delight maneuver–make them feel special with every interaction. That’s the least you can do after they have braved the awful Black Friday sales lines. Deliver them a coffee in line, bring them a magazine to read, or for e-commerce build in a giveaway for your returning loyal customers.

Wherever you are in your holiday rush customer care prep – I hope you have found these insights helpful! For more insightful tips why not read our Definitive Guide to Social, Mobile Customer Service?


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