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      How Your Online Business Can Nail Customer Service During the Holiday Rush

      The holiday season is upon us once more, and that means many things for your business. On the one hand, you’re about to enter the most lucrative period of the year. However, you’ll also be considerably busier than usual, and will likely need to deal with a much higher number of customer support queries.

      To make sure your support can cope with the holiday rush, you’ll want to plan ahead. Strengthening and preparing your support team is key to helping them provide assistance for a huge influx of stressed customers. If you do that, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of the season more effectively.

      In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s particularly important to provide quality customer service throughout the holidays. We’ll also offer some tips for how you can prepare your business and support team in advance. Let’s get started!

      Why Customer Service Matters Most During the Holidays

      If you’re anything like us, you’re getting busier by the day preparing for the holiday season. However, this isn’t just a time for buying gifts and eating good food. It’s also the most critical period for businesses, as many companies make the bulk of their yearly sales during the last few weeks of the year.

      However, to make sure your business takes full advantage of this period, you’ll need to plan ahead carefully. There are plenty of ways to ensure that you’re ready for the holiday rush, and one of the most crucial is making sure your customer service will function flawlessly.

      Of course, providing high-quality customer support is always necessary. During the holiday rush, however, you will most likely be inundated with even more support queries, questions, and confused customers than at any other time of the year. And because of high stress levels, you’re also more likely to end up dealing with some frustrated and potentially antagonistic customers.

      This might sound intimidating. By preparing in advance and making a solid plan, however, you can ensure that your customer service will remain top-notch even under less-than-ideal circumstances. Not only will this help your customers, but it will be a huge benefit to you and your customer service agents as well.

      10 Ways to Prepare Your Customer Service for the Holiday Rush

      If you’re wondering: “When should I start to prepare for the holidays?”, our answer is right now! It’s never too early to start planning for the year’s final month, but having a plan in place at least before the beginning of December is highly recommended.

      With that in mind, we’re going to guide you through some of the most important steps you’ll want to take. Here are 10 things you can do prepare your customer service before Santa arrives!

      1. Analyze Last Year’s Data

      A perfect place to start your planning is to look back at the previous year. This will involve examining the volume of calls and messages you received, finding out what the most common pain points were, and trying to understand where your service may have been lacking.

      Having this data at hand will be a huge help when formulating a plan for the upcoming rush. You’ll be able to improve in areas where you’ve struggled previously, and you can also preemptively provide information for the most common customer questions. In turn, this will cut down on the number of queries your team has to field.

      How you go about doing this analysis will naturally depend on your toolset. If you’re using software like Zendesk or Awesome Support, you can just view the statistics and queries from previous years. You should also liaise with your support and marketing teams, as they’ll be best equipped to tell you where you need to focus your attention.

      Here are some vital questions you’ll want to be able to answer:

      • How much larger is the volume of support queries you receive during the holiday shopping period, compared with the rest of the year?
      • What are the most common questions customers have?
      • How are most people choosing to contact you — via email, phone, chat, or some other medium?

      Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list. However, these answers will help you immensely throughout the rest of your preparations.

      2. Decide Which Support Channels to Focus On

      It’s essential that you know where to focus your attention during the holiday season. At first glance, it might seem like the best route to use every conceivable method of contact, but this can lead to spreading yourself too thin.

      Imagine that you have to simultaneously juggle phone lines, live chat, emails, and social media, in addition to updating your content and dealing with orders and shipping. In this scenario, you’ll likely see most — if not all — of those channels suffer in quality. This is especially true if you only have a small support team.

      To avoid this problem, you’ll need to consider which channels of communication to focus on. The best way to start is by looking at which channels are most commonly used by your customers. As we mentioned in the previous section, looking at earlier years’ support queries will give you a good baseline to work from. However, you’ll also want to consider which channels are most popular during the rest of the year.

      For example, if you find that your customers are primarily calling in or using your contact form throughout the year, it’s fair to assume that these will be the busiest channels during the holidays as well. Knowing this will let you assign more people to handle those channels, and avoid keeping customers waiting.

      3. Prepare for Quick Scaling

      The truth is that no matter how well you plan, the holidays are never completely predictable. This means you’ll need to have a contingency plan, in case you need to scale up or down with little notice.

      For example, what if you face twice as many support requests as you anticipated? You’ll need to be able to assign more time and manpower to deal with them, while also keeping the rest of your operations afloat. In this scenario, you might consider hiring remote seasonal workers to help out.

      This is something many companies do to handle the increased volume of work during the holidays. Hiring temporary workers gives you the freedom to change the size of your team at almost a moment’s notice. For example, you could use a service like PartnerHero to outsource some or all of your customer support work during this period.

      Naturally, you’ll need to ensure that these seasonal workers have all the assets and information they need, which is something we’ll discuss later on. With the right preparations in place, they should be able to slot into your normal operations with little friction and help you deal with almost any unexpected situation.

      4. Keep Your Customers Informed

      Arguably the most significant way to avoid customer frustration is to manage their expectations. If your support is changing during the holidays, you need to make that clear as early as possible. They’ll need to be aware of when and how they will be able to contact you.

      It’s also smart to let customers know how your other operations are likely to alter. For example, will returns take longer to process, and will they need to wait a bit for responses to their emails? By letting them know what to expect, you can keep them informed and minimize the risk of frustration or hostility.

      One strategy you can use to your advantage is sometimes referred to as “underpromise and overdeliver.” The idea is that you prepare customers for potential issues that may arise, but then work to avoid those problems anyway. This lets you exceed their expectations.

      Overall, our recommendation is to be honest about what customers can expect and to make any changes clear through as many channels as possible. That includes on your website, social media, and even your email list. This will ensure that the bulk of your customers know what to expect.

      5. Use Automation to Your Advantage

      When the season gets going and you find yourself swamped in tasks, every second will count. To make sure you can use your available time most efficiently, you’ll want to consider automating tasks whenever it’s possible to do so.

      For instance, you can create an automated workflow using software like Help Scout. This can be set up to redirect customer queries to the person or team best suited to deal with them. Not only will this save time on your end, but it will also keep waiting times down for your stressed customers.

      Workflows also let you handle plenty of other tasks automatically, such as tracking products to let you know right away when stocks are low. You can then deal with the potential issue before it becomes a full-blown problem.

      There are plenty of other ways you can use automation during the holidays. One of the best strategies is to set up an AI-driven chatbot that can help you deal with the most common questions. This can dramatically cut down on the amount of time the human members of your team need to spend on customer support requests.

      6. Implement a Triage System for Support Queries

      In addition to automating parts of your support system, you can also optimize it by introducing a triage process. This involves sorting tasks and support queries into categories depending on their urgency. You can then prioritize more urgent matters first, while non-emergency tasks can be dealt with later.

      Implementing triage into your customer service will let you focus your attention on what matters most at any given time. The most pressing and time-sensitive tasks can be dealt with right away, minimizing the risk of making your customers feel frustrated and hostile.

      An easy way to do this is to simply categorize each customer query according to priority. If an issue needs to be dealt with immediately, you might label it as “critical,” while if it needs to be looked at within 1-2 hours it could be labeled “urgent.” Issues that can wait a day or two, on the other hand, can be noted as “low priority.”

      However, you need to remember that you’ll still have to actually deal with all requests. If you find that you’re never getting around to handling low-priority tasks, you may need to consider scaling your team up temporarily by assigning additional personnel.

      7. Update Your Content and Knowledge Base

      Earlier, we discussed the importance of keeping your customers informed. However, this extends beyond just letting them know about changes to your schedule. By making sure that all of your content and assets are up-to-date, you can save both customers and yourself a lot of time and hassle.

      For example, if you provide a knowledge base with information about your products and services, you can use it to answer most of the most commonly asked questions during the holiday period. In many cases, your support team can simply refer customers to relevant knowledge base articles, answering their queries quickly.

      For this to work, you’ll obviously need to ensure that you provide as much documentation and information as possible. It also needs to be thoroughly updated, to ensure that you don’t cause additional confusion among your customers.

      If you need to set up a knowledge base, you can use a plugin such as Heroic Knowledge Base. If you already have one, on the other hand, you should perform a content audit well before the holiday rush kicks in. This can also involve reviewing similar resources, such as your FAQ page.

      8. Learn How to Help Stressed Customers

      The holidays are intended to offer relaxation and fun, but we all know that it can also be a thoroughly stressful period. As such, you’re likely to deal with a few customers who are particularly difficult, frustrated, or even outright antagonistic.

      Naturally, you’ll need to prepare in order to help them out and avoid angering them further. Dealing with difficult customers is a delicate task. The most valuable advice we can offer is to train your support team to stay calm and professional at all times, no matter what a customer might say.

      In addition, here are some ways you can approach particularly challenging customers:

      • Listen. If the customer feels like they’re being deflected or ignored, they’re only going to get angrier and less responsive.
      • Be quick. Naturally, your goal is to be as a fast as possible with all support queries. However, it can be worth prioritizing more stressed customers, to avoid further incident.
      • Treat them like people. We discussed the value of automation earlier, but in tough cases, it’s better to take a personal approach. Make it clear to the customer that you’re handling their issue and care about their frustration, so they don’t feel like they’re being treated as a nuisance.

      In short, by listening to the customer and being prepared to meet them halfway, you can usually solve even the most heated of issues.

      9. Prepare to Provide Compensation to Customers

      In some situations, you may need to compensate customers. Especially in the most volatile or challenging cases, a simple gift can help to smooth things over immensely. Some customers might even demand this kind of treatment.

      Providing compensation can help to soften even the most upset customers. It can also win back some goodwill. Your goal is to ensure that the customer considers using your business again in the future, despite their current grievances.

      Naturally, you’ll want to be very careful about how and when you compensate customers. In some cases, such as when they’ve received a faulty product, you may be legally obligated to provide a new item or a refund.

      However, you can also provide compensation if a customer has had a particularly difficult experience, either with your business or your customer service. This could be in the form of a small gift, a coupon, a discount, or anything else that’s convenient but useful to the customer.

      10. Take Care of Your Support Team

      Finally, while it’s obviously necessary to take care of your customers, you shouldn’t ignore the people on your own front lines. Beginning on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the holiday rush is a stressful experience for everyone, especially those who have to field questions and requests from wound-up customers.

      Depending on the size of your business, you can take care of your support team in several ways. Naturally, you should make sure they have everything they’ll need to do their jobs without incident.

      However, it’s also nice to reward your support team further, to show your appreciation for all their hard work. Even something as simple as the occasional gift, like seasonally appropriate sweets and drinks, can do a lot to raise morale during this hectic season.

      Holiday Shopping Made Easy

      The holidays are meant to be a time of joy, but it can be hard to feel merry if your customer service is strained. By preparing well in advance, you can put a plan into place, train your team, and inform your customers — providing effective and efficient support as a result.

      Do you have any questions about how to handle customer support during the holiday rush? Find us on social and let’s start the conversation!

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      An Introduction to the Kubernetes DNS Service


      The Domain Name System (DNS) is a system for associating various types of information – such as IP addresses – with easy-to-remember names. By default most Kubernetes clusters automatically configure an internal DNS service to provide a lightweight mechanism for service discovery. Built-in service discovery makes it easier for applications to find and communicate with each other on Kubernetes clusters, even when pods and services are being created, deleted, and shifted between nodes.

      The implementation details of the Kubernetes DNS service have changed in recent versions of Kubernetes. In this article we will take a look at both the kube-dns and CoreDNS versions of the Kubernetes DNS service. We will review how they operate and the DNS records that Kubernetes generates.

      To gain a more thorough understanding of DNS before you begin, please read An Introduction to DNS Terminology, Components, and Concepts. For any Kubernetes topics you may be unfamiliar with, you could read An Introduction to Kubernetes.

      What Does the Kubernetes DNS Service Provide?

      Before Kubernetes version 1.11, the Kubernetes DNS service was based on kube-dns. Version 1.11 introduced CoreDNS to address some security and stability concerns with kube-dns.

      Regardless of the software handling the actual DNS records, both implementations work in a similar manner:

      • A service named kube-dns and one or more pods are created.
      • The kube-dns service listens for service and endpoint events from the Kubernetes API and updates its DNS records as needed. These events are triggered when you create, update or delete Kubernetes services and their associated pods.
      • kubelet sets each new pod’s /etc/resolv.conf nameserver option to the cluster IP of the kube-dns service, with appropriate search options to allow for shorter hostnames to be used:


        search namespace.svc.cluster.local svc.cluster.local cluster.local
        options ndots:5
      • Applications running in containers can then resolve hostnames such as example-service.namespace into the correct cluster IP addresses.

      Example Kubernetes DNS Records

      The full DNS A record of a Kubernetes service will look like the following example:


      A pod would have a record in this format, reflecting the actual IP address of the pod:

      Additionally, SRV records are created for a Kubernetes service’s named ports:


      The result of all this is a built-in, DNS-based service discovery mechanism, where your application or microservice can target a simple and consistent hostname to access other services or pods on the cluster.

      Search Domains and Resolving Shorter Hostnames

      Because of the search domain suffixes listed in the resolv.conf file, you often won’t need to use the full hostname to contact another service. If you’re addressing a service in the same namespace, you can use just the service name to contact it:


      If the service is in a different namespace, add it to the query:


      If you’re targeting a pod, you’ll need to use at least the following:


      As we saw in the default resolv.conf file, only .svc suffixes are automatically completed, so make sure you specify everything up to .pod.

      Now that we know the practical uses of the Kubernetes DNS service, let’s run through some details on the two different implementations.

      Kubernetes DNS Implementation Details

      As noted in the previous section, Kubernetes version 1.11 introduced new software to handle the kube-dns service. The motivation for the change was to increase the performance and security of the service. Let’s take a look at the original kube-dns implementation first.


      The kube-dns service prior to Kubernetes 1.11 is made up of three containers running in a kube-dns pod in the kube-system namespace. The three containers are:

      • kube-dns: a container that runs SkyDNS, which performs DNS query resolution
      • dnsmasq: a popular lightweight DNS resolver and cache that caches the responses from SkyDNS
      • sidecar: a sidecar container that handles metrics reporting and responds to health checks for the service

      Security vulnerabilities in Dnsmasq, and scaling performance issues with SkyDNS led to the creation of a replacement system, CoreDNS.


      As of Kubernetes 1.11 a new Kubernetes DNS service, CoreDNS has been promoted to General Availability. This means that it’s ready for production use and will be the default cluster DNS service for many installation tools and managed Kubernetes providers.

      CoreDNS is a single process, written in Go, that covers all of the functionality of the previous system. A single container resolves and caches DNS queries, responds to health checks, and provides metrics.

      In addition to addressing performance- and security-related issues, CoreDNS fixes some other minor bugs and adds some new features:

      • Some issues with incompatibilities between using stubDomains and external services have been fixed
      • CoreDNS can enhance DNS-based round-robin load balancing by randomizing the order in which it returns certain records
      • A feature called autopath can improve DNS response times when resolving external hostnames, by being smarter about iterating through each of the search domain suffixes listed in resolv.conf
      • With kube-dns would always resolve to, even if the pod doesn’t actually exist. CoreDNS has a “pods verified” mode that will only resolve successfully if a pod exists with the right IP and in the right namespace.

      For more information on CoreDNS and how it differs from kube-dns, you can read the Kubernetes CoreDNS GA announcement.

      Additional Configuration Options

      Kubernetes operators often want to customize how their pods and containers resolve certain custom domains, or need to adjust the upstream nameservers or search domain suffixes configured in resolv.conf. You can do this with the dnsConfig option of your pod’s spec:


      apiVersion: v1
      kind: Pod
        namespace: example
        name: custom-dns
          - name: example
            image: nginx
        dnsPolicy: "None"
            - custom.dns.local

      Updating this config will rewrite a pod’s resolv.conf to enable the changes. The configuration maps directly to the standard resolv.conf options, so the above config would create a file with nameserver and search custom.dns.local lines.


      In this article we covered the basics of what the Kubernetes DNS service provides to developers, showed some example DNS records for services and pods, discussed how the system is implemented on different Kubernetes versions, and highlighted some additional configuration options available to customize how your pods resolve DNS queries.

      For more information on the Kubernetes DNS service, please refer to the official Kubernetes DNS for Services and Pods documentation.

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