You might not think it, but holidays play an important role in customer service.
Take Christmas, for example. I celebrate Christmas while my roommate celebrates Chanukah. To me, it would be odd — and probably a bit frustrating — if someone scheduled a call or meeting with me on Christmas. But, for my roommate, that's another workday for him. While he understands it's a global holiday, he still expects businesses to be available should he need help from their customer support team.
While your business doesn't need to throw an office party for every holiday that's going on around the world, it should know which ones your customers are celebrating. That way, you can adapt your marketing, sales, and customer service strategies around those dates and create a better customer experience during the holidays. This a great way to boost customer delight, too, because holidays are often stressful for some people, and the more friction you can remove, the more grateful they'll be.
Global Company Closure Holidays
1. New Year's Day - Jan 1
New Year's Day marks the start of a new year, and for many people, this also means the start of a new year's resolution. If you're working in customer service, be prepared for customers to act a little more ambitious since they've been re-energized by their time off.
2. Christmas Day - Dec. 25 in the U.S.
It's important to remember that Christmas isn't exclusively celebrated on December 25. Many countries will celebrate Christmas on different days between December and January, and some may give employees time off while others may not.
For customer service teams, Christmas — and the winter holiday season in general — is when service reps need to be at their best. People are buying last-minute gifts, making plans to celebrate, and many are working against the clock to get everything done on time.
This can be extremely stressful for some buyers, creating more friction in the customer experience. As a service rep, it's important to remain patient and understand that the customer's frustration isn't directed towards you. They're just trying to put together the best holiday possible for family, friends, and themselves.
3. Eid-al-Fitr - Jul. 19-20
Eid-al-Fitr is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. While in some countries, it's not a public holiday, it's a day that many Muslims will request off. In the U.S., Eid-al-Fitr is not a national holiday, but employers are required to make "reasonable accommodations" for a religious holiday if the employee requests it and more than 15 people are working at that business.
4. Yom Kippur - Sept. 15-16
Yom Kippur is an important Jewish holiday that's typically celebrated with fasting and prayer. Under Jewish law, Jewish people are required not to work during this holiday. However, in countries like the U.S., Yom Kippur isn't recognized as a national holiday, and employers aren't required to give time off. That being said, it's common for Jewish people to request time off to celebrate Yom Kippur.
5. Rosh Hoshana - Sept. 6-8
Rosh Hoshana is the Jewish New Year. Similar to Yom Kippur, it's not a national holiday in the U.S., but it is a day where Jewish people will request the day off from work.
6. Bodhi Day - Dec. 8
Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday where Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha, experienced spiritual enlightenment. For Buddhists, it is a day of quiet reflection, meditation, and prayer to commemorate the Buddha's achievement.
To support these customers, your service team should offer text-based channels like email and live chat where customers can communicate at their preferred pace and don't have to physically speak to a service rep.
Most countries will celebrate the day that they declared their independence. This is a particularly popular holiday in the U.S., but there are plenty of different independence day celebrations held all over the world. If you're working in customer service, it's important to empathize with customers and recognize that these people will be just as excited about their country's independence day as you are about yours.
8. Labor Day - Sept. 6 or May 1
Labor Day, or May Day as some people refer to it, recognizes the contributions that laborers make to a country. Since service personnel are categorized as laborers, most will get this day off from work.
1. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Jan 18.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day honors the birthday and life of Martin Luther King Jr. This weekend is usually slower for customer service departments because U.S. citizens are given the Monday off. The Tuesday after, however, is typically busier for service teams since people are returning to work from the long weekend.
2. Boxing Day - Dec. 26
Boxing Day originated in the United Kingdom but is still celebrated by former British colonies like Canada. Boxing Day is celebrated on the day after Christmas, which is also a day that people commonly return unused or unwanted gifts. In fact, in 2018, the National Retail Federation estimated that over $95 billion worth of holiday gifts were returned by January 2019.
If you work in customer service — especially in the retail industry — you should expect more questions about your company's return and refund policies during this time of the year.
3. President's Day - Feb. 15
President's Day is a U.S. holiday that celebrates George Washington's birthday, as well as all of the other presidents who have been elected in the U.S. While most U.S. citizens get the day off, it's common for call centers and customer service teams to work on this holiday.
4. Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day - Nov. 11
In the United States, Veteran's Day honors all of the people who have served in the United States Armed Forces. In Canada and the U.K., Remembrance Day celebrates the end of World War I. While there isn't too much for support teams to prep for on this holiday, it's important to thank any veterans or military families for their service — this is a nice thing to do even when it's not Veteran's or Remembrance Day.
5. Memorial Day - May 31
Memorial Day is a U.S. holiday that honors people who have died while serving in the U.S. military. On this day, your team should be conscious that some customers may have family or friends that have passed while serving, and Memorial Day is an important holiday to honor their memory.
6. Thanksgiving - Nov. 26
Both the United States and Canada celebrate Thanksgiving. In the U.S., Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday of November, whereas in Canada, it's held on the second Monday of October. This year, Canada celebrated Thanksgiving on October 12.
7. Victoria Day - May 24
Victoria Day is a Canadian holiday that celebrates the birth of Queen Victoria. This holiday informally marks the beginning of the Canadian summer season as it's traditionally held on the last Monday before May 25.
1. Benito Juárez Day - Mar. 15
Benito Juarez Day is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the accomplishments of former president, Benito Juarez. Juarez is known for his resistance to French occupation in Mexico during his time in office as well as his significant contributions to the Mexican constitution.
2. Holy Week - Mar. 28 - Apr. 3
Holy Week is celebrated around the world, but it's particularly significant in LATAM countries. Many will close offices to observe days like Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, then reopen following Easter Sunday.
If you're celebrating Holy Week, or have partners or customers living in areas that do, you can use inbound service strategies to establish brand presence without overwhelming your customers. For example, if your business hours are changing during the weekend, you can update your chatbot's greeting to proactively alert customers.
3. Cinco De Mayo - May 5
Not to be mistaken for its independence day, Cinco De Mayo celebrates Mexico's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla. To celebrate, schools are closed and most businesses shut down for the day, too.
4. Tiradentes Day - Apr. 21
Tiradentes Day is a Brazilian holiday that celebrates the death of revolutionary, Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier, who gave his life for Brazil's independence in 1792. Today, his death is celebrated with schools and businesses closing to honor his martyrdom for Brazil.
5. Carnival - Feb. 12 - Feb. 17
While Carnival is celebrated in a few South American countries, in Brazil, it's a government-mandated holiday. Most Brazilians get a week off to celebrate with festivities.
If you have a customer success team, this is a great opportunity to exercise proactive customer service. If your customers are away for a week, you may want to send them a "welcome back" email to re-engage them with your company.
1. Whit Monday - May 24
Whit Monday is a Christian holiday that's popular in many European countries. It's celebrated after Pentecost, so the exact date changes each year. Most countries that celebrate Whit Monday do so by closing schools and businesses, meaning it's likely a slower day for customer service teams.
2. Ascension Day - May 13
Ascension Day is a Christian holiday celebrated in many different countries throughout Europe. This includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Sweden, and Germany.
3. All Saints Day - Nov.1
Most European countries recognize All Saints Day as a public holiday. On this day, Christians pray for relatives and loved ones who have passed.
Similar to Memorial Day, customer service teams should be conscious of this holiday if they're working with European customers. Most will have the day off from work and some may be more sensitive to friction points because they're dealing with memories of people they've lost.
4. Good Friday - Apr. 2
Though we talked a little about Good Friday when we discussed Holy Week, it's a very popular Christian holiday in Europe as well. It falls on the Friday before Easter and most businesses will close to allow their employees to celebrate with family and friends.
If you're closing for Good Friday, it's important to let customers know how to get in touch with your support team if they need help over the long weekend. When it comes to religious holidays, you can't assume that your entire customer base celebrates the holiday even if most people at your business do. Chances are some customers and employees don't share the same religious beliefs and, therefore, are expecting your team to be available even though you may see it as a holiday.
5. Bastille Day - Jul. 14
Bastille Day, or Fête Nationale, is a French holiday that celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution. Celebrations are held throughout France and many businesses close for the day.
1. Diwali - Nov. 4
Diwali is the Indian festival of lights. It's usually celebrated over five days with celebrations, parades, and prayer. Though it's very popular in India, it's also celebrated in places like Singapore, Fiji, and Myanmar, where it's seen as a public holiday, and schools and businesses are closed.
2. Chinese New Year - Feb. 12
Chinese New Year marks the start of a new year on the Chinese calendar. While this holiday started in China, people all over the world celebrate it. If your customers celebrate Chinese New Year, be sure to wish them a "Happy New Year" around Valentine's Day.
3. Qingming Festival - Apr. 4
The Qingming Festival, also known as "Tomb Sweeping Day," is a holiday that's celebrated in China as well as many of its neighboring countries like Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand. On this day, people honor loved ones who they've lost by cleaning or "tomb sweeping" their gravesites. Similar to what we talked about with Memorial Day and All Saints Day, this is a celebration where your service team should be aware of the difficult experiences that some customers may be recalling.
4. Dragon Boat Festival - Jun. 12-14
The Dragon Boat Festival is held on the fifth day of the fifth month in the Chinese calendar. This three-day festival honors the life of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese scholar in the third century B.C.E. While this holiday originated in China, many surrounding countries like Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia also celebrate it.
5. Mid-Autumn Festival - Sept. 21
Aside from Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival is considered the biggest festival in China. It's celebrated during the eighth lunar month of the Chinese calendar when the moon is typically at its fullest. Neighboring countries, like Japan, Vietnam, and Korea, celebrate this festival as well, but each has varying traditions depending on which country or city that you visit.
6. Golden Week - Apr. 29 - May 5
Golden Week in Japan celebrates four different Japanese holidays in one week. There's also a Golden Week in China, which is celebrated this year between Oct.1 and Oct. 7.
If you're supporting customers who are celebrating these holidays, be sure to set clear expectations for communication during this time. Some may want to carry on business as usual, while others may want a break from the action and enjoy their time away from a customer service case.
7. Seollal Holiday - Feb. 12
Seollal Holiday marks the first day of the year on the Korean calendar. Celebrations usually last three days and most South Korean's are given New Year's Day off from work.
It doesn't matter if you're an international business or not, this resource is handy for any company with a growing customer base. After all, you never know who will reach out to your business and what need's they'll have over time. Researching and acknowledging the holidays that your customers celebrate will help you understand who your target audience is and what traditions and customs they value most.
Regardless of who you're providing customer support to, read on to learn what it takes to provide good customer service.
Originally published Nov 20, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated November 20 2020