Holiday shopping can be quite a stressful period of time for many people. All these special shopping days between now and New Year are just around the corner. This probably means more website traffic, more sales, and more customer demands for your eCommerce business.
By the way, during the holiday season, businesses can process up to 74% more customer inquiries and complaints than on a typical day. Without good preparation for the huge influx of customers during the holiday season, your staff can become overwhelmed and provide poor customer service, which can increase customer dissatisfaction.
If you don’t get your eCommerce store up and running during this special period of the year, you’re likely to miss out on a huge amount of sales. Great customer service is one of the most important parts of any marketing strategy, especially during the holiday season.
Why You Should Care
Customers strive to find the most perfect and special gifts for their families and friends. And for this they are ready to go to great lengths. More than ever, people are looking for outstanding ideas, exploring potential products and hunting for the best deals.
This means that business owners and marketers should make it their top priority to provide an enjoyable and smooth customer experience during customers shopping journey.
With many consumers starting their holiday shopping as early as October, it becomes obvious why you need to start preparing for the holiday season right now!
First of all, we must understand that meeting customer expectations during the holiday season and during normal times are completely different tasks for you and your support team. Even if you already have an outstanding team, you should reclassify them into holiday customer service.
Let’s take a look at the statistics. According to the Netomi report, 61% of customers believe that excellent customer service is defined by having quick problem resolution.
And let’s imagine the situation, how difficult it is to serve customers quickly and efficiently, when you receive a dozen requests and each customer is sure that his issue is much more important than others.
Customers usually expect fairly quick response time, but if we are talking about holiday shopping your response time should be lightning-fast. And they need to get their issues resolved really quickly so they can get back on their to-do lists for the holiday season.
Now it’s time to think carefully: Do you need to introduce some new strategies on improving customer satisfaction? Do you need to hire a few extra agents? Do you need to involve new practices or rules for your team during the holiday season?
Of course, it’s impossible to predict everything, but it’s definitely possible to prepare your business for the holiday rush in advance and increase your sales and customer retention.
We have rounded up the most useful tips you can use to get your customer service ready for the holiday season. Read on to find out the details!
1. Train up your support team.
Everyone appreciates friendly service. But the agent overloaded with the requests may not seem as friendly as he really is. And the customer who has been waiting a long time for a response has much less patience.
Stressful situations are inevitable for both your agents and customers. That’s why it’s so important to get your team ready for the holiday season. Only a well-trained team will perform properly under stressful conditions. But how to train your team? Let’s consider several areas your team should cope with:
- The essential and most obvious area is your customer service platform. Make sure to use modern and useful apps to provide your customers with the best experience. Double check with your team how all platform features work.
- Make sure your team knows everything about the products and services you sell. But just remember, when was the last time you tested their knowledge of your product? This is especially useful if you have a lot of new products or services coming up lately.
- Prepare the list of problems and questions and let your agents solve them using several methods. Sometimes there are several possible options for solving the same problems. Make sure your agents are aware of at least few possible options to serve different customers effectively.
In theory, your team is already familiar with the systems you use. But learning from time to time will allow you to achieve the best results not only during the holidays, but also during normal times.
2. Include live-chat.
Live-chat support is becoming a must for retail and e-commerce platforms these days. Many people have urgent and complex requests that they would like to resolve in real time.
Since people are already accustomed to instant messaging, this reduces the tolerance for long response times when contacting support. Live-chat eliminates this inconvenience as it offers real-time communication. This means that every time a visitor starts typing their message, your agent is already ready to take care of the problem right away.
Live-chat helps improve customer satisfaction, which is an important aspect in customer service. And customer satisfaction increases the chances of their retention, and therefore, increases the probability of their next purchase in your store.
3. Implement a chat-bot.
During the holiday season, the number of requests to the support service increases several times. Fortunately, many of the requests are quite simple, so they don’t need to be answered by a real human.
Add a 24/7 chat-bot to your holiday customer service, it can answer common questions in seconds. The clear advantage is that it can also support multiple people at once. It can actively pop up to ask questions to website visitors through various triggers that you set up yourself (for example, a user visits a certain page or clicks on the chat launcher).
If you do not offer 24/7 customer support, then with chat-bots you can provide your potential customers with the opportunity to get answers at any time. The chat-bot will not get tired and will not be distracted by anything, whether it is 12 am or 12 pm.
With the help of chat-bot, part of the workload will be reduced on your customer service agents. This means they will have more time and energy to focus on more complex issues that require human input, instead of having to deal with repetitive requests over and over again.
4. Hire extra staff.
During the holiday season, your customer service will be overwhelmed with requests and complaints. The current labor force may not be enough to serve all the requests in a timely manner.
That’s why, another helpful tip here is the ability to hire extra customer support staff to help you manage your holiday volume. Consider hiring people from different time zones to provide you with additional coverage.
So hiring temporary staff who can take over the load and work with your core team is a great holiday customer service strategy.But, in this case, don’t forget to make sure every new hire knows they are being hired on a temporary basis.
5. Improve self-service options.
What does it mean? The self-service option means providing your customers with resources and capabilities to resolve their issues and requests on their own without having to contact your customer service directly.
Nowadays, self-service options are win-win. This not only reduces the burden on your agents, but also gives your customers the opportunity to solve their problem on their own right now. If you don’t already have a FAQ page, you’d better create one as soon as possible.
If you already have an FAQ page, review with your support team if you need to update the list of questions or add some helpful sections and sources (videos, guides, etc.).
Slack has a great example of a self-service page.
And remember: every question that a customer can find an answer to, will not become a ticket or a chat.
6. Use social media.
Social media is an important marketing tool regardless of the season. Make sure your team monitors social media reviews regularly, as well as answering any questions a customer or potential buyer may have.
You can also use social media as an additional customer self-service channel. Post frequently asked questions and answers there. It will also encourage your clients to create a community where they can share experiences and help each other solve issues they have already encountered.
7. Review your last year holiday report.
If this isn’t your first holiday season, you have a great opportunity to explore last year’s trends. You just need to review your holiday customer service reports based on the feedback you received last year.
By reviewing customers’ feedback from time to time you can investigate the issues that you may not have even noticed before. But here it’s important to understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism.
8. Motivate and encourage your staff.
Your customer service agents are the key people who start creating the holiday spirit for your customers. But who will put them in the holiday mood? Just like your clients, your team deserves care and encouragement.
Make sure all their efforts are properly rewarded. And don’t forget to thank your staff for their incredible contributions. If possible, offer them an extra day off or holiday dinner. When you keep your employees happy and motivated, they will in turn go above and beyond to keep your customers happy.
Holiday season is a great opportunity to attract new customers and increase your sales. But you have to be careful here, if you can’t meet their expectations during the holiday season, they will remember this bad experience even when the holiday season is over.
Give yourself and your team plenty of time to prepare. I know holiday shopping is the busiest time and both sellers and customers are nervous. Your business needs to be well prepared so that every customer who comes to you can do nothing but leave you positive feedback.