The holiday season is here and unlike any other time, it is the busiest time of the year. If you don't prepare your eCommerce shop to navigate this period of the year, then you will likely miss out on huge sales numbers. Great customer service is one of the crucial parts of this marketing puzzle.
Though it would be difficult to ensure a great customer experience for this heavier traffic but extremely important for your brand reputation.
According to Microsoft, 96% of consumers across the globe say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand.
Starting with Black Friday and lasting until the new year, your customer service quality is the one metric that can either make or break your holiday success. And based on your approach, your first-time buyers can become loyal customers. But without a proper game plan, you will surely struggle.
In this blog, we've listed 10 best practices for delivering top-notch customer service, especially during holidays. Read on to get tips on eCommerce holiday planning and find out how to offer great customer service to this increased traffic.
Why Need Special Game Plan to Manage Your Holiday Rush
Providing customer service in normal times and providing customer service during the holiday season is completely a different ball game. If you follow the same workflow that you have been following all year long then you will be in trouble. You need to come up with a plan to tackle the holiday rush head-on. You can't get overwhelmed by the pressure of customers and you need to handle all the customers efficiently.
According to Statista, holiday online retail sales for 2020 in the U.S. amounted to nearly 186 billion dollars, with the most money spent on Cyber Monday. Experts are predicting 2021 will break this record which you can see from this forecast-
On the other hand, Zendesk's report shows that 84 percent of consumers consider customer service to be a key factor in helping them decide whether to buy or not from that company. This is why you should know how to offer great customer service that will increase your profit margin at the end of the year.
You may also like to read: Importance of Customer Service in eCommerce Business.
How to Offer Great Customer Service That Elevate Your Business Growth
Here is the list of top 10 tips on how to offer great customer service that will not only help you get through the holiday rush but also help you all year long:
- Prioritize Your Customers' Needs
- Prepare a List of Questions Your Customers May Ask
- Train up Your Team to Use Soft and Polite Tone
- Build Community & Turn Your Customers into Brand Ambassadors
- Harness The Power of Social Media
- Include Live Chat to Your Website
- Personalize Your Interaction with Customers
- Simplify Your Return & Exchange Process
- Send Welcome Emails to Your New & Returning Customers
- Learn from Customer Feedback and Rectify Past Mistakes
Let's get into the details of these points.
1. Prioritize Your Customers' Needs based on Persona
The best way to provide excellent customer service is by knowing your customer demographic. When you are prepping your team you need to make sure they understand your business and also have in-depth knowledge of your business customer demographic.
Understanding your customer demographic involves understanding customers' online behavior, shopping patterns, product interests, and problems. Only then you and your team will have a strong sense of what your customers expect, their issues and how can you solve them.
93% of companies who segment their database by persona exceed lead and revenue goals.MarketingInsiderGroup
The best way to understand customer demographics is by preparing buyer personas. This will help deal with different type of customers who frequently visits your eCommerce store. You can provide a more personalized experience and ensure providing great customer service.
2. Prepare a List of Questions Your Customers May Ask
The best way to get ahead of your customer's service is by preparing ahead. Like, you can create a detailed FAQ section on your website that will answer all the questions of your customers. So, they don't have to look for solutions elsewhere or bother the support.
A banner that appears at the top or bottom of your website is a useful way to highlight need-to-know information for customers — including cut-off dates for guaranteed delivery, return policies. Also, update your product descriptions.
Here is a great example from the famous social media channel Instagram. They have a “known issues” section that takes the pressure off the customer service team if there’s a bug,
Additionally, a proper product description will answer a lot of questions of the customer and will also nudge them towards buying your products.
3. Train up Your Team to Use Soft and Polite Tone while Communicating
If you have a small online store and handle all the customer service single-handedly then you can skip this step.
But if you have a small to medium-sized team, then you need to prepare them to handle the holiday rush efficiently. A team is only as strong as its weakest member. Train your team to use a softer tone with every customer, keep patience when talking with customers.
Here is an example of the famous company American Eagle and their conversation with a customer who lost his/her package-
You can see clearly the tone the customer service member used to reassure the customer. We are not saying that your team members should do something like this. But this is a great example to take inspiration from.
Additionally, when you have a large team, it is possible that there may be overlapping roles. Although this will not be a problem at the other time of the year, during the holiday season it can create confusion. That is why you need to set clear roles among your team members. You can do that by-
- Creating a written job description for every member
- Preparing trainning and workflow manual
- Updating the internal documentation
- Directing the right customers to the right team member.
Moreover, the best way to prepare your team is by encouraging them to take ownership. That way they will learn more about the products and will be able to answer the customer's questions easily.
4. Build Community & Turn Your Customers into Brand Ambassadors
Creating a community for your loyal customer base can take a lot of things off your plate. Especially during the holiday season.
Users can post their questions, conduct discussions, and queries in the community. The great thing about having a community is, you don't have to solve their issues and answer their questions all the time. Instead, other users who have faced the same issues can answer them with a proper solution.
Or what will be great is if you can turn your customers into brand ambassadors. That way they will take some of your responsibilities and will also help in increasing our brand image.
5. Harness The Power of Social Media
We have seen a lot of businesses overlook their social media activities due to the pressure of their other communication channels. What they don't know is that they are ignoring a large customer base. It's true that social media can become overwhelming and chaotic sometimes.
However, if you can handle that chaos smartly, then you can create a loyal customer base. As a lot of customers will be leaving their comments, reviews (both negative/positive), queries, you need to stay vigilant to handle those carefully.
Starbuck's social media team noticed a customer in dire need of coffee ate at night. They immediately responded and used empathy to make a sale.
Remember we talked about adding a FAQ section on your website? Well, you can post those questions and answers on your social media channel, create polls to increase social activity, and that way you can offer great customer service.
6. Include Live Chat to Your Website
This is without a doubt a very important medium for providing great holiday customer service. Rarely you will find a website that doesn't have the live chat support option. If you use the live chat feature efficiently then it can also provide product suggestions upon customer request. So, if you haven't implemented a live chat feature on your eCommerce store then it is high time you add one.
About 69% of shoppers in the US demand live chat features99firm.
You can set some frequently asked questions that customer asks and it will increase the speed of solving the customer issues. Real human customer service is vital to your eCommerce business but utilizing a chatbot feature on your site is an excellent way to offer quick customer service for simple issues.
Because sometimes a chat agent member can make mistakes like the one from Nokia,
However, if you are running a multivendor marketplace using Dokan, then you are in luck. It has an amazing live chat module that will help you add live chat support with ease.
7. Personalize Your Interaction with Customers
Yes, we have been talking about great customer service means being able to solve customers' issues quickly and efficiently. But that's not entirely true. Offering great customer service is much more than that.
You need to go above and beyond to personally remind your customers how grateful you are for their business and why you care. Here are some tips to personalize your interaction with Customers:
- Adjust your tone and language to peerfectly match with customers knowledge. You have to assume that customers have zero knowledge.
- Ask your customers direct questions about the product and their preferences. Boost their confidence.
- Send follow-up messages to customers after each interaction to thank them and offer further assistance if needed.
The famous makeup brand Glossier is often recognized for its great customer service. Here is an email from them reaching out to a customer whose order is delayed,
8. Simplify Your Return & Exchange Process
You may have a great product in your hand and you have convinced your customers to buy them. However, as great as your products are it is not for everyone. However, if your return and exchange policy are problematic then it is more frustrating for the customers.
That is why you need to automate your return and exchange process and write in bold words the terms and conditions. When the customer is buying the product from you they should know all the details of the return and exchange policies so they don't complain about them later.
A famous music store Austin Bazaar makes it clear that their returns are totally free for the customer.
9. Send Welcome Emails to Your New & Returning Customers
No matter what anyone says or what other channels occur, sending emails is still one of the effective ways of marketing. And you should never underestimate the power of sending welcome emails to your new customers.
Study shows that the average open rate for welcome emails is a whopping 50% which makes them 86% more effective than standard newsletters.
Here is the famous Airlines company Virgin America’s get started a welcome email to their subscribers,
When new customers come to your website, they don't know about your product and they also have no idea what to expect. A welcome email can break that ice and will help them to recognize your brand. So, you need to get off on the right foot with welcome emails and follow-up emails after they’ve made a purchase.
However, don't forget your returning users as well. A follow-up email will remind them you didn't forget about them and you care for them similarly.
10. Learn from Customer Feedback & Rectify Past Mistakes
If you have been running your business for some time then it won't be your first holiday season. So, you need to revamp your holiday customer service protocol based on the feedback you received the past year.
In order to provide the best support possible, you need to give customers exactly what they want.
A great example of that is Uber Moto. In countries like India with a high amount of traffic congestion, and a lower Purchasing Power Parity when compared to more developed countries – Uber began to offer its services on 2 wheelers. 2 wheelers got people to their destination quickly, and at a lower cost too.
Sometimes, reviewing customer feedback will reveal issues you may not have even seen yourself, but it’s important to recognize the difference between constructive criticism and venting.
Bonus 1: Automate The Service Wherever Possible
Although we have prepared a long list to prepare for the holiday season, the truth is you will still be overwhelmed. And handling that pressure manually and with manpower alone is very risky and time-consuming.
So, you need to automate the process as much as you can. Like chatbots, return and exchange process, refund, etc.
Hopefully, if you follow these tips then you can ensure great customer service this holiday season.
Bonus 2: Offer Omnichannel Support to Your Audience
In this digital era, people have become more detailed oriented. They want to enquire about the product as much as possible before buying the product. So, they will send their inquiries using different channels. If you haven't implemented omnichannel support yet, then now is the time to do so.
Omnichannel support means interactions across social media, live chat conversations, in-store purchases, and more should come together into the same customer profile, so you can offer more helpful customer service. Also, this will enable you to have more personalized conversations with your customers.
Marketers using three or more channels in any one campaign earned a 287% higher purchase rate than those using a single-channel campaign.Omnisend
Value city furniture is the parent company of American Signature. They made a new Omnichannel system that allows their customers a chance to think about the purchase.
Their easy pass program allows shoppers to add a product to their online account while they are in a physical store. Later, they can buy that product from the comfort of their home.
Benefits of Offering Great Customer Service
Now we are going to list the benefits of delivering excellent customer support during this holiday season:
1. Establish Loyal Customer Base
Research conducted by Salesforce states that “91% of customers say a positive customer service experience makes them more likely to make a further purchase”.
Creating a loyal customer base is far more important than you think. Investing in creating a new customer base can be costly. It is 5 times more expensive than retaining old customers. Creating loyal customers through good customer service can therefore provide businesses with lucrative long-term relationships.
2. Increase Profits
Well, this is without a doubt is the most crucial benefit of providing excellent customer service. Even your product's prices are higher than others, by knowing how to offer great customer service you can combat those higher prices.
Whenever customers get good customer service, they don't complain about the higher prices. When your company has earned the reputation of providing good customer support, it gives you the leeway to charge more for your products and services because your buyers will pay a premium to feel valued and wanted.
3. Enhance Business Reputation
Word-of-mouth is a very important part of advertising. Positive word-of-mouth about your company can go a long way to increase your brand image in the market.
When you have an excellent record of providing great customer service, word will go out automatically and it will spread like wildfire. Ultimately, boosting your brand image. Customers are more than happy to tell their relatives and friends about how well your company has taken care of them.
4. Provide Competitive Advantage
What separates you from your competition? Yes, you have the same kind of products with a slight tweak of features. Unless you have an out of the box and successful marketing tactics, your excellent customer service will separate you from your competitor.
Customers often talk about how poor the customer service is. So, providing great holiday customer service can give you the competitive edge you are looking for.
5. Improve Employee Morale
Delivering great service for your customers can improve employee morale drastically. When they will see the respect you give to your customers and you are ready to go the extra mile for them, then the employees will also connect to your company's principles.
This can lead to a more pleasant environment and make employees feel good about what they do.
Satisfied customers will lead to more customers and more customers mean more profit. And one way to keep your customers satisfied is by withholding the standard of great customer service. You will see the benefits n a very short time.
Go the Extra Mile Ensuring Great Customer Service This Holiday Season
Well, we are at the end of your article and hopefully, we have delivered a proper guide on how to offer great customer service this holiday season.
However, at the end of the day, customer service is not limited only to the holiday season. It is a continuous process and you need to improve on it progressively. That is why we tried to add the points that will help you throughout the year.
Follow them carefully and you will reap the benefits in no time.
Do you have any further tips to add to our list? Do share your ideas in the comment section below.