4 tips for optimising your customer service during the holidays
The gingerbread cookies are back on the shelves and the Christmas lights once again adorn the shopping streets. Just a little while longer and Santa Claus will be here again. The retail industry is getting ready for the busiest months of the year. Research shows that the percentage of purchases through online channels increased significantly during the pandemic. Customer service, brace yourself! Is your team ready for peak times? With these 4 tips, you can offer your customers a good, enjoyable and personal experience during the holidays!
1. Good preparation is half the job
Preparation for peak times is already in full swing in most customer service teams. Don’t get caught off guard by high volumes and unexpected questions. By properly organising your customer service team, you can avoid a lot of headaches!
The importance of a structured workflow and clear management
Provide a structured workflow in which every customer service agent knows exactly what his or her tasks are and to whom he or she reports. As a manager, you can also keep track of the performance levels of each of your agents with various online tools. Do they handle questions in a timely manner? Do they handle enough questions? And do they really help the customers with their individual needs? Using a game element, you can also motivate the customer service team to go that extra mile. Who handles the most questions during these busy months? The winner receives a gift card to a nice restaurant! A structured workflow and clear management are crucial during these busy months.
Link between customer service and website management
Most customer inquiries don’t just come out of the blue. What is the status of my order? Can I return my package? When will I get my money back? The customer service agents of web shops receive these kinds of questions daily. Use this input as a source of information for improving your website. For questions that recur often, it’s wise to check the status of the information provision on your website. Is the status of an order clearly visible for the customer? Do you have an FAQ in which you can include additional questions in order to optimise the provision of information to the customer? Customer service agents should be involved in determining and checking the FAQ on the website. This will reduce the number of contact moments with the customer and create efficiency within the team.
Let technology handle some of the volume
Time is money — and especially precious during these busy months. Efficiency is key! With the help of smart technologies, you can save time by having chatbots handle frequently asked questions. Many retail organisations use chatbots to increase customer satisfaction, and efficiency. And most customer service agents would agree that it’s nice to not have to constantly focus on the same questions. Making more time available for the more complex questions will also increase employee satisfaction within the customer service team. It’s now possible to easily create a chatbot yourself with the help of user-friendly platforms. Not that technical? No problem! Nowadays you don’t even need any programming knowledge to do it.
2. Never “from pillar to post” again
Excuse me ma’am, but I cannot answer this question by telephone. It would be best if you could contact one of my colleagues by e-mail. There is nothing more annoying for a customer than having to ask the same question several times, to several different people. By answering all questions within one online solution, you keep an overview, and at the same time prevent unpleasant situations where a customer is sent from pillar to post. Make sure that questions go to one central place and are then each distributed to the relevant employee, who can help the customer immediately.
3. Actively respond to concerns with media monitoring
Knowledge is power! It’s important to know what’s going on so you can respond effectively. Has a certain product suddenly become very popular? Is Kim Kardashian wearing those same gorgeous red pumps that you have in your assortment? By monitoring new trends, you’ll have a better handle on when to scale up or perhaps drastically reduce a price. You can also set priorities based on common industry concerns.
4. Win the customer’s trust
Service is one of the most important parts of the purchasing process. With good customer service, you win the customer’s trust and help to ensure that the customer will happily return for a subsequent purchase. Fast delivery may be more difficult to guarantee this year, but upscaling and improving good customer service is still in your hands.
Reliability is more important than ever
Why is it important to gain customer trust? McKinsey & Company emphasise in their research that in times of economic uncertainty, consumers are more sensitive to the perceived value of their purchase. Value in this context is defined as the combination of price, quality and service. Based on this, customers judge whether they should purchase a product. The value of a product increases enormously as trust in the brand increases. You can steer this trust with the right customer service approach.
Make the conversation personal
How do you ensure that people gain confidence in the brand? Take advantage of personalisation. Personalisation is about sending the right message at the right time to the right target group. Make sure that people feel engaged by responding to individual interests and with the help of personal and, above all, relevant communication. Create customer profiles and ensure that they are continuously updated.
Fun fact: the very first text message sent in 1992 had the text “Merry Christmas”. Surprise your customers with a nice Christmas wish or a surprising discount code. This will increase customer confidence — and that works wonders for your brand!
Take the conversation to a closed channel
Transparency is an important value for today’s online organisations. You can only gain trust by communicating openly and honestly through all your channels. However, this doesn’t alter the fact that some conversations should take place in a protected environment. Complaints are better handled personally, in private chats such as Facebook Messenger or Twitter DM. Nobody wants their Facebook or Twitter feed to become a public ‘wailing wall’. You’ll only scare off potential customers and, in a worst-case scenario, create a domino effect.
Never underestimate the impact of reviews
Distrust is in our culture, whether it‘s the distrust of institutions, the distrust of technological organisations or the distrust of commercial brands. We don’t know who or what to trust, but we do know one thing: we trust our fellow human beings, according to Trustpilot.com.
We look at others’ experiences in order to make our own judgments. In the words of Scott Cook: “A brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is – it is what customers tell each other it is.” Trustpilot research shows that 88% of consumers first check online reviews before purchasing a product. No less than 49% of consumers are actually influenced by reviews. So show yourself from your best side! Don’t give consumers a reason to complain and go the extra mile to make them feel truly appreciated in these uncertain times.
Stress during the holidays?
Above all, keep breathing, and make sure that the customer comes first. You can do this with the help of a structured workflow and clear management. Make sure the customer is never sent from pillar to post again and actively respond to concerns and new trends. The most important thing is to gain the customer’s trust. Make sure your customer has a pleasant and personal experience during the holidays! After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!