E-commerce and the holidays: how do you best prepare for the upcoming higher volumes?

E-commerce and holidays OBI4wanThe most important period for e-commerce is just around the corner. In addition to Christmas and Sinterklaas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, that follows three days later, are also steadily gaining more attention in the Netherlands. Postal companies are collapsing under the huge number of packages that need to be delivered for the holidays and the tension surrounding whether these packages will be delivered on time is increasing among consumers, who are turning en masse to the customer service departments of web shops, where service agents try to satisfy them with their best smile. How exactly can you best prepare your service department properly for being able to handle the increasing number of questions and concerns? You’ll find out how with a number of tips put together in this article!

Increasing volumes for web shops in the fourth quarter

In 2018, there was a turnover of around € 7.2 billion by Dutch web shops in the last quarter, according to figures from Thuiswinkel.org. This means a growth of 11% compared to 2017. The expectations for 2019 are therefore high. And the number of questions with which people are approaching web shops is also growing.

A search of the mentions of ten major e-commerce players in the Netherlands shows an increase in volume during the fourth quarter of the year. In the graph below, it can be seen that public messages are directly aimed at web shops. Add to that as well the number of messages via closed channels, such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, WhatsApp and live chat.

Ecommerce mentions Q4 2018 OBI4wanMentions given to 10 main Dutch web shops in Q4 2018

If the trend of the last 3 years continues, the volume will be expected to increase further, starting from this week (week 47 of the year). So, time to brace yourself for providing the best service possible!

The growing importance of good customer service during the holidays

In the current landscape, customers are not always loyal so good service is of vital importance for web shops. One bad experience in the field of service can quickly result in a customer switching over to a competitor. And the fact that in 2018 about 6% of the packages were still delivered to late during the festive period doesn’t necessarily help either. The promise that many web shops make regarding fast delivery is not always fulfilled and angry customers are the first to then turn to the customer service departments of these web shops.

“Customer loyalty is primarily the product of superior service quality and the trust that such service entails,” according to David Gefen in his research into loyalty within e-commerce.

Yet it is precisely the service department that can take the sting out of the conversation and take that extra step for the customer. First of all, it is important to provide consistent service through every service channel that you offer. The channels through which you offer service depend to a large extent on the wishes of the customer and the chosen strategy. “Being active everywhere” is not always the right choice. Choosing the right channels for webcare also depends on whether you can meet the wishes and the requirements that they impose with regard to the speed, convenience and quality of the solution offered. Especially during the holidays.

Make sure you have a good, and complete, overview of each and every message that comes in. Sort by channel and respond consistently. In addition, use real-time insights to manage the webcare team when necessary.

The predictive power of online data

Organisations at the moment are taking major steps in a more data-driven approach. For example, data can also serve as a good predictor for occupation. Social media expert Marcel Vergonet says:

“I recommend analysing what people have said in previous years, before and during these holidays. Search into the data for relevant messages that relate directly to your organisation, products or services. You’ll probably discover something there that can help you in preparing for this year, or you may be inspired by other campaigns. How cool is that, monitoring specific needs and responding to them in real time? You don’t get more relevant than that! ”

Also take into account trends during the holidays, for example. In addition to the aforementioned Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Singles Day is now also breaking records in the Netherlands. Data from previous years can be a good predictor of success, and therefore volume, for the coming years.

3 tips for efficient webcare during the holidays

To help get you ready for these upcoming busy holidays, here’s a list of some of the tips and tricks regarding webcare:

  • Make sure that all the arrangements are clear for the webcare team. Use a webcare policy for this, stating who handles which questions, how to respond to complaints and what the expected response time is. Report on these metrics to make the best possible use of the available employees, in the right channels.
  • Set up searches in your social media monitoring or webcare tool that make you appear even broader than your own brand. Consider, for example, monitoring media messages regarding packages and online orders because these messages can amplify consumer concerns and therefore impact volume. By being aware of this early on, you’ll more likely be able to scale-up in time.
  • Let technology take care of part of your volume. This is possible both upfront and behind the scenes. A chatbot offers an extra set of hands for existing processes and automatically takes care of cases regarding questions about packages and deliveries. We’ve seen it for years with bol.com’s Billie, but nowadays chatbots are more accessible than ever. Thanks to easy, user-friendly chatbot platforms, anyone is now able to develop a chatbot that can already easily take care of a large part of your conversations. There are plenty of examples (and benefits) of this!

Although consumers have been warned to make sure they order their packages in time, there will always be those who still place their orders at the last minute and of course will be the first to contact your customer service if anything goes wrong. And, with this year as well, you’ll need to be prepared for a lot of pressure, stress and, above all, a lot of fun! Ready to provide optimum service?

Want to know more about the possibilities of online customer service?

Would you also like to be well prepared during the holidays and know more about the possibilities of online customer service for your organisation? Request a free demo or contact us via info@obi4wan.com or +31 (0)85 210 50 60.

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