Prepare Your Customer Service for Online Holiday Shopping Rush
The thing to remember about shopping and the online holiday shopping rush is – It only comes once a year. There is no point in planning a comprehensive organizational change that takes months to implement – good online shopping customer service has to be maintained all year round, and no last minute reform is going to change that.
So what you really need is a set of tools and hacks to deal specifically with this rush with a well-defined time frame. This is of course much easier than implementing a full-scale reform oriented to improve customer service for your eCommerce business.
Improve Self-Service Channels
For most customers, this won’t be the first holiday online shopping experience and they, too, will be terrified of the notion of being stuck in customer service purgatory. Do your utmost to provide them with alternatives:
This doesn’t necessarily mean uploading every possible piece of information you can think of – the Book Depository created a designated Christmas shopping FAQ, accessible from any landing page on the website. It is clear that they did their homework – the first and most visible question addressed on the FAQ is obviously the one asked the most. Bam! Several thousand incoming support calls are bypassed and everyone is spared the headache.
Tutorials and Site Tours
Try using onboarding guides to help your customer get where they are going more quickly. You can do this by offering a map of the available site tours at a visible, accessible spot so that at any given point customers can look up and find it. If you can isolate the most popular clicking routes your customers take, you can easily design tailored guides for each path flow.
Pre-handle per potential, not EVERYTHING
You may be tempted to pre-pack anything that doesn’t run away fast enough, but instead, think efficiently: pre-pack only what you are promoting. Those products are more likely to be ordered. Don’t waste your time on what has less potential to be ordered.
Integrate customer service into the discount
Online holiday shopping is all about the discounts, and so most customers are willing to put up with bad customer service (and in fact may expect it) in return for paying considerably less for what they want. Service providers often apologize the lacking customer service due to holiday rush but very rarely offer any compensation. Take it one step further – apologize for shortcomings in customer service and add a small, additional discount to make it up to your customers for their discomfort. So, holiday discount AND customer service compensation.
Surprise your customers – greet them with a smile
The situation is a stressful one for everyone involved. In addition to triaging customer support tickets and calls, get your support staff to be exceptionally cheerful. This is the holiday season, and both service requester and provider tend to forget that when neck deep in the shopping rush. An authentically kind word or smile, even if in the form of an emoticon, can go a long way in neutralizing tenseness and making the exchange a more relaxed one – which may result in higher conversion rates and the engagement of a long term customer.