Five Ways Customer Service Organizations Can Prepare For Holiday Shopping Now
Although it’s still summer, retailers are already turning their attention to the holiday shopping season. With Amazon announcing new inventory restrictions and a delayed Prime Day start, and Walmart closing stores on Thanksgiving to thank hard-working associates, it’s clear that the retail industry is preparing for a surge in holiday e-commerce. In light of this new retail climate, merchants must do everything possible to replicate the physical store experience virtually, including providing stellar and personalized customer service.
While the expected increase in consumer holiday spending is positive news, it also comes with more customers expecting exceptional customer service. According to a recent study we conducted looking at retail and customer service preparation for the holidays, we found that more than 70% of customers will abandon their purchase if they have a bad customer service experience, but 74% are willing to spend more money for good customer service. Last year, $284 billion dollars were spent between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday alone, so the stakes are particularly high to keep customers happy and loyal.
But creating an easy and effortless customer experience is easier said than done. Many businesses struggle to maintain a high level of support during peak shopping periods. They may need to hire a flurry of seasonal employees who have a short training period. They may need to extend the hours of some agents, or give them a heftier workload. Agents may need to be manning more channels than usual, or learn new seasonal policies.
Preparing Your Customer Service Today to Handle the Holiday Rush
With smart strategies and smarter technology, merchants can better handle the seasonal rush without breaking the bank or disappointing customers. To stay ahead of the game, retailers should consider these five tips:
1. Start preparations now.
Research shows that 56% of customers chose where to shop during last year’s holiday season based on past experiences. More and more, customer experience is becoming more important than price and product when it comes to loyalty. During busy seasons, when your inquiries and orders quadruple, keep in mind that you should make customers feel just as valued as they do on the slowest day of the year. By preparing early, you can put the right tools, staff and strategies in place to not only deliver the perfect holiday gift, but also the perfect holiday customer experience.
2. Harness the power of AI.
When resources are thin, technology can make a huge impact on your team’s efficiency. Oftentimes the most tedious tasks on an agent’s plate are manual and repetitive, and may not require human intervention. Luckily AI can handle simple tasks like tagging and routing conversations to the most appropriate agent. And consider the power of chatbots during peak shopping periods, which are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers. In fact, 67% of consumers prefer self-service over talking to a company representative.
3. Get ahead of any issues.
According to Kustomer research, 82% of customers expect retailers to proactively reach out to them if there is a problem with their order. Not only does proactive outreach put customers at ease, it can also prevent an influx of customer service requests. Making sure that your customer service technology is able to efficiently segment your customer base and power proactive communication is an important step.
4. Be available where your customers are.
Omnichannel support is critical as nearly 90% of customers are frustrated when they can’t contact a company on the channel they prefer. Omnichannel support can provide a consistent experience for customers at every touchpoint after acquisition. It’s a good idea to consider adopting technology that can integrate your combination of communication channels and display the data in a single screen.
5. Create a personalized experience that customers will remember.
Our research shows that 67% of customers expect retailers to know them and personalize how they interact. To create these meaningful relationships, companies should consider technology that allows them to see the customer journey in context, no matter the platform. By leveraging automation for tedious and analytical tasks, customer service agents can provide customers with prompt and personal customer service, including individualized and proactive outreach.
For better or worse, solving a customer’s problem is no longer the only job of a customer service organization. During the holiday season and beyond, customer service is increasingly being thought of as a revenue driver, and customer service insights are being leveraged throughout the organization to inform larger business decisions. Keeping a consistently high level of support, and implementing smart technology and tools to create a seamless and personalized customer experience, could be the difference between retail growth and stagnancy.