Service Is Essential for Online Merchants
In our most recent blog posts, we’ve been spotlighting various ways that eCommerce merchants can ensure that they maximize their positive effect on customers who may be visiting for the first time around the holidays. Holiday customer service is absolutely essential for established companies and rising brands alike, as holiday shoppers are incredibly likely to return. While our previous articles focused on the post-holiday rush and the impact of holiday gift cards, we want to devote a piece to giving eCommerce companies a refresher on the time-tested techniques that can ensure you get the most you can out of the holiday season.
Customer service is essential to any business, but it is especially important to eCommerce stores, who rarely get opportunities to truly connect with the customer on the other side of the screen. With the holidays being an emotionally rich time in which customers are looking not only for prompt delivery times and quality products but also genuine care, the value of successfully acing your holiday customer service opportunities can’t be overstated.
Proven Techniques for Success
One of the most important skills of all in building a business is learning to identify the pitfalls that affected companies that came before you. In the same way, it’s vital to know how to learn from other companies’ successes as well. There are tactics and strategies for improving your holiday customer service that have been used and refined by successful brands worldwide, and those techniques should be adopted into your own comprehensive holiday strategy. Here are a few we would like to highlight:
1. Building a Strategy Is Half the Battle
“Planning is everything. The plan is nothing.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower
When it comes to the holidays, chaos is typical to encounter. Between extended hours, last-minute purchases, employees being out on vacation, and family commitments nearly every single aspect of commerce, both brick-and-mortar and online, is multiplied ten-fold. More people will be visiting your store, more people will be ordering, and more people will have questions for you and your staff. With that in mind, building an effective strategy is crucial to success.
The quote above from 34th United States President Dwight Eisenhower is oft-applied to chaotic situations. Nothing ever goes exactly according to plan; in fact, sometimes the final outcome looks nothing like what you predicted, for better or for worse. However, having your team on the same page, with designated solutions in place and tools functional will make the inevitable deviations from plan more likely to tip into the “better” category.
Strategies you build for your store should include scenarios like product shortages, increased returns, and customers requesting expedited shipping. Your team needs to know how to handle each one of these roadblocks in advance, or you’ll find yourself struggling sooner rather than later.
In addition, it’s valuable to spend time refreshing your team on how to best portray your brand’s values during holiday customer interactions. When tensions are high, it can help your team to remember that they’re representing the brand and not to take customer frustrations personally.
2. Communication Paves the Way to Success
Things change around the holidays; there’s no doubt about that. Because of this fact, communication with your customers should be paramount. Are you expecting limited supplies of a popular product? Let customers know so they can accurately decide whether a gift order on that particular item is what they want. Will you have special shipping offerings (or limited shipping options) around Christmas or New Years? Put up a unique banner that informs your customers of what options are available to them.
Communicating clearly with your customers before there is an issue is likely to prevent a large number of potential problems. As the adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Making sure that a customer knows to order earlier, for example, prevents that customer from becoming disappointed because their last-minute order didn’t arrive in time to put under the tree. A negative holiday experience can stick with a customer for a very long time; it’s better to avoid it outright.
3. Invest in Structure
You cannot possibly hope to implement a strategy without having the actual tools necessary to take action on it. Holidays often prove to be incredibly influential to the financial success of eCommerce stores, and that means that good tools are likely to have a high return-on-investment.
Imagine trying to implement a major holiday emailing campaign requiring multiple phases of sales and accompanying waves of emails without a proper scheduling tool. Imagine trying to undertake that same campaign without a professional designer to build your emails. The results of a campaign built without the right structures are not likely to be satisfactory; if you need premium tools or more talent, reach for them. You don’t need to break the bank in order to strengthen the structures that back your strategies, but you might need to put a little bit of cash down in the name of long-term growth.
The three core techniques explored in this article make for an excellent foundation for your company’s holiday customer service policy as a whole. However, real success during the holidays means taking these techniques and molding them to your unique brand. Integration of tested business techniques allows for those techniques to evolve with you. With continued skill and drive, your brand may end up being the one that future businesses look to learn from.
With the magnified business impact the holidays have in eCommerce, getting customer service right the first time is vital. First-time customers can easily become lifelong customers if you manage to forge a bond that goes beyond just a click and an order. Customers who feel taken care of are going to remember you, especially if you manage to help make this special time of year better in a visible way.
1Digital Agency is devoted to helping your business be the best it can be. If you want help with any step of the holiday planning process, we can help you. Contact us today with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Dan Kogan
- December 20, 2017