For brands and customers alike, the holidays bring both excitement and anxiety. Buyers delight in the opportunity to purchase gifts for their friends and family but stress over their budgets, shipping complications, and the often-dreaded experience of reaching out for help when an order has gone awry. Will they be helped on time? Can they get the answers they need?
Ecommerce retailers are in many ways like their customers. They’re excited about the big-spending season, providing shoppers with the gifts to make their holidays special. Simultaneously, they face an influx of shoppers turning to their customer support team for help.
The key to minimizing these stressors is preparation. Seasonal trends in online shopping show us exactly how to strategize so retailers can meet their customers’ needs during the holidays. With these essential insights and planning tips, any savvy business can polish up their customer experience, make shoppers feel taken care of, and drive loyalty that’s bound to carry over into the new year. In this post, Gladly explains why summer is the best time to prepare for the rush of peak season customer service and shares key strategies for teams to successfully prepare their business for the holidays.
Peak Season Customer Service: The Power of a Head Start
Every year, holiday shopping seems to start earlier and earlier. The post-Thanksgiving rush during Black Friday and Cyber Monday indicated when everything kicked off. But more and more, shoppers are getting a jumpstart even as early as the beginning of October, driven by early holiday pricing rollouts from major retailers like Target and Amazon.
This acceleration can be attributed to the sharp rise in ecommerce shopping during the pandemic. As more shoppers went online for gift-buying, retailers rushed to catch the early traffic and entice them with sales, creating a snowball effect that led to these now-common early start dates. Either way, ecommerce brands should prep customer service for the holidays at least two months or more in advance, setting up their support and customer experience to ensure any gaps in service or inability to fulfil orders have been addressed.
For an early October start, as forecasted by the current trends, this means getting ready as soon as July and August. Though summer may seem early, planning and executing these following strategies will help you ensure that you’re prepared to provide the ideal customer experience and tweak accordingly when the holiday season comes around.
Prep Your Self-Service
At the top of your ecommerce holiday to-do list should be bolstering self-service. The more brands can empower customers to solve their issues quickly and on their own, the happier they’ll be with the experience while support agents will be free to handle more pressing service requests.
Brands should evaluate their self-service and consider how it can be modified for holiday shopping. FAQ pages should be prepared to resolve common shopping issues and provide important information on popular products. Meanwhile, brands that use chatbots should enable them with quick action responses that help shoppers get to a solution as fast as possible. For holidays, inquiries will focus on sales, costs, product information, and complementary products. Similarly, the post-shopping season will come with many requests for returns and exchanges, so businesses should be ready to handle both. It takes a bit more work upfront to create holiday-specific messaging, but it will save your agents and your shoppers time, which will be key in the long run.
Leave No Cart Abandoned
Cart abandonment is too common for ecommerce brands, with rates reaching nearly 60%. To prevent this issue, retailers need to do everything they can to close the deal through an effective customer experience.
If customers linger on pages or take a while to complete purchases, a gentle, automated nudge from a chatbot can send them over the finish line. Additionally, abandon cart email drip campaigns that say something simple, like “where’d you go,” along with a reminder of their cart content, can bring shoppers back after abandonment, providing a solution for potentially lost sales. Offering holiday deals or reminding shoppers of holiday promos can also bring their attention back to those lingering items in their carts.
Get Your Routing Ready
Customer support agent involvement may be the most critical preparation for holiday shopping support. Overwhelmed agents are a strong possibility, but brands can help hold the line by using intelligent routing to make the flow of requests more manageable.
These automated flows can be built; however, they’re needed per support use case, from agent availability to channel recommendations. To go even further, a platform like Gladly gives brands access to smart People Matching that uses routing to pair shoppers with Gladly Support Heroes based on key information like shopping history and agent specialty. For example, if shoppers are reaching out about a delayed item they paid extra for so it would arrive on time, those shoppers can instantly be routed and prioritized.
Are You Ready for Peak Season Customer Service?
The holiday shopping season poses enormous challenges but also great opportunities. When ecommerce brands prepare far enough in advance and build up their service to exceed customer expectations, the success isn’t just in the immediate sales haul. This effort will drive loyalty in shoppers who appreciate how your customer experience helped make their own holidays that much better.
Prepare for the holiday rush with these best practices.
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