Get the top 5 tips for providing exceptional customer service during the holiday season. Boost sales and customer loyalty with these strategies.
The holiday season is here, and it’s the most important time of the year for the majority of retailers. In fact, it’s expected to generate as much as $766bn in sales for U.S. retailers in 2020, following an average annual holiday sales increase of 3.5% across the past five years.
But the spike in shopping brings increased stress for companies and customers.
- Businesses want to generate as much revenue as possible, perform at their best, smash sales targets, and satisfy shoppers
- Customers are more demanding, in a rush to get exactly what they’re after as soon as possible, and expect businesses to cope with increased demand
This applies to both online and brick-and-mortar retailers. Buyers purchasing via websites and apps still want fast, professional service. They want prompt responses to queries or complaints. Your business may face much more customer communication during the holiday season, but you have to maintain the same high standard no matter how hectic things get.
The last thing you want is to subject your customers to a negative experience when more than 30% of U.S. shoppers will consider switching brands after just one instance of bad service.
But don’t panic: here are five tips to help you deliver exceptional holiday customer service this season.
1. Focus on a customer-centric service
One of the most important elements of good service is empathizing with your customers. If a buyer appears rude during a customer service call, it doesn’t mean they’re always a nightmare to deal with. It could just mean they’ve had a hell of a morning and finding out that your website won’t accept any of their payment methods is the final straw.
Even the most cheerful among us can become frustrated with waiting in line or clunky checkout processes. That’s why it’s crucial to treat customers with compassion and understanding.
Ensure your employees have the time and tools to provide each customer with the same level of attention. They should be able to resolve issues quickly and leave shoppers satisfied at any stage of their customer journey. This may mean hiring more staff to cover the holiday season, but it’ll be worth it. Extra customer service agents will relieve strain on your current team and minimize waiting times.
2. Motivate your staff to achieve their best
- more engaged
- more capable of solving problems effectively
- likely to believe in more customer-centric work
- able to handle uncertainty better
- more likely to achieve higher customer satisfaction
Each of these benefits can make a big difference to teams of any size when working during the holiday season.
Particularly when high customer demand increases, so do stress levels in the office. But there are things you can do to boost employee motivation and satisfaction.
- Manage breaks efficiently: allocate employees fair, equal rest periods to ensure everyone has enough time to destress and relax
- Be generous: buy snacks and/or drinks to show employees how valued they are; cookies, cakes, fruit, coffee, hot chocolate — keep their morale and energy levels high!
- Offer bonuses: if your budget allows, offer employees working the holiday season an incentivizing bonus
3. Offer omnichannel support to maximize convenience
Omnichannel support is crucial for today’s customers:
- More than 65% of consumers utilize three or more communication channels when making inquiries with businesses
- 98% use different devices during a given day
- 80% use smartphones when shopping in a brick-and-mortar store
Omnichannel customer support means your business is always available when prospective and existing shoppers need help. Across smartphones, tablets, desktop computers,telephone, social media, email, and live chat.
This offers customers maximum convenience: they can use their preferred communication channel instead of being forced to use one they dislike. But transitioning over to omnichannel places extra demand on even the best customer support teams.
They need to be available through all channels when required: it’s no good offering live chat or video calls if customers never receive a response. Again, this might mean you need to hire extra staff to cope with rising demand.
4. Ensure your team is trained to cope with demand
A little extra training can be helpful for coping with holiday demand. This may involve role-play, presentations, quizzes, or any other practical training methods.
One of the most important requirements for any retailer during the holiday season is knowing how to cope with disgruntled customers. They might be more demanding and expect VIP treatment from managers. They might even become abusive. Rude or threatening customers can make holiday customer service teams’ jobs much harder.
But agents should be trained to handle all interactions professionally and follow clear guidelines. Agents may exacerbate situations and cause reputational damage if they lose their temper. Focus on cultivating a professional, level-headed team that goes by the book. Ensure they realize the customer is angry at the company, not them as individuals.
5. Keep the customer experience simple
Most customers will go online to solve a problem first, even with brick-and-mortar stores. This could apply to anything from late deliveries and using gift cards to gift wrapping.
Your online service has to be efficient, user-friendly, and responsive. Especially in 2020, when more than 60% of U.S. shoppers will do most of their holiday buying online.
Develop a clear strategy for your business’s holiday customer service to increase efficiency:
- Understand which channels are most popular with your audience
- Plan employee tasks, breaks, and goals
- Try to plan for all possible customer service-related situations
Another key part of simplifying your holiday customer service is leveraging IT tools. Take advantage of the latest customer service software to automate minor tasks, empower your employees with vital data to understand customers better, and enable them to focus on core duties.
If you’re looking for a fast, simple way to improve the quality of your customer experience, Bradza is the ultimate solution.
Our on-demand, multi-channel customer service reduces first-response times, boosts resolution times, and takes customer satisfaction to another level.
Bradza utilizes automation, cutting-edge AI, and comprehensive expertise in customer service to achieve real results for businesses of all sizes. We’ll help you cope with increased demand during the holiday period and leave customers more satisfied than ever.