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Holiday Customer Service Tips

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By Susan - September 9, 2023- in Go-Getter Blog

The holiday season is here — customers are ready to find the best deals, products, & services to delight everyone on their lists. You may have your inventory locked down & product descriptions ready to go, but customer service can make or break your next sale. 
Research shows that more than half of Americans have skipped a planned transaction or purchase because of bad service. Get your customer service right from the first click with these holiday tips.

Refine Your Systems & Processes

The holiday season is the most important time to make sure your customer service shines. If you haven’t already, create a customer service guide that outlines how your store handles different types of issues — from lost inventory to shipping delays. The launch of the holiday season is also the time to walk through all of your systems & processes. Scrutinize your FAQs, chat features, & email nurturing to look for any issues. 
Of course, it can be challenging to see the issues & holes in your business for yourself. It’s wise to recruit a friend or loyal customer to pick out a free item & give you honest feedback on your service from start to finish. 

Use Chatbots

Chatbots are the cornerstone of holiday customer service. Research also shows that 69% of consumers prefer to use chatbots because they deliver quick answers to simple questions. Instead of manually handling all of your chats, Shopify offers a wide range of live chat apps, including Tidio LiveChat & HelpCenter to answer questions, make suggestions, or respond to service issues.
Streamline your chatbot process by keeping a document with commonly asked questions nearby to answer questions readily. Be careful to customize the responses & avoid anything too canned to make sure your customers know they matter to your business. 

Launch Gift Guides

Chatbots are helpful but can’t always answer questions like, “What should I get my husband for the holidays?” Turn those wandering customers into decisive shoppers with the help of gift guides. Organize each guide into helpful categories, including:

  • Spouses
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings
  • BFFs
  • Colleagues
  • Significant Others
  • Babysitters, cleaning crews, or home chefs

Each gift guide can also cross-sell & include items from other guides. The more you show your customers what’s possible for everyone on their gift list, the more they’ll want to buy. And perhaps just as important, your customers will love the ease of shopping at your store & spread the word.

Act on Feedback

There’s no point in soliciting feedback or reading through customer emails if you don’t plan to implement the feedback. If there are issues with sizing, shipping, or a product description, rectify the problem immediately. Whenever necessary, reach out to past customers who bought the same product who may have experienced a similar issue. 
Customers also enjoy feeling appreciated & heard. Let your customers know you appreciate their honest feedback & the chance to resolve the issue by sending a free gift or coupon code for a future purchase.

Get a Handle on Your Inventory

The holiday season can create unpredictable spikes in your ecommerce business that don’t always follow previous years’ trends. Stay on top of your inventory to ensure customers don’t mistakenly buy items out of stock that you can’t deliver on.
Dropshipping can also alleviate the stress of stocking inventory yourself. Choose your products & sell directly on your ecommerce site while a third party supplier fulfills the order. Or use CustomCat’s seller friendly print-on-demand service for over 300 uniquely customizable products. We add your design or branding to our products, ship the item for you, & send your customers tracking information. You’re empowered to provide a smooth & reliable customer service experience without the hassle or stress.

Bolster Your FAQs

Customers increasingly want self-serve options like FAQs to find quick solutions. According to a survey by inContact, 67% of respondents prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative. Give them what they want with comprehensive, clear, & detailed FAQs that answers all of their questions. Here are a few examples of what to include:

  • Shipping
  • Returns
  • Issues with an order
  • Contact information

In addition to laying out clear, concise FAQ pages, add a search bar to enhance your customer service experience. Now shoppers can look for their own answers or choose to get in touch if they can’t find what they’re looking for.

Set Expectations

A smooth customer service experience is rooted in clear expectations & communication. If you need additional time to ship items depending on the item, make sure to outline it clearly before the purchase. You should also set expectations for what customers should expect once they purchase your products. For example: 

  • A confirmation email with a reminder of what they ordered & approximately when it should arrive
  • An email with tracking information
  • A follow-up asking if they received & are enjoying their item
  • An email requesting an honest review or feedback about their experience

Setting expectations should also extend to your team members. Let them know in advance if you expect them to work overtime & how you would like them to handle their customer service duties. It’s also helpful to offer a bonus or financial incentive for their extra work & care during the holiday season.

Leverage Social Media

Customers often turn to social media to work out their issues with a product or service. All eyes are on your ecommerce brand & how you respond, so outline how you will handle problems in advance. 
Improve your social media presence by being as transparent as possible & quickly responding to issues & comments. The faster you react & empathize with your customers & their holiday shopping stress, the more likely the public will see you as a brand that cares.

Experiment with Video

Videos are a dynamic way to engage your customers & answer their questions while giving your online presence a boost. Research also found that 85% of respondents in customer service studies found live chat helpful. Beyond live video chat, you can pre-record videos to answer questions about a product or showcase your item in action. Video ultimately enables customers to make the best shopping choices possible & minimize frustrations or returns.
Video is also a creative way to announce your holiday sale promotions & give customers a sneak peek of your headquarters. Post your videos on social media & build up the like, know, & trust factor that entices your customers to buy.

Hire a Seasonal Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants (VAs) are trained in various tasks, including customer service, copywriting, trouble-shooting, & ecommerce marketing. You can hire a virtual assistant just for the holiday season, on an hourly basis, or on a monthly retainer. Find the best fit by asking around for recommendations in ecommerce forums on Facebook for reputable VAs, or browse Upwork for talent that matches your specifications.
Remember, your VAs need thorough training to help your business succeed. Minimize the need for training by looking for virtual assistants with several years of experience helping ecommerce store owners. Or shoot quick training videos on Loom for your VA to work through the training at their own pace. The investment will pay off & free up more time to work on your business while your VA keeps your customers happy.

Empower Your Team to Delight Customers 

The holidays are an ideal opportunity for goodwill & bending the rules once in a while. Customers make mistakes & may want to cancel an order or take advantage of a promotion that already expired. Empower your team to make situations right & delight your customers, within reason. Outline what’s acceptable & what’s not, including refunding an order in full or sending out a free item. 
Try gathering inspiration from ecommerce giants who are already celebrated for their customer service. For example, Zappos built a reputation notorious for bending over backward for customers, engaging with them over phone & chat, tossing the phone scripts, & building an empowered team with authority to act in their customers’ best interest.

Ready to build your business and focus on providing amazing customer service? Join 50,000 stores worldwide & sign-up for free with CustomCat to start selling today.
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