Keep online shoppers happy during the Black Friday rush - our seasonal eCommerce guide
Online shops, time to brace yourselves - it’s that time of the year again.
Ahead of Christmas, seasonal high demand is being kicked off with massive sales and special offers around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Shoppers are delighted and brands are reaping the rewards of increased sales and higher revenue. The customer service teams, however, take most of the heat during the seasonal rush. They have to deal with a drastic increase in demand - often without the additional workforce to keep up with the increase in ticket volumes.
It is important not to underestimate the impact of customer service on your ROI. As per a Harvard Business Review report, investing in new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. Keeping shoppers happy and having them come back for more is your key to increased ROI. To stand out in a crowded market, it is crucial to not let seasonality rock the boat (too much) and to continue providing a stellar service experience for your customers. We’ve compiled a quick cheat-sheet to give you a competitive advantage through service excellence, even when seasonal madness takes over.
Keep your database up-to-date
Update your database with the answers to any important queries and make sure information on new products and sales offers are up-to-date in the system. This will make sure the service teams have an easier job aggregating the right answers and avoiding customer frustration. You can, for instance, set up a page in your intraweb with a dedicated FAQ for seasonal offers, or distribute copies of the most important information around the office.
Make long-term, not seasonal, investments
During peak times, your staff will be stretched to the limit and the phone won’t stop ringing. Hiring additional manpower can help in the moment and is definitely recommended if your budget has any leeway, especially if you haven’t got automation in place yet. However, it is best to think long term and make investments that will also benefit you in the future. Automation can help you through peak seasonality without the overhead of hiring short-term staff.
Offer 24/7 support and self-service options
HubSpot research shows that 90% of customers rate an "immediate" response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define "immediate" as 10 minutes or less. Your customers don’t want to wait, and self-service can save the day by giving them immediate answers around-the-clock. Service automation via chatbots is particularly effective in delivering speedy resolutions for your customers. Superior to other self-service options such as static FAQs, they can offer answers without requiring the customers to dig through multiple tabs of FAQs. On top of that, they can go beyond mere FAQ-listing and provide personalised service by identifying customers and giving them detailed information on their order, delivery status, and more. And if a question is too tricky for a bot, it can hand over to a human agent at any point.
Use analytics to gather learnings
See if you can set up some seasonal contact tracking metrics that can be used the following year when preparing for peak season with your team. It’s important to analyse your customers’ questions and behaviours from previous years. Your team will be the first one to hear if shipping costs were not clearly communicated or if there was a problem with a particular promotional item. CRM and other kinds of software can help aggregate such learnings at a glance to manage expectations and provide an even smoother experience going forward.
Keep your team motivated!
Last but not least, perhaps the most important aspect of running a successful customer service team lies in keeping your staff happy and motivated while making sure they have all the prerequisites they need to excel at their jobs. Buying them time through automation can help them focus on the aspects of their job they enjoy the most. It can also mean small mood-boosters like bringing holiday snacks to the office or organising social activities. Make your employees feel appreciated and they will extend that same appreciation towards your customers.
Bearing in mind these tips, you should be well-prepared for seasonality during Black Friday and beyond - keeping your staff and customers happy and coming back for more.
Anna is marketing director at Solvemate and workout enthusiast in her free time. When she isn’t busy attending fitness bootcamps, she's probably cooking Indian food or discovering new restaurants in her hometown Berlin. Being a true geek, she favours reading over dancing at Berghain. A Londoner at heart, she still embodies British chic and enjoys a good cuppa (caffeine-free) tea.