Making a lasting (positive) impression is very key in every business. Providing excellent customer service in an online store where traditional face-to-face contact may not apply becomes extremely important…especially during the holidays.
In its most basic sense, customer service is “The provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase” (Wikipedia).
The holiday season has been cited by some customers as a period where they had poor customer experiences. This was largely due to shipping delays, long queues, errors in orders delivered etc.However, the holidays provide an avenue for retailers to improve customers’ perception about their brand.
Here are some tips on providing great online customer service during the holidays:
- Be prepared and have the right tools: Having a set plan long before the holidays is one sure way of not feeling overwhelmed with orders during the holiday rush.
- Go beyond customer expectations.
- Provide and improve self-service support: This would allow customers to locate information independent of the involvement of a direct service employee. Self-service could be existing information or information provided by fellow customers. Some of the most common types of self-service support are FAQs, How-to Articles, Q&A. From office/store hours to shipping information, sharing relevant self-service content through an online support center is a huge asset during the holidays. Not to mention it is also the most cost-effective customer contact channel.
- Have a process for your support team (even if its just you) to efficiently and effectively handle all customer interactions. Prioritizing these interactions with customers, assigning them appropriately and resolving them in a timely manner ensures that things will move smoothly.
- Improve your online search optimization so that customers can find answers with ease. Ensure that you focus on what customers will be looking for during the holidays – most notably, shipping or exchange policies.
- Don’t take it personal: You will encounter customers that are displeased for whatever reason(s) and probably lash out at you. Always remember that they are not mad at you, but mad at the situation. Ensure that you remain pleasant, polite and as helpful as possible.
- Be conversant with your products and policies: Customer service representatives that haven’t been thoroughly trained run the risk of delivering the kind of poor service that will drive holiday customers away and into another store. Training and re-training hence becomes very important.
Do remember that although emotions may run high during the holidays, people usually shop this period to put a smile on someone’s face…so, be nice to your customers and put a smile on theirs.