casengo.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/retailmas.png You know it’s less than seven weeks to Christmas, right? Leaving the religious celebration aside (it’s sacrilege, I know, but this is a business blog after all) that’s bad news because there's not much time at all left to get up to speed in preparation for what is also known as ‘retailmas’, an insanely busy time for retailers. The good news, though, is that there are some fast, easy and effective ways to prepare your online business for the upcoming holiday season. So face facts, take a deep breath, and let’s look at how you can get your customer service team into gear, ready for the coming onslaught. Happy customers are repeat customers, and the holiday season is a great opportunity to spread a little love, just for the sake of it.
Customer service tip #1 - Make gift shopping easy.
If you have a webshop, it’s time to come up with some gift ideas. But make sure they’re a bit more inspired than Amazon's sad attempt. Diamond jewellery and chick flicks for your girlfriend, or perhaps your father might like a flashlight or some power tools? Come on Amazon, at least make an effort! Use Amazon’s idea as a starting point, but go the extra mile: this is a perfect opportunity to showcase not only your bestsellers but some of your personal favourites. You’re helping your customer out of a tight spot, helping them to select inspired (not tired) gifts from your website with a minimum of hassle. Everybody’s happy – you, the customer, and the person receiving the present. Win-win-win!
Customer service tip #2 - Be prepared for stressed-out customers!
Despite the best-laid plans, it happens every year: days or even hours before close of trade on 24 December, desperate customers are still searching for suitable gifts. With a bit of forward planning, you’ll be ready even though they’re not. Put the time in now to research and update the shipping options for your business. In particular, check for the exact last minute that your customers will be able to order a gift and still be 100% sure that they will receive it in time for Christmas. Be prepared for the inevitable stressed-out phone calls by customers wanting to know whether you can still deliver in time for Christmas. Take this opportunity to take a look at things that might go wrong. Prepare a clear policy, and make sure that everyone on your customer care team knows what to do if an item is lost in the post or turns out to be faulty. This will allow you to help your customers as quickly as possible. It might also be worth considering offering gift certificates for your webshop. A hard-copy card or certificate which can be posted to the customer is more appealing, but as a truly last-minute gift, an attractively presented PDF that can be printed out or even emailed is an excellent option. When setting up a gift certificate option, don’t forget a little ‘thank you’ for the person purchasing the gift certificate. They are essentially introducing a new customer to your business, so why not reward them with a surprise like a small gift or discount off their next purchase?
Customer service tip #3 - Do not lose your cool...
When things are especially busy, they can get very stressful. As a previous employer of mine used to joke: “The business would run really well without the customers.” Sadly, some customer service reps seem to truly believe this, and when under stress they act as if every customer contact was an imposition. While it can feel that way at times, it’s not – it’s the reason you’re there in the first place. Be nice to customers– and, as we suggested last week, to your team. Treat yourself and your team to some small rewards, which might be anything from some mince pies during the tea break to a night out, depending on your team and your budget. And in the middle of that difficult call or tiresome email exchange, remember to look beyond the immediate problem you’re dealing with – be it a quick question about delivery times, an issue with the website, a complaint or a return – and try to focus on what this is all about. You’re not just trying to get through the day. You’re working to make each individual customer happy.