Christmas is your golden opportunity to draw a fleet of new customers to your online store. It’s also your chance to gain their loyalty and have them return long after the candy canes are eaten – and it all comes down to the full customer experience.
eCommerce is a super-competitive landscape at the best of times, but especially over the festive season. Remember that your product offering or pricing doesn’t paint the whole picture. The real battleground is in customer service. After a poor shopper experience, 91% of customers will not willingly do business with you again, and on that note, a 5% increase in customer retention can improve your business’ profitability by 25%. That ain’t small change.
Online shoppers are savvy and know that if they can’t get their desired shipping time, price or provider with you, they will surely find another retailer that meets their needs. So be smarter. Look to streamline and sweeten your customer’s delivery experience this year, rather than just bulking out their shopping cart. Make it effortless and watch them flock.
We’ve compiled five tips to ensure you deliver the goods this festive season.
Create a “low-effort” experience for shoppers
Most people have plenty of relatives and friends to buy for in the lead up to Christmas, so take the grunt work out of the equation. Offer suggested product categories based on things like age, gender, interests and price, making it easier for them to choose something suitable and swiftly conclude their search. The CEB completed a study of more than 75,000 consumers and found that the number one driver of customer loyalty was a low-effort experience. Meaning good service is fast service, so if shoppers are able to finalise their transaction with you (from browsing, through to check out, and timely delivery) hastily and without a hitch, you’ve done your job.
Scale your team for the silly season
Let’s not sugarcoat here: you’re going to need all hands on deck. But for any customer interaction, assign only experienced staff who know the ins and outs of your business. Have these team members available to answer live chat queries, respond to emails, and be poised by the phones. One of the big drawcards of a VoIP service is the ability to reroute calls to mobile so that you’re more reliably reachable. Customers want to know they can always contact you, regardless of how. This is why 24/7 live chat during sale periods is a boon. One company found that when they had someone dedicated to live-chat, it reduced call volume by as much as 30%, and emails by almost 35%.
On the technical side, bring staff onboard (or on call) in the event your website crashes, or if inventory runs low, or if shipping delays result from a greater volume of orders. Prepare for any outcome and deploy or reassign the necessary staff to keep things rolling smoothly along. Industry giants offer round-the-clock customer service for a reason.
Be proactive about increased order volume due to special offers
Social media over the Christmas period is going to be crucial. If you’re running any limited-time deals, discounts or campaigns, make a big deal about them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for greater exposure. Also, before things start getting crazy busy, begin writing and scheduling your social media posts for the coming weeks. Because promotions will likely lead to an influx of orders, roster adequate staff on to pack purchases and avoid delays. Slower dispatch times result in slower perceived shipping times, and customers will announce their gripes. So be vigilant and keep staff on hand to provide timely customer support for any associated queries coming your way. During promotions especially, ensure someone is able to respond 24/7 via live chat at the very least.
Offer same-day delivery (if possible) and update your FAQs with changes to holiday delivery times
UPS discovered that 46% of customers would abandon carts if the shipping time was too long, or not provided. So keeping in mind shoppers might leave things to the eleventh hour, you’d do best to enable same-day delivery. Though not all customers will opt for it, Amazon stats relay that its mere existence makes them 20-30% more likely to proceed with their purchase at checkout. Offering same-day delivery also means you can continue shipping product up until December 23 (keep in mind, standard carriers have earlier cut-off dates).
Heed your analytics and study patterns for next year
If your online store was operating this time last year, what did you learn? What was the percentage influx of new customers? What was the peak call volume time? What did your customers teach you about what they want from their online shopping experience? If you didn’t ask their feedback, don’t make the same mistake this year. At the end of their interaction, kindly ask for insights. Listen to what they enjoyed shopping with you, no less than what could be improved. Seeking their feedback illustrates you want to better meet their needs and leave them with positive feelings about your brand. Were your customers mobile, tablet or desktop shoppers? Could you better optimise download speed, product image quality, shoddy navigation? Is a responsive design cutting it, or are you better off creating a dedicated mobile version? Knowing these factors intimately will set you up for any peak-sale periods to come.