Holiday season support: optimising for speed and surge in demand

By Anush Clive Fernandes / In Support / December 16, 2020 / 7 minutes read

As the pandemic continues to rage on well into the end of the year, businesses and retailers are increasingly moving an online system of commerce. But with the increased sales comes the need for better support. Is your business ready to manage the influx of holiday season support?

Preparing for this is a combination of a solid infrastructure, industry-leading uptime, and updated third-party integrations. So let’s get into it, starting with what you need to know before the season begins.

What to keep in mind

E-commerce will soar

As the COVID-19 pandemic grew, more people started shopping using e-commerce than ever before. In India, by August 2020, e-commerce had already grown to heights larger than pre-pandemic times.

That trend has not since stopped.

Per Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast, e-commerce sales are predicted to grow by 25% to 35% YoY this holiday season, compared to last year’s 14.7% increase.

Contributing to this uptick is not just convenience, but safety. According to a report from SYKES, nearly 44% of consumers won’t feel comfortable shopping in person until they feel the pandemic is under control in the country or their area. Furthermore, another 25% say they won’t be shopping in person until a vaccine is available.

Mobile and social commerce will gain popularity

As more consumers spend more time indoors, they’ve begun to spend more time online. This increased time on mobiles and in conversational apps means that social commerce will play a large role in converting holiday shoppers across every stage in the funnel.

Per a recent Salesforce study, 37% of U.S. adults are more interested in mobile app shopping than last year, and 22% feel the same about social commerce.

In India, social commerce companies like Meesho are reporting record-sales and valuations.

Support is key to customers

Holiday shopping means more sales. But it also means an increase in call volume, more and more requests from customers inquiring about product details, shipping and return policies, payments and complaints.

Faltering on this holiday season support not only reduces short term sales but can also impact long term trust in your company.

At 74.5% — customer service is the second most-pressing holiday e-commerce concern among large online businesses.

What to do for great support

Make sure your ecommerce platform provides 24*7 support.

You’re getting traffic around the clock in the lead up to the holiday season. But are you supporting them with the same consistency?

During the holidays, customers are being bombarded by deals while having a higher than normal purchase intent. Traditional channels with traditional man-hours such as email and phone support are just not fast enough.

Empowering your support team with the best in-class tools is important since your support team plays a crucial part in your holiday sales strategy.

If 10% of your customers contact support and have a positive experience, you can increase your repeat purchase rate by 30%.

You can even promote your marketing efforts in each support message during the holiday season. Support emails have a nearly 100% open rate.

Develop a robust customer service plan

You’ve got a dedicated support team and state-of-the-art software behind your businesses support.

Now, you must take care of your customers.

The holidays are undoubtedly a busy and sometimes stressful time. Customers will enter with a range of queries and complaints that you may not have seen before.

Be prepared to handle any questions and concerns, and make information readily available.

As mentioned earlier, even when something goes wrong, a positive holiday season support experience can lead to a loyal customer. You should have dedicated support for phone, email, chat and social media — and be sure to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours.

Make information prominent and easy to find

Adding updated contact information to your website and all order confirmations can enhance a customer’s trust with your store.

The easier is it for a customer to reach out to you, the less likely it is that they’ll fall through the sales process.

Other information, like an FAQ page that offers quick and easy answers, can also build trust with new customers. Giving customers a self-help service that doesn’t require them to go through 8 pages of Q&As is even better.

Combining self-service with artificial intelligence (AI) is a good way to surface relevant information to consumers at scale and give them 24*7 assistance even when agents aren’t available.

This is particularly important since 53% of online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

Ask for feedback from customers

Feedback is the most important touchpoint that you have with your customers. Well collected feedback can help you understand what new offerings are working or what incumbent processes are not.

“How was your experience today?” is a simple question that brings a lot of value to your business. Not only are you obtaining customer testimonials, but you will also learn a lot about how you can improve any gaps in your holiday season support.

Consider adding CSAT questionnaires at the end of all support channels and communication.

Further incentivize customers to leave a review with a special one-time discount or free shipping.

Evaluate data and make adjustments

You’ve collected important feedback and now you have support data. Collect the same from other verticals and start to prepare a holistic picture by which you can adjust your efforts accordingly.

If you notice that customers are engaging more with certain advertisements, increase them.

Say a majority of your site traffic is coming from a single source, continue your efforts and make a plan for increasing traffic from other channels.

If one support tool is delivering faster results with higher satisfaction, move customers to it and scale down poor-performing systems.

Take a look at the articles that got the most views during the past festive seasons. Are they around pricing, shipping, inventory, returns? Put the most frequently asked queries at the forefront of your offerings to further build confidence.

Moving quickly is important, but be careful about moving too often. Last-minute changes and fixes could risk significant downtime, so consider a code freeze in the build-up to the holiday season.

How to do

To sum the blog up, in a year filled with incredible downturn, retailers need to be able to excel this holiday season more than ever. Setting up a customer support system that helps you maximize customer loyalty, speed and satisfaction is imperative.

Provide your customers with the best holiday season support possible. 

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Anush Clive Fernandes

Content and Marketing, Verloop.io

Love Canines, Conversational Automation and Curry - Steph and otherwise.