The biggest shopping season of the year is upon us. Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be done and dusted but before businesses can heave a sigh of relief, the next wave – Christmas and Boxing Day – is about to come crashing ashore.
With an estimated $53 billion in spending still to come from shoppers during the Christmas period, now is the time for businesses to take stock of what went well and what could have gone better .
The countdown to Christmas on, and businesses may be asking themselves what they can do with so little time to get ready for yet another influx of customer enquiries, returns, and the odd complaint or two. To help ensure the rest of peak shopping season is seamless and positive for businesses and consumers alike, here are three essential takeaways that businesses can learn from:
One: It’s never too late to prepare
It’s no surprise that Zendesk users see significant surges in customer ticket volume over peak periods such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. Ensuring that you have the right channels set up to receive customer queries, along with the right mix of customer service, sales and IT staff to handle the volume, is a key step in your preparation.
To figure out what your needs are, take a look at the treasure trove of data available from the Black Friday weekend. Doing so helps you identify the most used channels, the most asked queries and common points of friction. By analysing your customers’ behaviour, as well as their shopping and service history, you can better understand their preferences.
Armed with these insights, you can then consider optimising your systems and teams to handle those frequently asked questions with the help of automation and artificial intelligence. This in turn frees up your customer service agents to tackle more complex queries.
With an informed perspective, your responses, processes and protocols will be all set for the next few weeks to reduce the stress on your teams and system when requests pour through.
Two: Understand your customers
Customer expectations today are evolving, and more than ever customers are placing greater emphasis on authenticity from brands – a whopping 86% to be exact, based on research done by Reputation.com . So what this means for businesses is that they need to ensure every interaction with a customer adds value.
In order to provide sustainable customer experience (CX), businesses need to balance the needs of their customers with business reality. Building brand loyalty is not always about exceeding expectations – a sure fire way to get on your customer’s naughty list is to over promise and under-deliver. So how do we stay on their nice list? Well, our research shows there is no material increase in brand loyalty when you exceed customer expectations versus simply meeting them. You do not need to wow your customers every time, you just need to meet their expectations.
While they also know the peak period is challenging, good CX is now considered table stakes. Expectations are rising, but authenticity never fails when it comes to building brand loyalty and trust. After all, they are on your site because they want to be, so give them a reason to stay by delivering consistently on your promise.
Three: Be where your customers want you to be
Today’s customers want to connect with businesses in the same way they do with friends and family – be it through social messaging, live chat, phone calls, or email. They want experiences that are interactive, responsive, and immediate so they can get things done in a simple and seamless manner. These expectations rise during the holidays, making it crucial to have an omnichannel solution tailored to your organisation.
Taking an omnichannel approach means identifying how you can leverage social media, messaging and new technologies in a way that fits your audience and business. This involves planning your staffing needs ahead of time, engaging customers on their preferred channel, and understanding the nuances of each of those channels. Doing so creates a more positive experience for your customers, especially during the busy and stressful holiday season.
While it can seem overwhelming, it can help increase operational efficiencies, provide quicker and better responses, and ultimately meet your customers’ expectations during this important time.
So, before things start picking up again, take a moment to look back at your Black Friday and Cyber Monday operations and identify the gaps in your CX. No matter if and how you celebrate this Christmas, yulebe sure to spread the cheer with your customers by taking a leaf from these key lessons.
Malcolm Koh is the Customer Experience Strategist at Zendesk.