One of the pillars of holiday customer care in 2015 is omnichannel support. Retailers cannot have any downtime across channels, from phone support, to their website, email, live chat, or on social media. Customers want to shop early in the morning and late at night during the holiday season, and brands have it in their best interests to accommodate their shoppers by almost any means necessary.
By the same token, brands need to plan for extreme traffic and scale. Peak days, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the week before Christmas, your systems need to be able to handle huge traffic, and so does your staff.
At Vcare, we help clients get more out of their customer care channels, especially during the holidays. We plan for the peak days, we have a rigorous process for both long-form customer support calls and 30-second quick-resolution calls, and we train our staff to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities naturally during support interactions.
Let’s take a look at some of the key customer care channels and provide some tips for maximizing your customer experience during the most critical time of the year.
This is the stalwart of customer care – phone support. You’re always going to have customers queuing up for service, and you need to have a logical system for creating and managing that queue.
- All customers are equally important to the business, but in this case some customers need to be prioritized based on business goals. If a customer is looking to place a new order, they should be pushed to the front of the queue.
- Phone support naturally increases during holidays, so extend your available support hours and staff; give your customers the opportunity to shop early in the morning and late at night.
- Ensure that your agents are trained to spot upsell and cross-sell opportunities. If the customer is looking to purchase a rain jacket, your agents should mention a similar rain jacket that may be $25 more, but comes with a five-year warranty, saving money in the long term. If the customer is purchasing dress shoes, the agent should be sure to mention today’s sale on dress socks.
- First, make sure that your website has been thoroughly load tested and will have no downtime over the holidays. Next, ensure customer care information is easily accessible on your site.
- Let your customers know right on your site if you have special customer service availability for each channel, what phone numbers to dial, and which customer care email address to use. Make sure that your live chat is intuitive, only popping into view when the user needs it, and becoming unobtrusive when they don’t. Include links to all of your official brand social media accounts or dedicated customer care social media accounts for quick access on-the-go.
- Don’t forget to also bolster self-help materials prior to the holidays. Your FAQ, support blog, and customer resource center should be full of rich educational and directional information for customers searching for answers on their own.
- The name of the game with many of these customer care channels is speed, and live chat is just as critical. You should aim for live chat inquiries to be answered within 30 seconds or less.
- Use a pre-chat survey to speed process, asking customers what their inquiry is about before the live chat even initiatives. This helps you route them to the agent who can most likely solve their issue or answer their question within the 30 second window.
- You can also use canned messages to automate parts of your chat, such as the welcome message, and close out message.
- Be sure to add a live chat button to your email footers, as well. When a customer gets an automated email from customer support, or even in marketing messages, allow customers to fire up a live chat window right from their email.
- Speaking of email, customer inquiries over email should to be answered within 3 or 4 hours. Otherwise, you will have customers with open tickets calling in and creating new tickets for the same issues, which causes headaches on both the customer side and the brand side. More frustration for the customer causes more expense and lost revenue for brand.
- To start customer service emails off on the right foot, be sure to use the customer’s name for personalization, and introduce yourself, the agent, and your role in resolving their issue.
- Try to provide daily email updates to your customers who have open tickets, before the customer can email back to ask for the update. Each time the customer has to proactively follow up with you, you’re docking yourself points for customer experience.
According to recent research, customers spend 20-40% more when the firm provides customer support through social media channels. Customer support through social channels is, therefore, not only expected from your customers, but also makes good business sense.
That said, only support the channels you can staff – having the channel available to customers, but not responding is worse than not being there at all because it sets the wrong expectation, and customer happiness is all about expectation setting.
- Monitor mentions of your company and your key products or services, and be prepared to jump into conversations proactively. Keep in mind, not everyone will use your official handle or account when logging a customer service complaint or request, and a portion of those who do try might misspell the official handle or account name.
- Your response time needs to be within 30-60 minutes, the faster the better. many social platforms, like Twitter, are real-time platforms where conversation takes place instantaneously. again, manage customer expectations by being on the right channels and staffing appropriately.
- Try to take the customer support issue ‘offline’ quickly. If you can resolve the issue in a tweet or two, fantastic. If not, better to transition to a private Direct Message (DM) to get the user’s account information, and then to a more secure channel, like email.
How are you preparing your customer care team for the holiday retail rush? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, and share with us your best holiday preparation tips today.
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Nathan Hayner November 9th, 2015
Posted In: Customer Care