Happy Holidays, Happy Customers: How to Maintain CX Excellence at the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Nov 29, 2021 11:27:23 AM

It’s funny how the holidays roll around at the same time every year yet still manage to take us by surprise when it comes to our own gift and food shopping. That’s all part of the excitement though, right? And next year, you really will buy your gift wrap in the January sales...

There’s no excuse for being unprepared in business, however, and if you’re in eCommerce then this may well be your busiest time of year. And as the holiday season only gets longer and longer, from Black Friday through to the New Year sales, there are so many opportunities you cannot afford to miss out on. So, we wanted to share our top tips for providing goodwill and peace to all customers - and colleagues - during the festive season.

Know Your Numbers

Be prepared by digging into your data well ahead of time. Where do you make the most profit? Which days of the holiday cycle are most critical for you? Which lines attract the most interest? Did anything run short in fulfillment in previous years? 2021 is expected to bring unprecedented pressure on supply chains and delivery, so careful planning will be vital.

You may also see a shift in the channels through which your customers engage with you, as they follow their own patterns of holiday travels and celebrations. With an omnichannel platform like Edify, this will present no problems in your response handling, but it lends valuable insight into where your customers are and what they are prioritizing. If they’re on the move, they may value short messaging (SMS) and mobile channels, above calls and emails, for example.

Numbers will also underpin your business intelligence after the event, so make sure you’re capturing the measurements that matter. It's easy to get caught up in the festive whirl of activity, but between the offers and discounting and staffing up to meet demand, ROI can easily suffer if you take your eye off the vital metrics.

Market Smartly for Success

Identify revenue opportunities from each of your marketing channels, and make sure your marketing strategy is geared effectively around your customer segmentation model.

Smart marketers will combine signals to craft the perfect offer, and capture the extended buying which this time of year is famous for while offering their customers exactly what they need and solving their problems for them in one swoop. And you can also plan promotions to take the pressure off different teams in your organization too - for example, creating a sense of urgency with a deadlined offer to encourage early ordering.

Remember, this is a great time of year for automating upsells. We all tend to need to buy a LOT of stuff! So if product A frequently goes well with product B, or they just need to spend a few dollars more to qualify for free shipping or other benefits, ensure that your triggers are in place to mention this at the critical moment. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your sales grow. 

Know Your Customers

It is likely that most of your campaigns will be oriented around promotions and discounts, so think about the best way to engage customers old and new. What does their previous seasonal buying behavior suggest about their upcoming needs? What does their journey to your storefront indicate about their likely interests?

Use your insights to trigger automated engagement based on the source of the lead and whatever proprietary customer data you have, to enable personalization at scale - and always remember the importance of lifetime customer value, however exciting and immediate seasonal promotions seem to be.

Incidentally, ‘holidays’ is a grand generic term but in a global eCommerce world, we should not assume universal experience and understanding. We all celebrate differently and at different times, so your international customers may have no expectation of closure/unavailability over Thanksgiving, for example. Respectful, inclusive language will ensure that whatever and wherever your customers are celebrating, they feel embraced by your marketing message.

Manage Expectations

Use your CX tools to communicate clearly and honestly with customers, so everyone knows what to expect. If your live chat will be unavailable for a set period of time, then let people know that. Remember, it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver; if you can get back to them sooner, that’s great, but prepare people for the minimum service they’ll receive. Don’t risk your brand being damaged by factors that are outside your control, like third-party drop shipping delays or local import taxes. Communicate clearly so that everyone knows the real deal.

Perhaps you’re using temporary staff to support you during the busiest days - so while intuitive and easy CX software like Edify is a huge asset, they’ll inevitably be less familiar with your products, your practices, and your brand values. Don’t forget to make allowances, and plan your shift allocations to balance experienced team members with fresh input, to ensure that everyone will have a better experience.

In particular, make sure that all colleagues are clear about return periods, exchange policies, and other seasonal information, which even the most experienced agents may not have referred to in the last 12 months.

Automate Intelligently

Everyone loves the human touch and we’re not suggesting you go off partying and leave the bots in charge of running the shop, but they sure can help! By offering your customers flexibility and choice to self-serve on their own schedule where appropriate, you can deflect a lot of volume from your queue and remove pressure on your agents at busy times.

Automation need not require the latest machine learning and artificial intelligence (although we recommend having it). Sometimes a bit of human forethought about changes in the customer journey can suggest tweaks in everyday communications which work wonders, such as including information about availability changes in an email autoresponder or IVR message.

Automation triggers in conversational CX are extra valuable in crunch periods, for example, you may be receiving large numbers of queries about shipping and lead times. If you can provide customers with direct links to order status updates when they want them, they won’t be bugging your agents to look things up for them. And keeping agents up to date with any issues or emerging challenges will empower them to relay the right information in a timely way, with minimal stress.

Care For Your People

Remember to give thanks to your customer service team, and acknowledge their efforts - at this busy time, but also for the efforts they make all year round. If they’re pulling extra shifts, be considerate of their needs - offering flexibility, compensation enhancements, remote working, and extra support in dealing with stressed-out customers.

You’re already giving them the best customer service tools to work flexibly and intuitively - but maybe they deserve a personal gift and message too, to thank them for their loyalty and hard work, through a challenging year.

Above all, remember: great customer experience is for life, not just for the holidays.

The recommendations above can make your customer support unit run smoothly through the festive season but are equally valid all year round. Being thankful for your customers, serving their needs, exceeding their expectations, through the work of teams of engaged and happy agents - this is the real message of the holidays, and always.


Written by Edify

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