The holiday season is overwhelming for customers. Having worked with many giant corporations and small businesses for over two decades, we’ve seen how crazy the holiday season can be. It’s not only the busiest time for every retailer—both small business and giant corporations—but also the most critical time of the year. Sales made during the season usually make up a huge chunk of annual sales. In fact, the last two months of the year usually represent 20-40% of annual sales for small business owners.
It is expected that as people celebrate the season of giving and merrymaking, sales go up and businesses get a lot of traffic, whether virtually or physically in their stores. And if there is one thing that you should be on top of and be conscious about, it would be delivering exemplary customer service especially during the holiday season. We made a list of ten customer service no-no’s you wouldn’t want to make during this time of the year.
1. Not creating gift guides.
Most consumers are overwhelmed on what to buy during the holidays. A majority of them don’t even know where to start and even what to buy as gifts. They need all the help they can get! By creating a holiday gift guide, you are not only good providing customer service; you are also creating an opportunity for your business.
Place your holiday gift guide prominently on your website, blog and share them on social media. A good holiday gift list can easily go viral driving floods of new traffic to your store.
2. Not optimizing your online store for the busy season.
A majority of shoppers now prefer to do their shopping online. Do not only make your store searchable, make the shopping experience memorable. You might want to reduce the number of steps needed to check out online and reprioritize the ads and banners to display holiday-related stuff – a link to a blog post for your gift guide, a code, a reminder for free shipping on a specific amount of order, etc.
Make sure to set a delivery cutoff date for the holidays, and reinforce it on your site and through marketing emails.
3. Making it hard for the customer to do a return.
Customer returns occur more frequently during the holidays (especially after Christmas). It may be easier to turn down a customer return request and cite a no-return policy but remember that this can be an opportunity to establish a relationship with a customer. Give people more time than the usual to make returns or exchanges during the holidays. Do not treat it as a one-transaction deal. Make the return easy and use it as an opportunity to stay connected to the customer in the future.
4. Not investing on customer service.
The holiday season is the perfect opportunity for a business to shine. Do not skimp on customer service! Make sure that customer service delivery stays on top of things and is on its best form by hiring additional experienced staff to handle the increase traffic. Remember, there’s no faster way to lose a holiday sale than not responding quickly to a customer inquiry.
5. Working employees to the ground.
Happy employees will make happier customers. Ensure your employees get their deserved time-off this season by scheduling their rotation ahead of time.
6. Letting Conversations Slide during Customer Interactions.
It’s easier to automate things when it gets busy during this time of the year. But don’t sacrifice conversations over meeting metrics. Use conversational language when speaking with customers. This will avoid you sounding rehearsed and apathetic. It will also make the interaction have greater meaning for the customer, giving you the opportunity to make a connection.
7. Unclear Expectations about Shipping, Delivery and Escalations.
Most customers delay their shopping up until the last minute. Make sure you set very clear expectations on shipping and delivery on your web site. Escalations need to be monitored closely and resolved more quickly than the normal. You wouldn’t want a disgruntled customer airing his frustration in social media at the most important time of the year.
8. Not Admitting You Were Wrong.
Seth Godin wrote “You were right, we were wrong” is perhaps the hardest thing to say for companies. And yet it’s a very effective customer service tool. Customers will often focus more on how their complaint was resolved than on the original issue. Mistakes happen. And you will be surprised to learn how customers can be very forgiving if you admit you were wrong.
9. Closing up shop too early.
In 2013, 13% of holiday shoppers start their holiday shopping the week of Christmas and only 12.4% of shoppers had completely finished their holiday shopping ten days before Christmas. You might want to extend the shopping hours or offer priority shipping on your store. Don’t worry – customers are willing to pay more in order for their gifts to arrive on time.
10. Forgetting about after Christmas.
Once Christmas is over, don’t rest on your laurels. January is perfect time of year to follow up with all the new customers and build a relationship with them for the future. Don’t wait until the next holiday season to contact them!
Don’t be too busy making sales that you forget about taking care of your customers! Good customer service is remembered long after the holidays are gone. Make it merry and memorable for them to come back!