Brace your elves… the customers are coming. Shoppers are busy scouring the internet for perfect Christmas gifts, making it a prime time for e-retailers to win new customers.
But although websites are at their busiest, service often nose-dives over the holiday season. Christmas customer service is notoriously bad, and many ecommerce businesses struggle to get their reindeer in a row when it comes to help over the holidays. In fact, almost 50% of shoppers say that customer service is at its worst during the festive season.
So, how can you help give your customers a Santa-stic online experience over the Christmas break?
The nightmare before Christmas customer service
Customers themselves aren’t the cause of your service meltdown, but rather the influx of them as you’re winding down for December. As customers are pouring in, your employees are breaking up. The volume of web shoppers makes helping each and every one who needs support a near-impossible feat.
Due to this increased customer traffic, some customers may feel ignored when they don’t get a reply, and others may avoid reaching out over phone or email at all, for fear of long wait times.
The issue is that just as customers reward good service with positive reviews and increased custom, they are also likely to punish a bad experience. Along with adding you to their naughty list, disgruntled shoppers will likely tell their friends and family about their woes, and post on social media too.
Add to this the fact that agent numbers will be reduced as many will be on break over the holidays, and you have an inverted triangle of service, with vast numbers on top, and a narrow point of contact through which you can help them. Your small service team simply can’t support the large demand from customers, making a Christ-mess.
Don’t be a Grinch
It’s fine to be out of office over the holiday season. Customers understand that it’s Christmas, and they’re generally in a more tolerant mood over the festive season.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll tolerate non-existent Christmas customer service efforts. Customers want to know where they stand, and that means transparency. You need to let shoppers know when you’re available, how they can contact you, and when they’re likely to hear back. What they don’t want is to be ignored or forced to spend their well-earned holidays waiting in a phone queue.
So how do you convey information to customers with your reduced capacity? One word: chatbots.
Shoppers are already accustomed to using live chat software to get Christmas customer service online. But the odds are, your live chat channel won’t be manned late at night, early in the morning, or over key dates like Christmas day.
By incorporating a chatbot addition to your live software, you give customers a 24/7 resource in a familiar, friendly format. Shoppers can turn to a chatbot and have their quick, simple queries answered immediately.
For example, a chatbot can instantly inform customers of your returns policy, your delivery options, your holiday availability, and your times of service. You can even have your chatbot send customers a custom Christmas message, for an added festive touch.
It’s a cracker
With a chatbot onsite, you’re heading towards cracking Christmas customer service. Here’s why:
- • Chatbots can gather information from a customer while they’re waiting for a human representative to be available
- • Chatbots can handle low-level questions, complaints and requests entirely on their own
- • Chatbots can improve website engagement by helping customers navigate the site and find what they are looking for
- • Chatbots give an extra level of customer support that will help your customers feel looked after during the stresses of creating the perfect Christmas
A chatbot isn’t a replacement for human support, but it certainly helps fill the service gap over Christmas. Just as shoppers know that Santa can’t be at every town centre grotto around the world throughout December, they also know that you can’t be there for every hour of every day that they might need you. A passable representative, though, is more than welcome.
Eat, drink and be merry
The emphasis here is on the ‘be merry’. When dealing with stressed customers over the festive period, tensions can run high. It’s important that you retain a jolly tone and remain courteous even if a customer has a particularly difficult problem.
Chatbots facilitate this. They don’t get angry or suffer from stress, and can provide a happy, helpful tone from dusk until dawn. Plus, they don’t sleep, enabling round the clock Christmas customer service that ensures shoppers aren’t left Home Alone.
If you integrate your CRM with your chatbot, they can also stop or seriously decrease the need for customers to repeat themselves – a particular (wish)bone of contention for shoppers in need of support.
We wish you merry customers (and a happy new year)
Deploying a chatbot is a sure-fire way to improve your Christmas customer service, but there are other things you should consider.
Firstly, make sure that you have multiple channels for customers to contact you – and be clear on when you’ll be reachable. Your chatbot can inform customers of these options, but you should also post your availability on your website and social media channels.
Secondly, make sure that your website is up to scratch in your absence. That means up-to-date FAQ, an easy to use self-help area and up-front information. Some personalised offers wouldn’t go amiss, either.
The point is this: you might not be able to be there for your online shoppers throughout the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave them with a lump of coal in place of Christmas customer service. To add a warm touch to a wintry unmanned website, a chatbot is your answer.