The holiday shopping season is almost here, and if your small business hopes to come out on top in the furious competition for holiday sales, you’d best take notice of these holiday shopping trends for 2014 and what they mean to your customer service.
Online shopping takes center stage.
Customers are using the Internet not only to shop for gifts, but also to research holiday purchases even when the final purchase is made in a brick-and-mortar store.
What you can do: Whether you sell products online, in a physical store or both, your digital presence is crucial. Use customer service tools such as live chat to engage with prospects browsing on your website. Prominently put contact information such as your toll-free customer service number/s on every page of your website. Post your store’s address, phone number and hours of operation clearly so your website drives customers to your store.
Time is of the essence.
Consumers are busier than ever; a recent holiday shopping survey found that’s one reason they’re going online to “pre-plan” their spending. Waste their time and you risk turning them off your business permanently.
What you can do: Make sure your customer service staff, from order takers or call center employees to front-line retail clerks, is adequate to handle peak demand. Also ensure your network is working properly so customers shopping or researching online don’t experience delays. If you have an ecommerce site, offer multiple options for getting help fast—from call-in numbers to FAQs and popup live chat windows.
Money is tight.
More than 80 percent of consumers plan to spend the same as or less than they did last year. Consumers say price is their top consideration when deciding where to shop.
What you can do: Help customers make smart choices focused on value. As a small business, you may not be able to offer rock-bottom prices. Here’s where your customer service team comes in, by offering expertise and guidance to explain why your products are worth their cost and helping customers decide between various options.
Shoppers have lots of alternatives.
The average consumer will visit two to three stores and/or websites before making a holiday purchase. Online, the competition is just a click away.
What you can do: Providing stellar customer service is essential. Make sure your customer service team is trained, empowered and energized to provide the best possible shopping experience. If you don’t already have a loyalty program, implement one now to reward loyal customers.