The holiday shopping season is just around the corner, and do you know what that means? Someone is inevitably going to be injured right after Thanksgiving dinner fighting for a sweet deal on an Xbox One, or worse, a $10 blender. And that folks, is why more and more people are shopping online…
The latest figures from the National Retail Federation’s (NRF’s) Shop.org site project that holiday e-commerce sales in the U.S. will rise between 8 and 11% this year. For November and December 2014, U.S. retail e-commerce sales alone are expected to total as much as $105 billion of a projected $617 billion holiday haul.
The NRF projects that 44% of all holiday shopping will be done online this year, the highest percentage in the history of the NRF consumer survey. eMarketer’s Holiday Shopping 2014 Online Trends and Forecasts report attributes this record-breaking rise to consumers’ increased comfort with mobile purchasing. In 2013, Black Friday proved to be the season’s biggest mobile retails sales day, with people taking to their phones and tablets to make purchases while waiting in line at physical stores.
With Greater Online Sales, Comes Greater Responsibility
So what does this mean? More customers this year doing more shopping online, asking more questions and expecting better and faster service across more channels, including their smartphone. Feeling stressed already? Consider this. According to Stella Service’s 2014 Holiday Consumer Survey, 5% of respondents said they would shop again with a retailer that gave them bad service during the holidays. Son of a Nutcracker….
So now’s the time, retailers, to make your list and check in twice when it comes to online customer service preparedness. What do holiday customers want?
Customers’ 2014 Holiday Wish List
1. Convenience: Customers want to be able to engage with brands on the channel of their choice. If they have questions about a product or purchase, customers want real-time access to a support email, ticketing system or live chat. They may even reach out on Twitter or Facebook. Make sure your website offers a support portal with all of these available./
In addition, when customers have questions about products and services at 11 at night, they want to be able to find the answer at 11 at night. Make sure the self-service answers to FAQs are up-to-date and searchable both on your brand’s support portal and via the search engines.
2. Correct Answers: Whether a customer calls, emails or tweets, according to the American Express 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer, 86% of surveyed consumers say excellent customer service is provided when the customer service representative (CSR) provides the right answer to the customer’s question. The National Retail Federation estimates 800,000 seasonal workers will be employed this holiday season. Give them, and all employees, access to the best and most up-to-date internal knowledgebase possible.
3. Efficiency: For consumers caught up in the holiday rush, service doesn’t have to be delightful; it just needs to be satisfying. In the Global Customer Service Barometer referenced above, first contact resolution matters. Consumers say the most important attribute of a successful customer service experience is getting their question answered or transaction handled quickly, followed closely by the CSR being empowered to handle their request without transfer or escalation.
4. Little Extras: For today’s customer, proactive customer service is becoming a holiday must-have. From a live chat representative reaching out to offer assistance with a purchasing decision, to suggesting the purchase of AA batteries for toys, to email notifications about price or delivery changes, a little proactive service effort goes a long way. According to a CFI Group survey, 96% of consumers deem guaranteed delivery dates important – so much, so that according to Stella Service’s 2014 Holiday Consumer Survey, just 11% of consumers will shop with a retailer again if a holiday shipping guarantee isn’t met.
Cyber Monday Motivation
Referencing the 2014 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer above, 68% of consumers say they are willing to spend more with a company their believe provides excellent customer service, yet 60% have decided not to conduct a business transaction or make a purchase due to a poor service experience in 2014. Will your brand be on the naughty or nice list this year? It depends a lot on being good when it comes to service.
Watch Now: From Brand Promise through
Post Sales Service: Is Your Customer Experience Aligned?
In a recorded webinar analyst Michael Krigsman discusses why companies need to become customer-focused, showing the weighting of promise, product, purchase and post-sales service when it comes to customer engagement, satisfaction and long-term brand loyalty.
Senior Director Bill Patterson of Parature explores how four Ps (promise, product, purchase and post-sales experience) come together and where customer service comes in. Quark Software Vice-President of IT and Customer Support, Mark Lawler, also joins the conversation to share how Quark is building its brand around and has doubled its Net Promoter Score through a strong investment in customer service and engagement.