The holiday season is a time for joy and celebration. It also means that customers are now more likely to be actively spending time buying new things and engaging in frenzied shopping. It is also a time when companies announce deals, launches and such events that will have customers lining up. They are also searching for deals that are light on their pockets, competitive, exciting and with, don’t forget, the highest level of customer service. All this frenetic activity can be stressful and unless your customer service is holiday season ready, it could spell trouble with customers leaving you for competition. Ensure that not just your customer service but also internal strategies and marketing plans are in conjunction with each other to provide the customers with satisfying and stress free shopping. So what can your company do to ramp up customer service to ensure that you are holiday season ready?
– You would need to put together a strategy that works to be holiday season ready but at the same time the plans need to be flexible and agile. Customers interests and demands change and they can be erratic and indecisive. Ensure that your offerings and customer service is quick and lithe will allow you to modify and change even at the last minute to match the customer’s mind-set at the time. Check back on the data of past holiday seasons to anticipate the kind of volumes in calls and queries you would receive. Put together a robust task-force to manage the tide and ensure that all communication channels are properly managed. Remember to offer discounts and gifts to the highest shopper and also offer rewards to customers who bring and or refer other customers.
– ‘Decorate’ and do up your website and online sites with the holiday theme. Everything must highlight the targeted season to show that you have thought of and are holiday season ready. Customers will pick up on the enthusiasm and are more likely to visit a site that is in tune with the season rather than one that bears the same drab look as the rest of the year. Get your customers excited well before the holiday season approaches ensuring that they would most surely visit and make purchases. Your customer service teams – whether online or in contact centres or in the actual store premises – must be ready, enthusiastic and have all the information required readily available.
– ‘Energize’ your customers by using the social media sites by creating a flurry over your offerings. Not just your regular customers but also a large audience will have access to this and you would most certainly gain more customers. Ensure a robust and thrilling digital marketing strategy is in place to reach maximum audience and gain the most leverage possible. Customers are ready – is your company holiday season ready?
– All the communication channels must be linked. Every social media site has a large number of users and properly distributing your effort would ensure that all age-groups of people would have access to the holiday cheer.
– Remember that your employees have families too and if they are working with you to serve customers, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are also well taken care of. Create an environment of excitement, holiday spirit by having team competitions, prizes, distribution of goodies to all staff members. The fact is that this is a time of high intensity activity and there would be a possibility of tension and friction. In order for them to ease the anxiety of customers, make sure that your staff is well-equipped through training and technology to manage the holiday frenzy.
– The staff looking after the online queries and live chats too must be adequately trained to handle the high traffic and pressure of the holiday season. Add extra phone lines and press additional staff in to servicing the social media and live chat sites. The aim is to let customers have pleasant experiences amidst all this anxiety and also to ensure that your staff remains motivated to handle the pressure. A fine balance needs to be maintained and only companies that are holiday season ready would be able to tide over this effectively.
– For customers who prefer ordering online, the number of options must not be limited. They should have access to all products that would be present at the real store. Busy parents and working people tend to prefer shopping this way and would please them to be able to choose from a wide range of offerings.
– Special attention must be given to ensuring that there are no stock-outs especially of the popular items. Check the data of trends and anticipate the kind of sales and ensure that you have adequate stock. There is nothing more frustrating and depressing than when a harried parent is looking for ‘that toy’ for their young ones only to find that it has run out. Being holiday season ready means supporting the customers in spreading joy and cheer and as always reducing their effort and stress.
– Drop frequent yet well-timed messages to existing and loyal customers regarding the holiday items, themes, special offers and such. Customers love to feel special and know that their business is being appreciated. Send them personalized cards wishing them for the holiday season along with the offers and you can be sure to have them queuing up for your special treatment.
– Avoid sending e-cards. Use actual cards and mail them to customers with discount coupons. This makes them feel remembered and special and would surely remember to make their big holiday purchases from you.
– Don’t just focus on current customers. Reach out to a large audience and gain new customers through advertisements, ‘announcements’ via social media. Partner with other small businesses and organizations to collaboratively attract more customers. Make the best effort to reach out to the younger audience – they would help with spreading the word around and are great at the art of persuasion.
– Make sure that the content you place on various online sites has pertinent holiday season words such that when customers put in a key word your company’s products pop up instantly. Use SEO to ramp up your sales and to be holiday season ready. Great content is of prime importance but your SEO must be at par to ensure that this content gets noticed and picked out.
– Everyone is doing relatively the same promotions. Don’t get stuck in just doing the normal. Relentlessly drive innovation and creativity. Come up with products and offerings that the customers won’t find anywhere else. Use enticing techniques and steer clear of old staid ones. Customers are always on the look-out for new and value-added products. What better time than the holiday season to give them those? They will love you for adding an extra punch to their celebrations and remember you even when things are back to normal. If you are holiday season ready, you will find yourself being connected with your customers and they will be more than satisfied.
Planning and forecasting well ahead will make you holiday season ready and also contribute to fatten your bottom line! This is the time for which people normally save up and then splurge in an attempt to spread happiness to those dear to them. Help them do it smoothly and with the least amount of stress, and you will have some long term and happy customers ready to vouch for you.
It’s easy and tempting to just let go once the flurry of activity settles. However, for companies to remain on top of their game, they must definitely monitor how they fared and what the outcomes of their efforts were during the current holiday season. The fact is that the results now will help you be even better equipped to handle the next holiday season. You may put together some thoughts for the future without setting them in stone. Compare how you fared in comparison to the last holiday season. Post the holiday season announce a sale of products that may be leftover, as cheap but great value products are always welcome. This not only makes room for new products in your stores but also pleases bargain seekers. Potential customers too can be made aware of your products through the announcement of post-holiday sales via social media.
A little extra effort to be holiday season ready will ensure that not just your customers but you and your employees too will be less stressed and the holidays will prove to be fun and profitable for all involved. Make a plan, start early, be flexible, have great products and enough of them and review the holiday season once it is over. Happy Holiday Season to you!