/ eCommerce

A Nightmare before Christmas- How To Optimise Your eCommerce Website For The Holiday Season

With less than a week to Christmas, the shopping frenzy is well underway, as people are making their last-minute purchases and chase down the perfect gift. For the past few years, the trend for online holiday shopping has become more prominent, as consumers prefer to save time by avoiding the crowds and the queues. A survey amongst U.S. shoppers has revealed that 24% of them plan on spending up to 60% of their holiday budget online. That’s good news for your e-commerce business, provided that you have optimised your website accordingly and are prepared to meet the demands of the clients. However, there are many things that can go wrong during those busy times- we’re here to give you tips on how to provide high-quality, interactive customer service , making sure that your customers’ shopping experience doesn’t ruin their Christmas spirit.

Task management is crucial- with the influx of messages which range from product enquiries, to complaints and returns, you need to make sure that each one is addressed in a competent and timely manner. The best way to do so is to assign cases to specific agent teams, based on their skillsets and knowledge. That’s how the customer interactions will provide efficient support and make for a personalised interaction.

Ensure smooth communication- an order return, a parcel’s been lost in the mail, a refund is needed- whatever the issue is, customers want it resolved before it has even been raised, especially in this time of year. A reliable support channel is a necessity, making it easier for your agents to handle the influx of enquiries and more straightforward for your customers to get in touch. Integrating solutions such as real-time web chat and co-browsing to your website is key for providing high-quality customer service- this way an agent can quickly get an idea of what the issue is and work towards resolving it. According to a Forrester research, 53% of customers are likely to abandon a purchase if they can’t find a quick solution to their problem. Through real-time communication, this won’t be a problem for your customer service agent and will definitely make for a seamless user experience;

Train your staff accordingly- this is even more relevant if you are planning on hiring extra help around the holidays. It might be tempting to pick someone with less experience in customer service to cut costs, however, this might have serious implications on your brand’s image and the quality of the service. Make sure your new employees are aware of the brand’s practices and know how to get its voice and message across but, more importantly, ensure they’ve got a way of treating the customer, to avoid any complaints and negative experiences.

Create an FAQ page- Despite your best efforts to give every single customer a personalised shopping experience, during busy times it is useful to have a well-optimised page of Frequently Asked Questions. This way you can relieve the burden from your customer support agents, letting them focus on more complex queries which require bigger attention. An FAQ page also helps optimize your website’s navigation, and resolves many of the customers’ anxieties, which can eventually result in bigger and more frequent purchases, not only around the holidays but all year round.

Make your Shipping and Returns policy clear- as most people are buying gifts for their family and friends, what’s most important is that the item arrives on time. Having an order delayed or not being able to exchange an item will severely impact your customers’ satisfaction levels and can lead to negative reviews- the last thing your business needs. To prevent that, make sure that, once they enter the website, clients are aware of the shipping times, the return policy, the possibility of their parcel being delayed. Emphasise on the fact that, while you are going to do everything in your power to make sure the product arrives on time, some things are just not in your power. This way customers will avoid being disappointed and will be able to plan their purchase accordingly and avoid any disappointments.

Take care of your agents- dealing with nervous, irritable clients is very difficult and time-consuming, which can have its toll on your customer service agents. Yes, ‘tis may be the season for big sales, but your agents’ sanity and well-being is more important. That’s why you need to make sure that the workload is spread evenly across the different teams, and that agents are provided with the necessary information to do their job efficiently. To make sure that during those it is up to your customer service agents to represent your brand and communicate its message. However, it is your responsibility to make sure that they are not only skilled and competent enough to communicate your brand’s message, but also that they stay motivated to perform well. Therefore, getting your agents excited to represent your product and providing them with the information required to do their job effectively is crucial. To keep your customers happy, your agents need to be content to

Trust the numbers- According to a Dimension Data report, 57.8% of online businesses agree that analytics will help improve the customer journey. Data analytics will allow you to have a better understanding of the customers’ browsing habits and know which parts of your website are not user-friendly. If you have monitored your customers’ activity on the website over a couple of years, than you can estimate the number of customers expected and ensure you’re not short-staffed. This extra piece of information will make all the difference, especially during a period as busy as Christmas.

Optimise your website for a variety of devices- long gone are the days when people would only go online on their desktop computers. Today, you need to be prepared for your website to be accessed through a variety of devices- smartphones, tablets, laptops. With the growing popularity of cross-device shopping, a well-developed strategy for catering to all types of shoppers is much necessary. Maintaining simple but functional website, mobile site and app will help you cover all the bases and increase your conversion rates.

If you, like most e-commerce businesses, recognise the holiday season as a time to realise bigger sales, than it is important to utilise the resources and people available at hand. This time of year does not have to be a reason to panic and stress though- with the proper optimisation, and the seamless integration of communication solutions within your website, your customers will be able to enjoy a shopping experience tailored to their taste and will be sure to returnn to your business at any time of the year.