Holiday Customer Service Mistakes — and How to Avoid Them
The holidays are a critical time for your business. So it’s important that your customer service is on point.
Unfortunately, when you’re crazed, it can be easy to let things fall through the cracks. That could translate to a negative online review, which can really affect your reputation.
To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, we’ve highlighted some common holiday customer service mistakes and how to avoid them.
You don’t have a strong online presence.
Often, customers search online before hitting the streets, or they follow up and purchase from your site after they’ve visited your brick-and-mortar shop in person. A recent study by Visa found that 52 percent of consumers surveyed often search online and/or check a new business’s website before visiting in person. And 80 percent say they are motivated to consider or shop with a business if they have an easy to use website.
That’s why it’s really important to make sure your website features your products in a navigable, shoppable way. Also, put store hours and the address front and center and include information about applicable sales and discounts. This applies to social platforms as well. But don’t stop there. Every day, have someone on staff answers questions that customers or potential customers may have posted to Facebook or Twitter, or sent to the company email address.
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You have an old POS — and long lines.
By now, larger retailers are on board with chip card and mobile payment point-of-sale (POS) systems. Small businesses should follow suit — especially when it comes to adopting a POS that makes chip card payments quick (we’re down to two seconds) and allows for mobile payments like Apple Pay. Mobile payments are an incredibly fast way to pay, not to mention they are very secure.
Having a POS that takes all forms of payments means you’ll never miss a sale. And because customers say slow checkout lines are their top shopping pain point, having a speedy POS makes for a much better experience at your store (which increases the likelihood that they will come back).
You’re not timing your marketing campaigns right.
Since it’s such a busy time of year, the key is to use a email marketing service to send messages that anticipate customers’ questions and helps them solve common problems with holiday gift giving. The same goes for your social channels.
Be smart about the timing of these messages — you want to catch customers who get a head start on the holidays as well as those who wait until the last minute.
You’re running out of inventory.
We’ve all been that frustrated customer frantically searching store after store for that one hot gift that’s on everyone’s list. No one likes coming up empty handed, so do your homework before the holiday season begins to make sure you’re adequately stocked across both your brick-and-mortar and online sales channels.
To do this, look to your historical sales data to make inventory projections. It’s also a good idea to onboard software that syncs your brick-and-mortar and online store inventory in real time after each sale. Read more about how to manage holiday inventory.
The holidays are the time of year to ramp up staff and make sure that everyone on the floor is well versed in your product. Because everyone is short on time (and patience), you don’t want to put customers in the position of waiting around for a staffer to get their size from the back or not being available to answer questions.
A lack of staff often translates to a loss of business, so build the cost of staffing up for the holidays into your annual budget. Learn more about hiring for the holidays.
You have pushy salespeople.
Just as important as having enough employees on the floor is having the right kind of customer-facing employees. Sure, you want employees to close the deal, but customers are often turned off by pushiness. Employees should be helpful, educating customers about your products, but not pushy.
Superb customer service is paramount when running a business — especially during the holiday season. So make sure everything’s running smoothly.
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