As shoppers visit your site in record numbers during the holiday season, they expect prompt and efficient service at every step of the way.
So whether you usually run your e-commerce with a staff of two, 10 or 50 people, you will require additional help at this time of year to make sure you meet their expectations.
What is at stake goes far beyond answering the requests of people in a hurry. In fact, your reputation hangs in the balance: Shoppers may never return to an e-commerce that failed to assist them, to process their transaction efficiently or to deliver their purchases on time. It’s definitely not the time to be pound foolish…
ROUND-THE-CLOCK SERVICE: CHATBOT/LIVE CHAT
As e-commerce analysts point out, today’s shoppers expect that, since they can access e-commerce sites round-the clock, they should get service 24 hours a day.
Or at least get a response with the promise of a follow-up by a customer-service person during working hours.
What they look for may be as simple as a little guidance to make their selection, which is where a chatbot can help, said Alex Debecker, chief growth officer at Ubisend specializing in artificial intelligence.
“Instead of having to trawl through a clunky website, guess which product would fit your requirement, painfully read through descriptions to find the key information you are looking for — instead of all this, you get to ask questions,” he said. “Plain and simple. And, you get an answer 24/7 because chatbots don’t sleep.” (1)
If one’s chatbot is programmed to answer shoppers’ basic queries —such as colors or sizes for clothes, compatibility for electronics, warranty or return policy—these quick and specific responses may suffice for shoppers to purchase.
Especially at this time of year when they are eager to get gifts on time, people will appreciate immediate assistance. And if they need additional help, this is an opportunity to ask shoppers for their phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses, expanding one’s mailing list in the process.
This may take the form of a live chat at your site or customer-service people whom shoppers are invited to contact by calling toll-free phone numbers.
In either case, courteous and efficient customer-service people must be on hand to respond. If they know all about your products—or can get the information fast—they will make everyone they deal with feel good about buying at your e-commerce.
The busier you get during the holiday season, the more crucial it is to have sufficient staff to handle shoppers’ inquiries and purchases.
MONITORING SOCIAL MEDIA
If you have set up a presence on social media, this must be carefully handled. “If someone is contacting you on social media with a question, they want it answered sooner rather than later,” said Marcus Andrews, product marketing leader at HubSpot, which develops inbound sales and marketing software. “Most Twitter users expect a response to a query within an hour, and Facebook Pages get a snazzy badge at the top of profiles indicating if
they respond promptly to direct messages.
“Set up a stream for messages containing your brand name, a question mark, and excluding your website URL (in some cases, question marks can appear in URLs shared on social media). This will help you get to customer questions faster,” he said. (2)
SHIPPING AND INVENTORY CONTROL
Once a shopper has decided to purchase, the last thing he/she wants to hear is that the item is out of stock: Disappointing a would-be customer is bad policy, especially when time is short to find gifts. So one’s e-commerce site must be constantly updated and out-of-stock products no longer offered.
Additional staff may be needed to handle this, process orders, pack and expedite products as soon as orders are in. Because there is no room for delay during the holiday season.
And if one wishes to use festive wrapping, and/or include a “Happy Holidays” card or gift samples, this may require even more people to make this happen on time.
More than ever, an e-commerce owner will want the shopper’s whole buying experience to reflect the quality of the products offered. So get the help you need and HAVE A SUPER HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON!