4 Retail Customer Service Trends for the Holiday Shopping Season

providing retail store with latest customer service trends during Christmas seasonIt’s difficult to follow strong gains with even stronger ones, but that appears to be the case for the 2018 holiday shopping season.

Retail holiday sales totaled $691.9 billion last year, representing a 5.5 percent gain over 2016 and marking the best holiday shopping season since 2011. Despite the market uncertainty due, in part, to tariffs potentially driving up consumer goods prices, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has upped its previous holiday-season sales forecast. It’s now calling for gains of at least 4.5 percent.

With the potential for busy times looming, it’s important to prepare your business for the sudden influx of customers that the holiday season brings with a customized customer care solution tailored to the needs of your business.

4 Customer Service Trends to Keep an Eye On

Often overlooked is the need for exceptional customer service. Unless you’re selling a product that no one can compete with, a retail call center solution may be the deciding factor that determines whether a customer sticks with your business or spends their money elsewhere.

1. The Dreaded Wait Time

This Consumer Reports survey shows that two-thirds of consumers rate themselves as being highly annoyed by long wait times when trying to reach a business’s customer service department. A highly annoyed customer is highly unlikely to return.

Be ready to increase your inbound customer service staffing to reduce wait times and avoid lost revenue and, more importantly, lost customers.

2. Focus on the Experience

Just because customers contact your customer service department doesn’t mean they’re having negative experiences with your product. All too often, the negative experience begins with the poor customer service they receive.

According to the Harvard Business Review, past customers who report positive experiences spend 140 percent more than those reporting negative experiences. Clearly, there’s a monetary value to investing in a better interaction between customers and service representatives.

Training staff to be experts not only in your product or service but also in communication skills that focus on empathy and a desire to solve problems directly impacts your bottom line.

3. Account for Online Behaviors

Online consumers spent over $108 billion during the 2017 holiday shopping season, up nearly 15 percent over the prior year.

It’s easy to think “call center” when preparing to provide customer service for those who prefer online shopping. Live phone support is great but in today’s mobile world, sometimes the ability to chat or email with support is more convenient in certain settings. Consider implementing chat and email service options (multi-channel) to complement the live voice and help these customers when their issues arise.

4. Be Available

Business hours is an antiquated term. Your customers are busy with work, family and many other life issues just like you. Sometimes, dealing with customer service calls on holiday purchases isn’t possible until the evening or weekend. A lack of availability is as frustrating as long wait times.

Offer 24-hour support — if not for the entire year, then at least for the holiday season and throughout January.

Building a robust customer support team can be costly, especially if you only need it for the peak season.

Drive Business Success with Telemarketing Services

Often, it’s better to contract with a third-party service provider that can handle the fluctuating demands and ongoing training required to satisfy customer demands. Contact Ameridial to discuss your call center needs today.