Gift anxiety during the holidays is both a risk and opportunity for ecommerce businesses. Make sure you use the every customer contact during the holidays as a means of building long term customer loyalty.
Like many retail businesses, you likely invested in marketing to enjoy the benefits of peak shopping season. It’s a fantastic opportunity to introduce your business to new customers & re-engage existing ones. The holidays are the great for retail businesses.
Holidays are great for consumers too – most of us enjoy receiving gifts. Yes, even the iridescent planter and the somewhat insulting boyfriend pillow (that’s a real thing).
Perils of Gifting
But for many customers, buying gifts is mentally difficult. Experts describe this as “gift anxiety”.
We feel that gifts are a reflection of ourselves and our relationship with the recipient, with all the emotional baggage that carries. We assign the gift symbolic meaning and become fixated on it. Around the holidays, that stress is augmented by concerns over delivery times and return policies.
Beware the Symptoms
Gift anxiety issues are usually fired like a projectile on your customer support team, at a time when they’re already stretched by higher than normal volumes.
Many businesses become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of incoming customer requests. Service suffers, customers complain, and your team grows frustrated and annoyed leading to more customer complaints.
This results are negative reviews that can hurt your brand and a missed opportunity to earn repeat business.
On the other hand, relieving some of your customer’s gifting pressure through a pleasant and calm customer experience can earn you a loyal customer.
I know what you’re thinking.
At a time when everyone is so busy prepping their products, campaigns, warehouses, and so on, who has time to spend on customer service?
We get it but only a few hours of prep can save you a lot of heartache. Try at least one of the items below this Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
Here’s a checklist of 6 things you can do in less than one day to get ready:
1. Clean up your FAQ and support templates. Under-promise on resources that are strained (and over-deliver later). Use language that is reassuring. Don’t capitalize or emphasize words like NOT and DON’T. Be positive & friendly.
For example, don’t promise 2 day delivery if at high volumes you may not be able to keep your promise. Instead, write that packages typically arrive within 3-4 days.
Another example: Change your promised response time to 4 hours and not 1 hour.
2. Over-communicate. Over-communicate things like expected delivery times, gift wrap options, and return policies. Don’t expect customers to go to your FAQ. Assume they’re too busy for that and make sure the most top of mind gifting questions are answered first and, ideally on every product page. Include all the important details in your confirmation emails as well.
In our experience, the most important question on people’s minds is: “Will it get there in time?” Followed by: “If they don’t like it or it doesn’t fit, can they return/exchange?”
3. Refresh staff training. Go over policies and troubleshooting techniques. Let them know when to escalate and when to use judgment. Emphasize using positive tone and kind words. Remind them to avoid blaming the customer. For example: “I see there is an incorrect address” and not “You entered the wrong address.”
4. Visibility. Make sure support channels are clearly listed on every page of your site otherwise customers will go to Facebook or Twitter. The last thing you want is for them to leave the website. Even worse if it’s to shame you in public.
5. Encourage a calm environment. Teach the team a few tactics for stress management and dealing with difficult customers (laughter, deep breaths). If everyone is in the same location, throw up some posters with funny customer service memes. Make sure everyone is well fed if they’re pulling long hours lest they get Hangry at customers. Keep the coffee hot and the snacks flowing.
6. Advanced tip: Lead customers to your least loaded channel. List your support channels in order of efficiency: FAQ or knowledge base should always be first. Texting is naturally the best default for customer reach out. Email support is third in terms of efficiency. Last, of course, is phone calls. If you think your audience will bear it, eliminate them altogether. They’re a huge time sink. For those of you that have live chat, if you have the staff, keep it on product pages to help with conversions but for pure support, stick to texting so you can prioritize without pressure.