The holiday shopping season is upon us, and do you know what that means? Someone is inevitably going to be injured fighting for a sweet deal on an Xbox One, interactive R2-D2 (probably me – sad beep), Apple Watch, or worse, a $10 crock pot.
In a recent Harris Poll, 23% of Americans said they would be willing to behave unethically if it meant leaving a retail store with the last hot holiday gift.
And that folks, is why more and more people are shopping online…
For Retailers It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
The latest figures from the National Retail Federation’s (NRF’s) Shop.org site project that holiday e-commerce sales in the U.S. will rise between 6 and 8% this year. For November and December 2015, U.S. retail e-commerce sales alone are expected to total as much as $105 billion of a projected $630.5 billion holiday haul.
The NRF projects that almost half (46%) of all holiday shopping will be done online this year, the highest percentage in the history of the NRF consumer survey, with 37.9% of smartphone owners using their device to research products and 21.4 % making purchases (also the highest numbers in the survey’s history).
Tablet owners are also taking a big share of mobile holiday shopping, with 47.5% using their device for product research and 34.5% using their tablets to make holiday purchases. The NRF estimates that 25 million U.S. holiday shoppers used their mobile devices to shop last year on Cyber Monday.
Will Your Brand Be on the Customer’s Naughty or Nice List?
So what do these growing numbers mean? More customers this year doing more shopping online, asking more questions and expecting better and faster service across more channels, including their smartphone.
Feeling stressed already that your brand might wind up on the naughty list for customer service? Consider this. According to LoyaltyOne’s October 2015 survey of more than 1,000 consumers, 47% of Cyber Monday shoppers said they’d be reluctant to make an in-store holiday season purchase from a retailer with whom they have an unhappy online experience. Son of a nutcracker….
So retailers, make your list and check in twice when it comes to online customer service preparedness. What do holiday customers wish for most in their experience?
(1) Convenience: Customers want to be able to engage with retail brands on the channel of their choice. If they have questions about a product or purchase, customers want real-time access to email, support ticketing, live chat and/or an easy-to-find customer support phone number. They may even reach out on social media. Make sure your brand is ready wherever the customer chooses to connect.
In addition, when customers have questions at one o’clock in the morning, they want to be able to find answers at one o’clock in the morning. Make sure your self-service answers and information are up-to-date and searchable both on your brand’s support portal and via the search engines.
According to Microsoft’s 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, more than 90% of the 4,000 respondents expect a brand to offer a self-service knowledge base; and according to Forrester Research, 55% of U.S. online adults say they are very likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question. That leads us to the next item on the holiday customer service wish list…
(2) Correct Answers: Whether a customer calls, emails or tweets, according to the American Express Customer Service Barometer, 99% of consumers say that getting a satisfactory answer or being connected to someone knowledgeable (98%) are the most important prerequisites to a great customer experience.
The National Retail Federation estimates up to 750,000 seasonal workers will be employed this holiday season. Empower these new employees, and all employees, to be immediate product and subject matter experts with the best and most up-to-date knowledge.
(3) Efficiency: For consumers caught up in the holiday rush, service doesn’t have to be delightful; it just needs to be as fast and easy as possible. In the Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report referenced above, “getting my issue resolved quickly” was said to be the most important aspect of a satisfying customer service experience. This is supported by Forrester Research, as well, which notes 77% of U.S. online adults say valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday and All Year Round Motivation
Referencing the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Report, 97% of global consumers say that customer service is important in their choice of and loyalty to a brand. In addition, 62% have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience. And 60% have higher expectations for customer service than they did last holiday season.
Will your brand be on customers’ naughty or nice list this year? It depends a lot on being good all year round when it comes to service.