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Are you tired of hearing it yet? The holiday season is just around the corner. This year poses a lot of challenges, from broken supply chains to slow shipping to stressed-out customers. But among the overwhelming support requests is a golden opportunity to send sales skyrocketing. Continue reading to learn how to increase sales while managing your customer service this holiday season.

Expect a holly, jolly holiday for sales.

Last year’s holiday shopping was hard to predict. But according to the National Retail Foundation, sales jumped 8.3% from 2019, surprising everyone. And e-commerce sales grew even more, with a 23.9% increase, despite pandemic-related difficulties.

This year, the retail landscape is even more uncertain, but the future’s still bright. Deloitte predicts a 5% year-over-year increase in holiday spending. And 40% of surveyed retail executives expect double-digit online growth.

And with more digital sales also comes more customer support requests. From “where’s my order” to “which size is right for me,” there’s no doubt your agents will be swamped with incoming communications.

Now’s the time to prepare your support team for the influx of business and set them up for success. Here are some ways you can give your team what they need to manage the higher service volume and capitalize on those conversations to increase sales.

1. Get ahead of low inventory and slow shipping.

While shoppers are returning to stores, there’s no shortage of pandemic-related problems. And customers are aware of the looming challenges. 74% of shoppers are concerned about stockouts, according to the Deloitte survey.

Since shoppers know to expect delays, that’ll likely be a deciding factor for which retailer they choose to shop with. Who has a track record of delivering on time? Who is the best at predicting inventory shortages?

And since you as the retailer can anticipate these concerns, you have an opportunity to provide top-tier customer service and attract more customers to your site.

What’ll it take to appease customers and increase sales? Full transparency. Be as upfront with your customers as possible with up-to-date inventory, proactive shipping notifications, and quick service should unexpected delays occur. 

Not only will proactive communication alleviate the strain on your customer service team, but it’ll leave customers feeling taken care of during a stressful time—making them more likely to shop with you in the future.

2. Tighten up customer service response times.

We probably don’t have to tell you response times matter. A customer call shouldn’t be put on hold for too long, an email needs a quick reply, and a text message requires almost an immediate response.

It’s just good customer service. It’s even the most critical factor customers use for determining what “good service” even means. A 2020 Zendesk survey reported that 61% of customers say quickly resolving their issue makes for a good customer experience. 

Just how fast of a response do customers expect?

Less than 5 minutes Less than 1 hour More than 1 hour
Phone 51% 34% 15%
Chat 28% 55% 17%
Text messaging 8% 44% 48%
Social media 7% 42% 51%
Email 6% 37% 57%

*Percentages are estimates

The scary part is that it only takes one bad experience for roughly half to switch to a competitor. This means tightening up your response times is vital to retail success.

3. Offer multiple ways for customers to contact you.

How many ways can your customers contact you? 

Looking back at the Zendesk report, 32% of customers said a good experience offers support through their preferred communication method. Yet, less than 30% of companies provide self-service, live chat, social messaging, in-app messaging, bots or peer-to-peer communities. 

This is a golden opportunity to stand out from the competition and offer communication channels that your customers prefer. 

While some retailers might be concerned that more communication channels will lead to a more complex contact center, a multi-channel engagement platform will help your team stay on top of conversations no matter where they occur. You can provide your customers with the multiple conversation channels they crave while simplifying management on the back end.

When you give your customers options, they’re often more likely to engage and continue shopping with you.

4. Enhance your team with chatbots.

Give your customer service team what they need most: TIME. The influx of sales goes hand in hand with an increase in customer service requests. If your team spends most of their time answering questions, they can’t provide the proactive service that makes customers want to come back for more.

Instead, bolster your team with chatbots. Use them to welcome customers and route requests to the correct department, ask for customer feedback, and more.

Switching seamlessly back and forth between chatbots and humans will manage your agents’ time while also giving your customers a complete experience.

5. Streamline omnichannel support.

Offering multiple communications channels is vital for excellent customer service, but the real magic comes when you use it in your sales process, too. 

Boost your holiday salesDeloitte predicts that 62% of shopping will be online this holiday season, while 33% will be in-store. This is actually a slight increase in in-store shopping over last year as shoppers begin to feel more comfortable in public spaces.

With customers spending more time in stores, they’ll be looking to embrace an omnichannel experience once again. 70% expect companies to collaborate on their behalf, according to the same Zendesk survey, which is often made more difficult with additional communications channels. 

Streamlining omnichannel support does two things:

  1. It saves your customer service team time since they have access to previous conversations, purchases, etc.
  2. And it can help customers make a purchasing decision and increase sales.

6. Accept payments right from messaging platforms.

Turn your busy customer contact center into a source of income. While agents answer questions and provide top-tier support, let them capitalize on a great customer experience by completing the sale right in a single messaging platform.

Integrating message-based payments into your messaging platforms is a great way to turn your already-busy contact center into a solid sales strategy. Help customers decide between sizes or answer product questions and then convert the sale right then and there. 

Not only will it show customers your team goes above and beyond for their convenience, but it will also help reduce abandoned shopping carts and increase sales.

Pair these tips with Quiq to increase your holiday sales.

Surviving the holidays in the retail world is always a balancing act. You need to provide excellent customer service amid the influx of last-minute shoppers and stressed-out customers. But you still need to focus on increasing sales and capitalize on the season.

Quiq is a conversational platform that helps you:

  • Connect with your customers on whichever platform they prefer, all from one streamlined interface.
  • Integrate communications with your CRM of choice, including Oracle, Zendesk, Salesforce, and more. 
  • Use context-aware AI to increase conversion rates, shorten wait times, and increase your average order value.

To learn how you can unlock the power of conversations and help increase sales during the holiday season, schedule a Quiq demo today.

Improve CX and sales for the holidays.

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