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Preparing eCommerce customer service for the holiday tidal wave

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

eCommerce businesses need to plan for higher volumes of support requests as they gear up for the busiest shopping season of the year.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for eCommerce. Although stores have reopened, online shopping is still expected to dominate over the next few weeks. According to Adobe Analytics, U.S. holiday eCommerce sales are projected to hit a record high in 2021, reaching $207 billion between November and December.

However, more online shopping typically means more customer support requests. And with many businesses still experiencing supply chain issues and shipping delays, there will likely be an even bigger influx of customer tickets, calls, and emails coming in.

Most companies outsource agents or pay overtime to get through the holiday chaos. But those tactics might not work as effectively in 2021. If you want to provide excellent eCommerce customer service this season, you’ll need to rethink your approach. Here are three tips to help your support team successfully ride the holiday tidal wave.

Help your customers help themselves with self-service

Keep the number of customer requests at bay with a knowledge management solution. This allows you to set up a self-service help center and enables customers to troubleshoot issues on their own.

It helps quickly address common holiday questions like What are your holiday return and exchange policies? How do I personalize a gift? How long does international shipping take? All a customer has to do is type their question into the search bar and within seconds, they’ll see relevant articles or how-to videos pop up — it’s as simple as that.

You can also embed a help widget to streamline the process even further. It’s a scaled-down version of your help center that can be placed anywhere in your product or on your site.

Bottom line: If customers can answer their questions themselves, they won’t need to reach out to support. This in turn will save your agents time, reduce high call volume, and prevent tickets from piling up.

Anticipate increased customer demand with automations

Automations can benefit eCommerce customer service any time of the year, but especially during the holidays when demand is higher than usual. Automating specific tasks not only helps teams prepare for that demand but also helps them meet SLAs and avoid customer frustration. With automations, you can:

  • Better manage high workloads: Select who on your support team will be notified when it’s extra busy with calls or tickets.

  • Avoid unanswered tickets: Automatically assign tickets to agents to ensure tickets don't fall through the cracks.

  • Prevent long waits times: Notify a team lead if a customer is waiting too long for a callback and a specific wait time has been breached.

  • Keep operations running smoothly: Automatically close tickets that have been resolved or have gone without replies after 72 hours so they don't fill up your pending tickets.

If you stay one step ahead of customer demand, you can provide a better overall customer experience and keep customers coming back for future shopping needs.

Get seasonal agents up to speed with an internal knowledge base

Many businesses hire temporary support agents to help with the holiday surge. However, these agents typically go through minimal training before interacting with customers. The added headcount might seem helpful, but sending out a fleet of half-trained reps is likely going to do more harm than good.

If you want to onboard new agents quickly and effectively, having an internal knowledge base can have a significant impact. It helps your new hires ramp up faster and gives them access to all the information they need to be successful. It also ensures they help customers efficiently and are consistent with their responses.

This is especially useful when hiring agents who are working remotely. It can be challenging to share knowledge when they’re not in a call center with other agents around. But, with an internal knowledge base, they can still get answers to their questions.

Get your eCommerce customer service ready for the holiday rush

These next few weeks will be challenging for eCommerce customer service but the right tools and strategy can make all the difference. Make sure your customer support team is prepared for this holiday season and beyond.

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