Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Gerard Adlum, Content Marketing Manager at eDesk by xSellco
While the rest of the world is winding down from mid-October through to January, those of us in eCommerce are only getting started!
An excellent 4th quarter can transform a slow year into a great one. However, making the most of the extra online activity is only possible if you have the right processes and procedures in place to deal with the influx of traffic.
We have analyzed our internal data across the past few years to create a comprehensive strategy for handling the huge volume of holiday season interest. Product queries take pole position as the most common type of question sellers receive, followed by order, shipping, and negative feedback.
1. Product queries
According to our customer support data, most of an online seller’s tickets are product queries – taking up 26 percent of your support team’s activities for the year.
Tips for handling product queries
Product queries include questions like, “How do I use this item” and complaints such as “The product I ordered is different to the online description.”
The good news here is that when it comes to product queries, you can anticipate most of your customers’ needs in advance.
- Boost your response times by predicting common issues that your customer might have when they receive their product. This involves being honest with yourself and impartially critiquing your products for flaws as well as taking note of what previous customers have actually said.
- Writing FAQs for your product listings, or adding a knowledge base to your online store that includes user guides and how-to videos, are efficient ways to address likely queries ahead of time.
There’s plenty you can do to help yourself once the product has left the warehouse too.
- Make sure that each member of your team is well-briefed about the “problem” products (the ones that, for whatever reason, receive many queries) and are armed with the correct, approved responses. This will speed up your business’ response times and allow you to maintain a consistent message throughout the support team.
- Send customers detailed product information and user guides in your follow-up thank you messages. Improve the customer experience of your store by getting into the habit of going the extra mile for your customer all year round. The idea here is that you provide the buyer with as much information as possible so that they can solve the issue themselves without escalating it to the support team. For many consumers, this is preferable to getting touch with the vendor.
2. Shipping queries
As you might expect, shoppers tend to get anxious about delivery times during the holiday season, and unfortunately, our support teams often bear the brunt of these feelings. It’s perhaps a little unfair on sellers, who themselves are often at the mercy of third-party delivery companies.
Your best hope for a painless delivery process is to make sure the communication between you and the buyer is crystal clear and as timely as possible.
Tips for handling shipping queries
As the seasonal deadlines approach you can expect a rise in shipping related queries, so an accurate response is crucial.
- xSellco’s purpose-built eCommerce helpdesk, eDesk, pulls in order information directly from the marketplaces you sell on. Providing sellers with an instant and accurate estimated delivery time. It also integrates with other software solutions you may be using like Shipstation or Veeqo, allowing you get up to the minute data on the specific location of delivery. eDesk also allows you to put pre-written templates in place so that you can respond to a query in one click.
- Expect the peak times for shipping queries around Dec. 20, when customers are worried that their parcels won’t arrive in time for Christmas. Ensure each team member is aware that delivery queries are going to be coming in thick and fast, and make sure they know how to get the necessary information quickly.
3. Order queries
Order queries rise by over 74 percent during the holiday period, based on our research. Typically, these are associated with uncertainty over the success of the order, “Has my order been dispatched?” or “I have not received confirmation of my order.”
Tips for handling order queries
Keeping your customers informed about their order will help reduce the number of queries you receive.
- Tell your customer when their order has been dispatched using automated message software. If you are selling on Amazon, you will need to send Amazon a dispatch notice one to two days after the order was placed. Failure to alert Amazon of the dispatch will affect your “late shipment rate” and “perfect order percentage” metrics.
- On any sales channel, never leave your customer waiting for a dispatch notice after they have placed an order. Knowledge removes anxiety and will reduce any queries related to uncertain fulfillment. If delays are likely, inform the customer how long the process will take within the order confirmation message.
4. Negative feedback
The most concerning trend we found was an average increase of 68 percent in negative feedback from customers during the holiday season. During the holidays the stakes are high, and when an item arrives late or isn’t as described it is both the customer and the gift recipient who are disappointed.
Learn from others’ mistakes and reduce the possibility of damaging your brand reputation and lowering your seller score.
Tips to reduce negative feedback
- Personalize your communication, using both the customer name and your name – this will help your customer identify with you and your brand.
- Always maintain a positive tone and avoid using negative language in your response. The positive wording suggests that the customer can expect a happy resolution to their problem and reduces the chances of the issue escalating into something more severe than it needs to be.
- Remember to apologize when you have made an error. It can be tempting to get defensive, but this helps no-one. Show your customer that you value their feedback and are willing to act upon it.
- Combat any potential rise in negative reviews by asking for feedback from shoppers who had a flawless experience. eDesk has an inbuilt, though optional, feedback system that can do this on your behalf automatically.
Don’t let all your hard work for the past year go to waste by allowing your standards to drop due to increased pressure. After all, your seller ratings are for the whole year, not just Christmas!
Don’t forget to bring the holiday cheer!
Armed with the right information in advance, you can improve your customer service this holiday season and start 2019 on a positive note. Please don’t be afraid to let your customer support team show their personality (within reason, of course) and encourage them to get into the holiday spirit when communicating with your customers. A simple “Merry Xmas” or “Best wishes of the season” doesn’t cost anything and can bring a bit of festive joy into both parties’ day.
eDesk is the next-generation helpdesk, built for eCommerce from the ground up. It natively integrates will all of the major marketplaces and channels, saving you time, money and headaches. Start your free trial today.
xSellco offers a suite of products which help sellers all over the world accelerate growth in every aspect of their business. From sales, to engagement, to support, to reputation, more than 3,000 customers globally are selling more with xSellco.