Amidst the shopping lists and travel plans, the holiday season provides a golden opportunity to deliver unforgettable customer experiences. For businesses in the retail sector, it all comes down to careful planning and well-executed customer support practices. Multiple teams within an organization must work in synchronization to ensure a rewarding customer experience for all. The team members must be prepared to handle all types of customers – from calm list-makers to the panic-stricken, last-minute shoppers running between aisles as items start running out. Not only that, once the key shopping days have passed, retail organizations should expect a steady flow of customers coming in – this time looking to return, exchange, or get a refund on a gift. As many experienced sales managers will agree, the days leading up to the holiday season is the ideal time to retrain employees. Whether they provide customer service to seasonal shoppers on the floor or over a live chat window, employees should be able to do so in a professional yet friendly manner.
KEEP EVERYONE IN THE LOOP
Memorable customer experiences hinge on clear and timely communication within the ranks of the organization. Any lapse in communication can result in a broken brand promise which, in turn, can hamper any existing customer loyalty. Management, especially store managers, must ensure that any promotional campaigns are communicated with team members – especially those in customer-facing roles.
TIMELY INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
A successful retail campaign depends on skillful inventory management, but especially during the busy holiday season. Experienced retail professionals recommend that businesses adopt a centralized inventory and synchronize sales across all the outlets – online and offline. Another best practice involves steering clear of ‘overselling’. Instead, take steps to implement an order management process that systematically places a new order as certain items start running low.
PRE-HOLIDAY SALES PREPARATION CHECKLIST
Here are some tips for managers and business owners to implement ahead of the holiday rush:
❏ Make sure calm, cool, and collected employees are available at all points of contact. Stores can host stress management workshops for team members before the sales begin.
❏ Allocate adequate resources across to make sure each department can operate like any other day.
❏ Ensure that the live chat support service is operational, delivering swift responses to customers, and capable of catering to the maximum number of online visitors or shoppers.
❏ Make sure the official website is equipped to handle an uptick in traffic, specifically when it comes to uptime and page loading speed. A slow-loading website can result in online shoppers abandoning their shopping carts before making a payment.
❏ It is also important to remember that any coupons or redeemable vouchers, digital or paper-based, should be active. An outdated promotional code database can frustrate customers trying to complete their online orders.
Once the last of the tinsel has been removed from the window display, there remains one crucial aspect of customer experience management. That is collecting and interpreting sales activity to better understand the brand’s particular customer journey. The latest sales data, coupled with careful analysis, can result in meaningful and actionable insights. Depending on the implementation, those insights can improve the shopper’s in-store and online experience. The data itself can be in the form of complaints, feedback, data shared by website support service, purchases, average footfall per outlet, popular products, and so on. If needed, retail companies should hire extra manpower and dedicate additional resources to properly serve their customers.