As we approach the busiest time of year for most businesses there’s a lot that needs to be done to prepare. Making sure you have enough products for the rush, online marketing efforts, print advertising, proper PR coverage, and so much more. An often forgotten essential area to prepare is in the area of online customer service.
Having more and more customers come into your business, shop on your website, or order your services during this time of year comes with possible customer service nightmares. Out of stock products, bad experiences in store or online, shipping delays due to inclement weather, long lines, or trouble returning gifts could cause an online customer service nightmare if you aren’t careful.
There are a few things you can do now to prepare for the possible customer service nightmares come Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any other time throughout the holiday shopping season.
When users have a problem on your site, in your store, or with your products some might use Facebook to complain. They also might use Facebook to sing your praises. Make sure your Page allows fans to post photos, post comments, and tag you in posts. Sure, by not allowing fans to do these activities you won’t have ‘bad press’ on your wall – but you might miss out on the opportunity to have a fan post something great.
Another tip – set up the admin notifications to be sent to you via e-mail when someone posts, comments or tags. Brands like Pure Matters, who sell vitamins, engage with their Facebook fans and answer customer service questions right away. With notifications you and your team can be notified immediately whenever someone posts. If it’s bad – then you can address it. If it’s good you can thank the fan for it. Make sure team members are responding in a timely manner and with the right messaging. Prepare standardized (but customizable) responses for fans who might have a problem with the website, with a product, or have a question – which can save your team precious hours during this busy time.
Just like with Facebook, users who have a problem might opt to use Twitter to complain. Set up notifications via Twitter to e-mail you and your team when someone @ replies you or sends you a DM during the holiday season. The last thing your business wants is to leave someone stranded when they have a problem with your products or services. Just as with Facebook, prepare standardized but customizable responses for followers who complain via Twitter. Keep them short, be polite, and whenever possible take the conversation offline to address their concerns.
@ComcastCares does a great job on behalf of Comcast TV and Internet, not just around the holidays but year round. Their team monitors their accounts regularly and responds quickly too.
Offer deals for users who check-in to your store. Think about the deals you want to offer and get ready for them in advance. Add tips to your Foursquare page if applicable, upload photos, and advertise in store to remind visitors to check in. Check your account often to make sure bad tips or comments aren’t going unanswered.
If you haven’t done so already claim all applicable accounts for your business on sites like Google Maps, Yahoo Local, and Yelp. Set them up to notify you via e-mail when a new review is left. Have your team look for bad reviews and respond when appropriate. Bad reviews can cost you money, especially during the busy season.
Set up Google Alerts for your brand name and negative terms around your brand name as well. Terms like “don’t by from ____” or “_____ sucks” you can get alerted to via Google Alerts. Have team member evaluate these alerts and respond when applicable.
If you don’t already have a frequently asked questions section on your website now is the time to get one together. Think about all the questions customers often ask whether via e-mail, via phone or through social media. Add the content to your site and let your social media team know to direct users to the sections of the site that contain the right answer for customers.
When a customer complains do you have a standard policy on how much you’ll discount or refund to address their problem? Instead of dealing with it on a case by case basis use this time before the rush to put together a policy and train your team as to the particulars of the policy.
These are just a few of the ways your business can prepare for the holiday rush and avoid customer service nightmares. Have more to add? Feel free in the comments below!