Customer Service Essentials for a Fruitful Cyber Monday
The holiday season has expanded in recent years. Advertisements and commercials in October? Crazy, indeed. What used to be just a few special days with friends and family now includes shopping and the expectation of great deals. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now two of the most highly anticipated days of the year for many consumers — and critical dates on the calendar for many retailers and small-business owners alike.
But amid the opportunity comes risk. Chasing extra profits is the name of any sales game, but businesses need to make sure they don’t shoot themselves in the foot by promising more than they can deliver.
This means that, on this Cyber Monday, companies must make customer service a top priority. This one day can make or break your whole holiday season, so don’t be on the wrong side of the equation.
Ensure Your Inventory
The first and most critical rule is simple: Don’t offer a sale you cannot deliver upon. Many companies have been caught off-guard when a promotion goes gangbusters. And, too many consumers pining for your product could be considered a good problem to have, too. If you can honor all those unexpected sales in a quick and timely manner, the outcome will be extra profits on higher volume.
But if you end up not being able to fulfill every transaction, then you just created an issue that could sour a consumer to your brand forever. Then, think about this: How many people will they tell about it? Word of mouth and link sharing is a hallmark of Cyber Monday, with many shoppers trying to one-up their friends in finding the best deal. So failing to deliver, either completely or in terms of major shipping delays, could turn Cyber Monday into a black Monday — for the seller.
As you roll out your promotions, be sure you do not over-promise and under-deliver. And, if the worst-case scenario comes to pass and you simply cannot get customers their purchases in time, be upfront and swift with any necessary refunds. Though it could add extra financial pain to the problem, you may even want to throw in a discount on their next purchase. After all, it was your fault their cash was tied up — and good customer service means making up for your failing.
Stay on Brand
To chase a quick sales buck, some companies get away from their core messaging. While the instinct to follow the crowd is understandable, don’t throw away your reputation going after a one-day win.
One company that has mastered holiday promotions is TireBuyer.com. Its deals are all readily available on one simple webpage that also helps inform the customer as to why today is the day to make their purchase. It bills itself as a grounded, essential service provider and carries that through in its online presence. “Forget the cheap TVs — save on something you really need,” notes one of its offers.
Outdoor retailer REI also found headline-making benefits from not taking advantage of Black Friday last year. Its hashtag #OptOutside went viral, with the company closing its stores the day after Thanksgiving so that its employees could enjoy time with their loved ones in the great outdoors. The retailer may have missed out on a big revenue day, but it further solidified itself as a brand that cares in the eyes of its loyal customers.
Realize Consumers Have Omnichannel Expectations
In the earlier days of social media, it was common for companies to make special offers just for their Facebook community or launch exclusive Twitter promotions. But, in most cases, that’s no longer appropriate.
Modern Internet users, especially younger “digital natives,” are turned off by such behavior. They choose certain platforms that suit their preferred means of interaction and don’t want to be left out just because they like Snapchat and now think Facebook is just for parents. If they hear someone got a better deal just because they were on a different social network, they certainly will not be happy — and may even air their grievances while directly mentioning your brand.
Along the same lines, today’s consumers have no time for your internal operational barriers. If they started off talking to a representative by direct message on Twitter but then need to move over to a phone call to finalize a resolution, they expect their information to be on file and the person on the other end of the line to be aware of their concern. Keep this in mind: If you tell the world that you use any channel of communication, monitor it in real time and engage anyone who interacts with you through those means.
Be Fast, Be Accurate, Be Ready
Cyber Monday is an online experience. If you aren’t ready to compete with the big boys, then it might make more sense to bow out. Because today’s Internet buyer expects transactions to go from start to finish in the blink of an eye.
Is your system up to the task? Do you have support on hand to manage any potential hiccups? Can you process a high volume of sales without making mistakes or watching your server go offline?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then don’t waste your time this year trying to connect on a Hail Mary play. Instead of risking your reputation and ruining a future customer’s day, start planning now for next year. While Cyber Monday might be a one-day event from the outsider’s perspective, preparing to make it really work for your company takes months of planning — and years of built-up knowledge and experience.