After a record Boxing Day sales, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has pointed to a bumper January, with Australian consumers continuing their spending ‘frenzy’ throughout this month.
Boxing Day and the January sales are amongst the busiest and most stressful times for Australian businesses, particularly those in retail. Customers expect exceptional and immediate service, particularly in the seasonal dash when nobody has time to wait around.
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The extra pressure on retail staff during the sale season is enormous, at a time when customers’ demands are at their highest.
Despite these holiday customer service challenges, there are ways to approach your customer service to prepare for the impending demands that will keep you, your business and most importantly, your customers, sane and successful.
But while many businesses believe that they must provide the gold standard in customer service, the extraordinary effort to delight is not only unnecessary, it’s dangerous for most Australian businesses.
Customer relief, not customer delight
Each year come the busy holiday and sale retail season, companies continue to invest in creating and replicating a delightful experience for their customers. Ironically, most have missed out on simply providing what customers actually need; an effortless experience.
This means solving customers’ problems quickly and smoothly, with minimal effort required on their part. Most customers do not need to be blown away, they just want to be relieved of making as much effort as possible.
The effortless experience helps to boost customer loyalty, measured by repeated business, increase in spending or saying good things about the company. There is almost no difference between the loyalty of customers whose expectations are exceeded and those whose expectations are simply met.
Furthermore, trying to delight a customer can often backfire if the attempt fails. Most of the time, a customer will contact you if something has gone wrong or if they have a query that requires an answer so they often begin the interaction with a less than positive mindset.
If a customer then has further negative experiences, such as talking to a staff member who cannot solve their problem immediately, being transferred to a different department, having to repeat information and being put on hold for a long time, this can compound.
In the effortless experience approach, it is critical to reduce factors that make the customer do more work to solve the problem. Remember, customers just want the problem to go away so they can get back to their regular life.
This approach is far more attainable, replicable, scalable and affordable for most Australian businesses. It results in significant savings in time, cost and resources, particularly at a time when your resources are already stretched to the limit.
How to give your customers an effortless experience
To really drive customer satisfaction and loyalty this summer, the best thing to do is take a step back and think about how to make your customers’ entire journey easier.
Identify certain pain points and try to reduce any effort required by the customer. With the upcoming busy season, retailers may choose to hire more service staff or rotate jobs more effectively around the existing team. This helps to ensure queues are shortened, staff are on hand to answer any queries and additional support is offered when needed.
For online businesses, many customers get frustrated at the checkout process. This problem can be efficiently addressed by embedding a link to a checkout tutorial or installing a live chat widget, so customers can get the help they need, without ever leaving the webpage. It’s also important to make information about your shipping and delivery options available on all pages of the shopping and checkout process so there are no surprises that lead to shopping cart abandonment.
Customers often prefer not to make the effort of contacting a business. A survey done by Zendesk revealed that 91% of the respondents would skip contacting a service team and find their own answers online instead, as long as it is a pleasant and easy experience.
By incorporating more user-friendly, self-help features, such as FAQs, product documentation and video tutorials, businesses can make it easy for customers to access the information they need. This effortless experience approach benefits the business too, as the number of calls, emails and live chats will drop significantly.
Delighting customers is great and some businesses will continue to play this game to impress their customers. However, as we hit the busy retail season, it makes sense for most of us to focus on how to make our customers’ lives as easy as possible.
An effortless experience is a good experience and you will reap the rewards.
Adam Clark is regional vice president of sales for Australia and New Zealand at Zendesk.