'It's the most wonderful time of the year. There'll be much mistltoeing. Hearts will be glowing. When loved ones are near'.
These lovely words, from the world famous Christmas song by Andy Williams, describe the feelings of millions during the holiday season. As a web store owner, maybe you have the same feelings, but for you the holiday season is first and foremost the most important time of the year!
Some E-commerce stores make 20-40% of their annual sales during the holiday season. A wonderful time indeed! But also a very busy time! You've got campaigns running, stock levels to maintain, packages to send and on top of that you also have customers emailing you with questions.
Answering questions from customers can be a time consuming pain in the back side and many web store owners rather do less of it. So, during the busy season customer service often gets neglected.
My advise would be the exact opposite: you need to do more of it, especially during the holiday season.
The business case for happy customers
Every respectable marketing or e-commerce blog in the world will tell you that delivering great customer service can be a powerful growth strategy for a web store.
Still, most web store owners see customer service as a time consuming necessary evil; the cost of doing business. They often prefer to focus more on generating new customers through AdWords, banner ads, video advertising and other marketing tactics.
Obviously these marketing activities are important because they drive traffic and new customers to your store. But it's your customer service that builds trust, makes online shoppers buy from you, return for more and tell others about your store.Here's 5 powerful stats that illustrate the impacts of customer service on buying behaviour:
- 81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence outperform their competition (Source: Buffer)
- 98% of respondents said that customer experience is in the top 3 factors to decide whether or not to buy from you (Source: Kissmetrics)
- 81% of customers say that they are more likely to give a company repeat business after a good service experience (Source: American Express)
- On average consumers share a positive experience with 15 people (Source: American Express)
- 92% percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising when making a purchase decision (Source: Nielsen)
Why up your game during the busy season?
There are two reasons for web store owners, to apply more focus to customer service during the Holiday Season:
- to increase revenue
- to reduce marketing costs
During the Holiday Season you spend more money on advertising than you usually do. This means you drive more new visitors to your web store and - hopefully - you also convert more first time buyers than in any other period of the year.
This presents you with the opportunity to delight all these new visitors with great service which directly contributes to your conversion goals and hugely increases your chances to turn first time buyers into loyal customers.
But your freshly applied super focus on customer service does not only help to build conversions and revenu, it also seriously reduces marketing costs and increases your chances of building a sustainable, profitable e-commerce business.
Take AdWords for example. AdWords can be an effective marketing tactic, but it's also an expensive tactic. And when your highly paid AdWords customers don't come back for more, you'll never break out of the rat race.
But if one in five AdWords customer comes back to buy again… you've just reduced your marketing acquisition costs per order and/or per customer by 20%. Can you really afford not to?
One very important tip to get you started
Offering great customer service is not hard to do. All you need to do - as a web store - is reply to the customers’ question quickly, do what you can to solve the problem and be friendly throughout.
The real problem is not in the actual act of providing service. The real problem is your headset. Do you see customer service as the cost of doing business? Then that's what it always will be.
Or do you see customer service as a massive opportunity to increase revenue and reduce marketing costs? If that’s your headset, you have a good chance of making it happen for your business. Starting this very Christmas!
In a nutshell:
Great customer service helps you make your marketing buck worth while and allows you to use the holiday season as a spring board towards more revenue in 2014. And that is why you need to up your game in customer service. Now.
Michiel Gaasterland is Marketing Director at ROBIN – the intelligent customer service app for web stores. ROBIN is one of the best performing apps in the SEOshop app store. You can read more of Michiel’s posts on customer service and e-commerce on the ROBIN blog. You can reach him directly via email@example.com