Customers are for life, not just for Christmas

Don’t let all your hard work acquiring customers go to waste this festive season
Christmas shopping on Oxford Street London

There’s a reason this is called the ‘Golden Quarter’. The last three months of the calendar year represent nothing short of a shopping frenzy, as major festivals and shopping events collide and retailers battle for a share of the customer’s wallet. And this year, while experts reckon there is more than $200bn (£169bn) on the table, that wallet looks like it might be an even tighter squeeze, with UK shoppers set to spend £4.7bn less in Q4 2022 than they did the year before.

It’s too late to do anything about that now. Black Friday 2022 has already been and gone and there are only a scant couple of weeks until Christmas. Before you know it, 2023 will be upon us. What matters now is what happens next.

“If it’s all going to plan, you’re going to get lots of new customers at Christmas. If you can hold onto them and carry them forward into 2023 with repeat revenue, that’s going to be critical to next year’s success. It’s vital you don’t mess that up,” warns Ray Nolan, CEO of ecommerce helpdesk provider eDesk.

It’s safe to say that while a cost-of-living squeeze means it looks as though less will be spent overall, there will be high expectations of the purchases that are made. With every penny counting, consumers will want to be sure that not a single one is wasted.

And so, come Christmas morning, when wrapping paper is torn off, gifts unboxed and gadgets just refuse to turn on – forget the elves, it’s businesses’ turn to be there with bells on.

It’s all very well saying ‘Be there when the customer needs you’, but few companies have the capacity to scale up to meet a deluge of service enquiries at a moment’s notice. So, how do you keep thousands of new customers happy (or make them less sad) when your customer care team is typically five or maybe 10 strong, at most?

“You need to have all the metrics, be able to see all the problem products in one place, wherever you’re selling – whether that’s Amazon, Shopify or Magento. Your team needs to be able to deal with it all from one place, consistently,” says Nolan.

“Automation is also key,” he adds, explaining that today’s global marketplace means customer service agents don’t just have to respond to large volumes of queries, they may well have to do it in multiple languages. “One London client of eDesk has three agents managing the whole of their European and US business, and they can manage Europe because of our auto-translation engine.”

You need to have all the metrics, be able to see all the problem products in one place, wherever you’re selling

But still, investing in customer care can be something of an afterthought – which is a mistake. “It all starts on 25 December, whether they want to return something that doesn’t fit or suit, or they can’t get it to work or it has arrived broken. This is where those relationships are really won or lost,” Nolan insists. “You’ve worked too hard to acquire those customers in those mad months in Q4, to go and lose them again right after.”

How companies perceive the role of customer service in their business is critical to post-December success. Viewing it as a cost of doing business is missing the point. Not providing five-star aftercare in the current climate is an opportunity cost that’s too big to bear. “The inevitable surge in support tickets is a golden opportunity to build brand loyalty really easily. It’s all in the psychology,” explains Nolan. “Sentiment analysis studies find that customer satisfaction towards a business where there has been a problem which was swiftly resolved is regularly higher than towards one where everything was plain sailing and there was nothing to write home about.”

And ‘writing home’ is exactly what you want your customers to do. Reviews are the final piece of the puzzle, according to eDesk. “If you typically get 100 sales a day and suddenly you’re getting 5,000 just in December, that’s 5,000 potentially really good reviews. Putting that back onto your profile or your website fuels the social proof that you’re a great, trusted seller,” Nolan explains.

Delivering a fantastic aftercare service, then, isn’t just the first step towards a potentially long-lasting and loyal customer relationship. It also brings that all-important advocacy – the icing on the Christmas cake.

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