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BizReport : Ecommerce : April 09, 2014

Retailers: How to start your holiday strategy now

With more than seven months until Christmas, most retailers believe there is plenty of time to develop a strong holiday strategy. The truth is, time is short - because shoppers will begin buying in October, which means ad campaigns in place and running by September. Kristina: What trends are you seeing in ecommerce?

by Kristina Knight

Sam Boonin, Vice President of Products, Zendesk: Customer engagement - truly knowing your customers and reaching out to them before they reach out to you - is becoming the norm in e-commerce. This type of relationship is creating more impactful conversations and therefore happier customers. For example, JackThreads has integrated their order information into Zendesk to develop context about their customers as they reach out. This data helps agents know why customers contacted them and allows them to proactively reach out when a snafu, such as delayed shipments, is caught in the system.

Kristina: The 2014 holidays are months away, but should retailers begin preparing now? Why?

Sam: Retailers are facing a few big issues, but with proper planning and support they can make the 2014 holiday season the best one yet. The first step is better predicting the seasonal increase of customer service requests and developing the right level of staffing and customer support systems prior to the holiday season to manage the influx. Second, retailers must ensure customer service representatives can be as efficient as possible, while still having meaningful interactions with customers. Finally, retailers need to implement more self-service resources in the places where customers need them most--information such as FAQs, community forums and product literature where customers are shopping online or seeking help.

Kristina: What are your top 4 tips for retailers to create an engaging customer experience for the 2014 holidays?

Sam: • Learn from your mistakes - Acknowledge and analyze all feedback, both negative and positive, to give your customers a pleasant experience.
• Start now - Take what you learned from last year and start implementing the proper programs, staffing models, and help centers to be ready for this holiday season.
• Be engaging - Meet customers on the channel in which they originally reached out, whether that be by phone, email, chat, etc. When your customer support staff can engage customers in real-time conversations on their preferred channel, they tend to be more efficient and customers more satisfied.
• Be an expert - Ensure that each member of the support staff is an expert on at least one inquiry field. Playing to your agents' strengths will increase efficiency as well as customer trust and confidence.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: 2014 holidays, ecommerce, holiday advertising tips, holiday ecommerce strategy, zendesk

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