When the holiday sales rush subsides, it’s traditionally followed by a second uptick in activity: The post-holiday returns period. The first few months of January can resemble Black Friday in reverse as customers flock to stores to exchange items they received over the holidays. This capstone to the festive season presents an opportunity for brands and retailers that are able to rise to the occasion: If you put enough focus on customer care, you can actually strengthen the relationships you’ve built with your customers.
Customer service teams that are adequate at other times of the year may find themselves overwhelmed by the volume of the post-holiday season, when so many shoppers come in with specific and tricky requests. This is where scalability becomes especially important: By giving adequate time and focus to each of your customers interested in making a return, you stand a better chance of delivering great service – and potentially enhancing loyalty.
Providing Great Returns
You’ll soon come face-to-face with the holiday-return crowd, so it’s important to consider what sorts of expectations those shoppers will have. Delivering a great experience is largely based around reaching or exceeding the bar set by customers, and studying modern buying behavior can help you stay informed of what you’ll be called upon to provide.
For the most part, today’s shoppers are aware of organizations’ policies regarding returns. This gives retailers a few responsibilities: First, you should set consistent and clear policies, and post them where people can find them easily. Second, you should make sure your customer care departments are aware of all the details contained within. Buyers who have studied up on return terms won’t be happy if representatives contradict them.
These helpful customer care representatives should be reachable through many different channels. Shoppers today have a lot of options regarding how they communicate with companies, and there is no consensus choice. Some people will gravitate toward social media channels, while others will want to reach out through email, the phone or a dedicated section of a retailer’s primary website. Being ready to serve on multiple platforms adds a greater chance that shoppers will reach your business on his or her first attempt, and not have the added frustration of failing to get through.
In light of the post-holiday return season, here’s another helpful tip: Extending the amount of time customers can return goods after a purchase is a good move. Some on-the-ball shoppers buy items for their friends and family members months in advance, and it could be disappointing if thinking ahead in this way has cost the gift recipients the ability to exchange the items.
The Value of Post-Holiday Service
The end of the holiday season is typically seen as a reset period after the hectic end of the year. However, if you offer compelling customer service in January, you can reap the benefits, including increased sales. While simply getting through the rush of returns unscathed can be a challenge, scaling up to a high level of service and care can even encourage customers to spend more. As Practical Ecommerce recently pointed out, there is commercial potential in an easy and smooth return process.
Customer service representatives processing returns and fielding questions can provide customers the chance to reap extra benefits if they make a further purchase in January, turning a transaction with no monetary value into one that can lead to additional income. When it comes to customer care, problem-solving is the key ingredient. Even if you aren’t in a position to work coupons or special offers into your return policies, you may benefit significantly from simply making returns as easy and painless as possible for customers. This starts with the way your customer care team deals with shoppers.
A Department that Scales Up
Retailers will have trouble executing crowd-pleasing and easy return strategies without enough personnel to deal with the sheer volume of customers. After the holidays, this may mean maintaining a higher employee count from peak season, or employing a flexible system that allows for scaling up on demand.
Working with a third-party customer care team is one way to enable this responsive attitude to service. Building up such a department internally can limit flexibility and lead to upfront costs that may cut into your profitability. To learn more about our customer care offering, get in touch with us.