Customer Service: 4 Ways to Reduce Holiday Support Requests

Four easy to implement optimizations that will reduce the workload for your customer service department this holiday season!

If anyone deserves the MVP award after a long, busy holiday shopping season, it’s the customer service department. Your agents are responsible for customer satisfaction, and ultimately loyalty and retention. This gets tougher during the peak retail season with a large influx of orders from new customers and gift givers. These shoppers are more likely to have questions, anxieties, and post purchase dissonance, which adds up to an increased workload.
The National Retail Federation predicts that 2019 holiday sales will increase 3.8% in November and 4.2% in December, year-over-year. The good news is that this means $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion in spending. The bad news is that it inevitably means a whole lot of holiday support tickets for your team.While there’s no silver bullet for online retailers to eliminate all support requests, there are certainly ways to reduce them. This article highlights four essential changes you should make to reduce tickets and optimize customer service efficiency for holiday 2019.


Knowledge Base & FAQ Section


The first way to mitigate support requests is to give customers a chance to answer questions on their own. BigCommerce notes that over 35% of customer’s questions can be answered through a brand’s FAQ or help center content!

Furthermore, your customers no longer look at these resources as a perk – but rather a necessity. According to Super Office, 70% of customers now expect online businesses to include self-service applications. The bottom line is that they don’t want to be forced to reach out for smaller issues.

Aside from those related to products or services, some of the most commonly asked questions are probably policy centric. It’s a good idea to gather all of these into one helpful, easy to find knowledge base. Include your return policy, contact information, warranty details, terms of use, privacy, care instructions, and more.

Providing this information promotes transparency and helps to build customers’ trust in your ecommerce store. Brands who are vague about their policies will be stuck on the phone answering countless questions about them.

Every online store should be maintaining a solid FAQ section to save time by addressing common questions with straightforward answers. One of the best tips concerning FAQ sections is to avoid the “set it and forget it” mentality. Treat this section as a living document that reflects the calls you receive on a daily basis. This ensures that it stays current and helpful for customers.

The FAQ section is also a tremendous SEO booster, producing content for customers who are further along in the sales funnel. This results in highly targeted traffic who are educating themselves to make a purchase.

As the holidays approach, some brands have introduced a holiday FAQ. Here they can address extended return policies, increased processing time, free shipping offers, and other seasonal information. Work with your customer service team to find any recurring questions or concepts that would be worth addressing here.


Perfect the Product Page


The product page is the ultimate pre-purchase battleground, where presentation is everything. Optimizing this page will increase conversion, mitigate dissonance, and lessen future support calls. We’ve put together a quick checklist to see if your product page is ready for the holiday season.

Product Descriptions: Do long product descriptions work better than short ones? The answer is actually that they both work, and it’s best to include both! 79% of shoppers scan descriptions, so offering a short bulleted list that gets to the point is highly effective. Having an expandable version that is richer and more in depth will convert those customers who like to read.

Images: 22% of customer returns are due to an item looking different in person. By focusing on crisp, beautiful imagery that captures the essence of your products you will mitigate these future issues.

Size Chart: Bizrate Insights recently conducted a survey that found 55% of shoppers cited sizing issues as their number one reason for returning a product. Getting ahead of this issue could cut down on half of your customer service calls if your business is apparel!

Customer Reviews: In today’s social driven world, peer reviews are crucial in the consideration stage. Sellbrite has found that displaying reviews can increase conversion 270% and that 72% of consumers won’t take action without them!

Estimated Delivery Date: Avoid “Where’s my order” calls by setting expectations from the start using an estimated delivery date. This combines processing time, customer location, and carrier data to give an exact arrival date.

Q&A: By letting users ask questions and get the appropriate answers during the pre-purchase you can cover ground that goes way beyond your product description. This section also demonstrates that other people are also interested in the product, and uses the consumer generated content approach to aid conversion.

FAQ: Harvard Business Review found that brands had an 86% higher chance to convert customers when they made it easy for them to gather relevant product information. They also added that there was a 9% chance for a repurchase, and 115% chance to be recommended to a friend! By validating customers early in the pre-purchase journey you mitigate the chance of regret later.

Returns Policy: One in ten shoppers compare brands based on their returns policy. Making yours hard to find leaves them with two options, calling to inquire or abandoning you for the competition. Get ahead by linking your policy from the product page to put customers at ease.

While many of these tactics may be conversion-oriented, they work together to lessen calls in advance. Remember, the goal here is to get the right information in the hands of the customer. Boost their confidence to ensure they purchase the right item, giving them no need to call later.


Proactive Notifications Throughout the Shipping Process


Customers want to hear from you after they buy, it reduces worry and any potential post-purchase dissonance. Companies who aren’t proactively notifying their customers throughout the shipping process are practically setting themselves up for future WISMO calls. Most customers (83%) say that they expect these transactional messages from brands when online shopping.

Transactional messages come at a time when customers are eagerly awaiting news about their order. Therefore it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that these messages outperform marketing communications by a long shot, by as much as 60% when it comes to email!

Set the tone of the experience by starting with the order confirmation email as soon as the item is purchased. This message puts customers at ease as they await the shipping confirmation once the item is processed and out the door. Make sure to include a link to branded tracking page so they have all necessary information at their fingertips.

Email is a cornerstone, but it’s important that you offer communication through other channels your customers most prefer. Transactional SMS notifications have an average 98% open rate. Not surprising considering that mobile comprises 65% of our total time online. Texting keeps up with modern shoppers’ on-the-go lifestyle and creates an effortless experience.

Keep customers informed but never overwhelmed by letting them choose. Make it easy for customers to opt in immediately after their purchase on the “thank you” page. Include the option again in the order detail page, which also serves as a way to opt out if they should change their mind. Making it easy for them to receive or opt out your communications empowers the customer to tailor their own experience.

SMS notifications provide up to date information from the carrier to cut back on WISMO and other service calls. Aside from knowing where their package is at all times, customers can also mitigate potential issues in transit. These include; changing a wrong address, rerouting a shipment, expecting a weather delay, or simply knowing when to be home to get a package off the stoop!

Be sure to provide the same proactivity to the returns shipping in the event that the customer is not pleased with their purchase. This gets ahead of “when will I get my refund” questions by offering the same clarity in shipment details as the incoming package had. This way, the customer knows when you the item back, and when you issue the refund, so they have no need to phone. Speaking of returns, that leads us to our next point.


Self-Service Returns


Coming in just behind WISMO, the second most common form of customer service calls are those concerning returns and exchanges. There’s no changing the fact that returns are a necessary part of the ecommerce business model, but that doesn’t mean we can’t optimize for efficiency. Reduce the number of calls to your support center by letting customers easily initiate returns through their “my account” page.

Use the returns initiation process to ask important questions about the situation such as the reason for return and item’s condition. This will give you valuable analytics data to compile into action items that could get ahead of future returns. It will also prepare your team for the packages that are coming back, avoiding warehouse pile ups. Make sure to optimize the flow and make it easy for your customers so they don’t have to make a phone call.

Once your team utilizes the provided information to approve the return, speed up the process for customers by allowing them to generate their own return label. Self-generated labels save customers time and save your brand the $.45 of pre-printing costs per label. By empowering customers to take matters into their own hands you are giving them the 2019 version of good customer service – an effortless experience.

Another way to mitigate calls during the returns process is to make all return options very clear. Give equal representation to mail and in-store returns, so the customer can take the best decision.

Many may choose to mail their item back, but the fact remains that 62% of customers are more likely to shop online if they can make a return in a physical brick and mortar location. This is a preferred method because it lets customers ask your store staff any questions they may have about the returns process, freeing up your HQ support team to handle other issues. In-store returns also mitigate customer concerns over mailing packages back to you, a situation that can prompt more nervous phone calls.

Giving customers the option of store credit or gift card refunds will hasten the process and eliminate the waiting period for money to come back to their account. Since period has a high likelihood of customer contact, getting them to choose these options over traditional cash refunds will lessen the load for your support team. Store credit also ensures that they’ll be spending the money back with you, so aside from mitigating a phone call you also ensure a sale!


No matter which way you look at it, the holiday season is going to be busy for your customer service department. However, you can cut down on the time they spend handing common support calls by optimizing key areas of your pre and post purchase experience. See how WeSupply can help you set the right expectations on the product page, proactively communicate through the order process, and make returns more efficientWe think your service team will thank you!