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Tips for creating a great support experience during the holidays

Senior Product Marketing Manager, Intercom

Annie Berrones

@annieberrones

Main illustration: Olenka Malarecka

The holidays are quickly approaching, and for ecommerce businesses, that often results in significantly higher support volume for your team. 

To help you stay on top of your support this season – without increasing overhead – we’ve curated a few tips for automating your support load.

These tips apply broadly to many different automation products, but if you’re an Intercom customer, they’re actionable today and require no engineering work. The afternoon you spend customizing your automation today can unlock happier customers and hours saved for your teammates during the holiday season.

Tip 1: Automatically answer common holiday questions

Chatbots let you deliver fast answers 24/7 to the questions your customers are asking frequently – the ones that might be preventing them from making a purchase. For instance, studies have shown that shipping and delivery time influences 87% of shoppers’ purchase decisions. By using a chatbot like our Answer Bot, you can instantly resolve questions about delivery options and remove any hesitations they have.

What other questions can you automate, you might ask? Here’s a list of common questions our customers leave to Answer Bot:

Tip 2: Add video messages to immediately engage new customers

Imagine a new customer lands on your site for the first time. Instead of relying on them to navigate your site, greet them with a video that highlights your holiday offers and shows them where to find it. It’s like having a virtual salesperson for your store. If your new customer has further questions, a chatbot could then automatically route the conversation to the right team Inbox. For the extra touch, you could even level up support by setting up a holiday Inbox that offers faster responses for new customers.

During the holidays, new customers are likely to spend 50% more than return customers. But although they spend more, they’re generally harder to engage and convert than return customers. At Intercom we found that adding video to a chatbot can increase engagement by 4X!

“Adding video to your chatbot can increase engagement by 4X”

Tip 3: Proactively help customers on pages where they experience friction, like the Checkout page

A study of more than 18 million ecommerce sessions found that nearly 74% of US online shopping carts were abandoned last holiday season.

One of the best ways to help customers complete their order is by triggering a targeted, proactive message on the Checkout page, including the option to chat live with your support team:

By proactively offering customers access to help before they even have to ask, you can increase sales by as much as 3X what they could’ve been!

Tip 4: Empower customers to resolve their own holiday issues with self-service

Today’s customers overwhelmingly prefer self-service. In turn, this lets you reduce time spent on simple issues and improve your holiday bottom line. For a B2C business, the cost of a self-service transaction can be measured in pennies, while the average cost of a live service interaction (phone, email or web chat) totals more than $7.

Messengers and live chat are an ideal channel for self-service. For example, if you’re creating an FAQ article to address popular holiday questions, you can highlight the content to customers in the Messenger instead of making them search for it.

What’s more, when you integrate apps with the Intercom Messenger your customers can go beyond just chatting. They can get faster responses to transactional questions, like, “What’s my order status?” By combining Answer Bot with the Shopify app, customers can instantly check their order status, without having to start a conversation.

Tip 5: Manage customer expectations and let them know when they’re likely to get a response

This is the easiest and perhaps the most important tip to implement from our cheat sheet. To reduce customer frustration, proactively communicate response times during the holidays. By doing so, customers can plan their next move based on real-time information, instead of waiting around for a response that might take a few hours.

With Messenger, you can set clear expectations for holiday shoppers. First, tailor the Messenger intro to make your customers aware of your team’s availability or other important support issues. Second, if you’re providing extended holiday hours, you can adjust your team’s office hours and expected response times. To bring even more visibility to your team’s availability, you can use a chatbot to share your office hours anytime a customer asks a question.

Stay on top of your holiday support

The holidays are a huge opportunity to attract more customers and drive revenue, but with that often comes extra demands on your support team. Use automation and chatbots thoughtfully to keep your support workflows efficient and scalable.

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