Having a customer service plan in place before the holiday season is key to acing shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday.

A customer’s journey is longer than you might think. Traditionally, you’d assume that it begins with a customer finding you and ends with a sale. While important, what gives your business longevity is the returning customer.

To get started, you need:

A great product.

This step should be obvious. We’re going to go ahead and assume you have that covered.

A seamless shopping experience.

Easy to navigate website with a checkout process that makes shopping with you a breeze. Links to check out with the major financial tech companies, like PayPal, or subscription tie-ins on Apple or Google. These are basic components that keep you from getting a bad review.

Be available for questions.

Before and after the sale, customers often have questions about products, shipping, etc. A great way to stay available for common questions is a chatbot system. You can host it on your website or have it available on social message platforms, like Facebook Messenger. It’s a great opportunity to increase customer service without hiring 24/7 employees.

Be ready for difficult questions.

Chatbots are fantastic for frequently asked questions, but AI can only go so far. Having customer service representatives available is key to customer happiness. They will help customers with the more complicated situations, like shipping problems, defective items, etc. If your company doesn’t feel they have the budget to hire and train a contact center, there is always the option to outsource customer service, as well.

Reasonable return / customer satisfaction policies.

If you have an unhappy customer, be prepared to offer something in the way of discounts or refunds. Nobody wants to take the financial hit of a returned item, but the ROI could be well beyond these small investments in your customer satisfaction. That customer is more likely to remove a negative review and/or spread their good experience to their circle of potential customers if you offer a solution.

Follow-Up.

You want to hear from your customers. A lot of the time, the most vocal customers are the unhappy ones. Their criticism is key to improving, but you also want to hear from your satisfied customers! Send follow-up emails and encourage customers to leave a review.

Answer Customer Reviews.

Good or bad – reply. You might be tempted to ignore the 1-star review because you think its unjust, or the 5-star review because you think they’re a customer for life, but these interactions are essential to getting that customer to return in the future. Replying with a plan to rectify their problem can change that 1-star to a 5-star. Replying with gratitude can leave that 5-star review with a new appreciation for your company, keeping them coming back for years to come.

One bad experience can mean you lost a customer forever. What’s great is that there are lots of opportunities for redemption! Offer multiple customer service touch points and you’ll create a lifelong customer.

Article written by Brooke Simoncavage

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