A recent study by Trustpilot has revealed that in both 2015 and 2016, negative online reviews have steadily increased over the period from Black Friday up until Christmas – and the majority of these reviews are concerned with poor experiences with delivery and customer service.

Shoppers leaving one-star reviews in November and December were found overwhelmingly to be commenting with phrases like “still waiting”, “days later” and “will never” – certainly not the type of reviews you (or indeed other customers) want to see on your site.

We all know that pressures are high during the holiday season – more orders and increased phone calls and customer service queries plus dealing with prepping for sale and the horror that is Black Friday.  But what we can often lose sight of is the fact that customer expectation also increase considerably during the same period. Stress over multiple online purchases, chasing sale bargains and trying to juggle delivery and click and collect options can leave customers all too ready to snap – and that’s when the bad reviews appear. So how can online retailers make sure the same doesn’t happen this year?

Customer service first

Do you need to hire extra staff over the Christmas period? OK – you probably should have done it by now, but there’s still time.  Utilise your current staff effectively and place them where they’re of most value – whether that’s picking and packing or providing first-class customer service on the phone.

Use technology

Even small retailers can make use of technology to streamline their customer service and order processing functions. Why not consider:

  • Using a customer service software like Zendesk to deal with enquiries. Utilise auto-response emails, macro templates for quick replies and handling time tracking.
  • Add an auto-response to your Facebook Messenger so customers don’t assume they’ll get an instant reply.
  • Integrate your order processing and shipping partners – if your team still manually type out address labels, this one is for you.
  • Make call handling easier with call waiting and menu options.

Tell your customers what they need to know

Most customers will only contact a business when they can’t find the answers themselves. So have a think – does your Help or FAQ section really have enough info? Are you sending your customers full tracking information and order updates? Take a look at your most common queries and try to provide the answers before the questions are asked.

Communicate with your delivery partners

Keeping in regular contact with your delivery providers can help solve potential issues before they get out of hand, and provide you with the right details to communicate to your customers.  Ask key questions – have they increased their staffing levels, or are they offering Sunday deliveries?

Live delivery status updates

 If there is a problem, make sure it’s communicated – and in an obvious place.  Using homepage banners to advise of delivery delays or order cut-offs can help alleviate customer worries.


Be realistic

If you know it takes 24 hours to reply to customer emails, then write that on your auto-response.  If Royal Mail’s delivery cut-off for Christmas is 21st December and you think that’s leaving it pretty late, why not tell customers your order deadline is the 19th instead?


Know your limits 

It’s always best to work to what you know you can confidently achieve, rather than over-promising and then potentially not delivering.  So if on Black Friday you need to turn off the Next-Day Delivery option to make sure you meet customer expectations, then do it! Your customers will thank you more in the long run (as will your ratings).


Want to know more about getting your business ready for the holiday season? Why not get in touch today to see how we can help!

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