7 Ways to Delight Your Customers This Holiday Season

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Rami El-Abidin


Last holiday season, I ordered myself a KitchenAid stand mixer to streamline baking duties over the holidays. Unfortunately, the mixer was delivered to an incorrect, albeit very similar, address across town (my mistake? perhaps). I tried to hunt down the lost mixer to no avail; maybe someone had taken advantage of a happy accident.

holiday customer service

I called KitchenAid support and told them my story. Customer service was lovely, attentive, and authentically interested in my holiday plans. The positive attitude alone was enough to win my loyalty, but they went above and beyond by sending me a replacement mixer free of charge. Now, you won’t catch me mixing dough in anything but a KitchenAid.

One exceptional act of customer service is enough to win a customer for life. If you multiply that across your whole team, the ROI is exponential. We’ve compiled some strategies to help you delight customers with exceptional service this holiday season.

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Ways to Delight Your Customers This Holiday Season

1. Prepare for the holiday rush.

The holiday season is a crazy time. Customer stress levels are up, and their patience levels are down. Moreover, 39% of consumers have less patience today than before the pandemic, so being on top of your game is more crucial than ever.

In my experience, the most straightforward way to keep your customers happy is to make every interaction with your company positive. Customers are likely already expecting longer lines and wait times around the end of the year, so it’s never a bad thing to surprise them with the opposite.

How? Prepare for the rush.

Keep your customer service (CS) team well-staffed and make sure all customer communications are transparent and consistent. In my experience as a customer service representative and a customer, few things are more frustrating than receiving two completely different answers from two different reps.

When I worked in customer support, the holidays were my Super Bowl, and preparation made all the difference. Going into the season, I’d mentally prepare myself to provide extra patience and conscientiousness during a time when customers may be a little frazzled. I found that some extra kindness and authentic interest in solving customer issues went a long way, especially during the holiday season.

Pro Tip: ServiceHub can help you streamline your CS interactions. With a universal Conversations inbox and free CRM as a single source of truth, ServiceHub can vastly improve communications across your CS team and channels.

2. Pay attention to your social media channels.

Consumers send more messages to businesses during the holidays. According to recent research by Sprout Social, retailers can expect an average of 18% more social messages per month during 2022’s holiday season than normal months. CS teams should expect that increased volume every holiday season going forward.

If your customers are on social media, meet them where they are. That way, you can create seamless experiences for your customers and help them succeed during the holiday season.

I’m a professional bass player and member of a touring band. Keeping an eye on socials is always on my to-do list, but the holidays present an exceptional opportunity to delight fans and spread holiday cheer. Responding to DMs, expressing gratitude, and sending holiday greetings seem like little things, but I’ve found that our customers were especially delighted to feel seen and appreciated during the holidays.

Pro Tip: Consider having support reps available to help on social media. Or, if you already have dedicated social media reps, you can add more to your roster during the holiday season to ensure someone is always ready to help.

3. Offer a compelling discount.

By a compelling discount, I don’t simply mean “10% off your next order.” Instead, try a discount that will inspire your customers to continue shopping with you.

What does that look like? It depends. For starters, focus on the value your product or service provides customers, not just the price you discount it by. In other words, position yourself in a way where buying your product is a complete no-brainer.

For example, check out Dyson’s Deals page. The markdown on one of their most popular vacuums mentions how much customers can save — not a percentage off. It also includes a special gift edition offer.

holiday customer service, dyson

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Being in a band means I’m also in the ecommerce space. Every year around the holidays, usually Black Friday, I’ll run special discounts on merchandise on our online store. A percentage off T-shirts is standard, but I’ll often sweeten the deal by offering personalized messaging and VIP access at our shows with purchase.

Pro Tip: Be careful about the language you use in your promotion. According to Psychology Today, a “Get $ Off” promotion emphasizes achieving a gain, while the “Save $” wording emphasizes avoiding a loss — customers can recognize the difference.

4. Get personal.

Excellent customer service is about more than just solving your customers’ issues. Go above and beyond to personally remind your customers how grateful you are for their business and why you care.

“I’ve encouraged team members to select some of their favorite frequent flyer customers and send them thank you notes over the holiday season,” shared Ed Yealu, former Customer Support Manager at HubSpot. “Thanking them for their engagement, support, and loyalty to the product is a good albeit more direct way to delight individual customers.”

We live in a digital world, but receiving something handwritten means a lot; capitalizing on the holiday spirit in this way can build a positive brand association.

“When it comes to [this] approach, one of the biggest values I stress is personalized communication,” said Yealu. Here are some of his best practices for personalized communication with customers:

  • Use tone and language that aligns with your customer’s knowledge and experience with the product.
  • Listen to your customers and empower them. Asking customers direct questions about their preferences both personalizes the experience and builds their confidence in the product.
  • After each interaction, send follow-up messages to customers to thank them and offer further assistance if needed.
  • Recommend features and tools based on their history and business needs and always provide notated documentation.

The strategy of sending personalized notes or gifts works well because, with every exchange, customers are encouraged to become brand ambassadors.

“I’ve sent a customer a gift after having a really good support interaction with them,” shared Caroline Fernandes, Support Team Lead at HubSpot. “I would suggest this to other [customer service teams] as it shows the customer that you thought of them outside just your interaction. This can be done at any time of the year, too!”

I use this strategy often when working with fans of my band. We routinely send surprise birthday and holiday video messages to our biggest fans to thank them for their faithful support over the year. It never fails to put a smile on their faces and solidifies a loyal fan for life. Win-win!

Pro Tip: Consider tools like Sendoso, Rybbon, and Reachdesk to help manage manual customer outreach and send thoughtful customer experience touches.

5. Invest in premium packaging.

Anyone who’s spent any time wrestling with a roll of wrapping paper and tape dispenser knows the value of a pretty package.

In fact, according to a recent Dotcom Distribution packaging study, branded or gift-like packaging makes customers more excited about receiving an item, especially younger shoppers.

As a younger shopper myself (or so I’d like to think), I can attest that this is true. Premium, beautifully designed packaging is often the deciding factor in my purchase decisions. I’ll usually choose a slightly more expensive product if the packaging sparks joy compared to a cheaper alternative. Is that a wise financial choice? Perhaps not, but it is the truth for me and many others.

A recent survey found that 61% of consumers will pay at least 5% more if they know they’ll get a good customer experience. Good customer experience doesn’t just involve service. It’s about the entire customer journey, and premium packaging creates a delightful experience that makes customers feel good about spending a little more.

Pro Tip: Tailor your packaging to your product or service so it shines. Like Pad & Quill does. This tech accessories company packages its iPhone and iPad cases in paper with friendly messages printed on it. It even uses an authentic-looking Roman seal to give a more hand-wrapped feel.

holiday customer service, pad and quill

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6. Be transparent about the small print.

Refund and exchange policies, as well as additional services, are often part of the small print on your website. As busy and loud as the holiday season is, do your customers a favor and place those policies and services front and center. These policies are in place to increase trust and promote sales, right? Make them known.

When buying gifts, customers prefer a return policy that ensures the recipient can easily return the item. You have a better shot at increasing sales and keeping customers if you can offer this, especially if you offer free returns. In fact, 55% of consumers won’t even shop with a company that doesn’t offer free returns.

In high school, I worked as a retail associate at the Gap, where I became very proficient at folding clothes and gained insight into the world of customer service. One thing that made Gap special was its lenient return policy. You could return any product to Gap regardless of age or amount of wear. I swear, a customer once returned a pair of jeans from 1998 (I was there in the late aughts). Sure, some customers took advantage of the policy. Still, on the whole, I found that customers were very appreciative of the lenient return policy and gave us their undying loyalty in return.

Pro Tip: Update your website and app during the holiday season to highlight your policies and service upfront. Nordstrom does a great job of displaying all of its holiday shopping, shipping, and return perks, giving potential and existing customers peace of mind during one of the more stressful times of the year

holiday customer service, nordstrom

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7. Maintain your customer service standards.

The holiday rush can be tough on your customer service team. However, it’s still essential to uphold customer service standards — like responsiveness and accountability — during this time of year.

Of consumers, 97% say customer service interactions impact whether they stay loyal to a brand. So, the holidays are a critical time to maintain a high level of service and ensure brand loyalty.

I worked as a HubSpot Support Team member during my first few years out of college. In my experience, the holidays were busy as customers looked to square away all their HubSpot-related questions and concerns before signing off for a holiday break.

It was crunch time for our team, and our managers always impressed the importance of upholding our high level of support during such times. I found that customers truly appreciated our patience and empathetic service during the holidays when everyone scrambles to tie up loose ends before year’s end.

Pro Tip: Customer service standards give agents a set of guidelines to follow when interacting with customers. Consider updating yours for the holiday season, and feel free to refresh them regularly.

Embrace the Holiday Season

As a consumer and someone who has worked in service and retail, I find excellent customer service especially important during the holidays. The holidays are a wonderful time to relax, but can also be stressful preparing for gatherings, finding the right gifts, and managing finances. Customers will appreciate it if you can put yourself in their shoes and help make their holidays smooth and enjoyable.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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