One of the biggest and best sales events of the year is fast approaching – EOFY sales. And with the seasonal peak in customer enquiries expected, retailers hoping to deepen loyalty and improve sales should turn their attention to delivering great customer experience (CX). Why? Because one in two Australians will spend more for a good online experience, and two-thirds for good customer service, according to Zendesk data.

With just a matter of weeks to go before the big day, it’s not about working harder – it’s about working smarter. Retailers that take the time to reflect on their performance in previous peak sales periods and prioritise understanding customer’s needs today can use actionable insights to help them prepare for the sales spike – without having to start from scratch.

Here are three tips to build on the foundation you already have in place:

1. Draw on insights to improve the experience

There is no doubt that delivering exceptional CX starts with understanding customer behaviour. Drawing on data and insights will not only help businesses understand your customers generally, it will help you identify things like customer pain points and potential issues.

Use the breadth of data you already have at hand to identify patterns and pre-empt customer needs before they are even aware of them themselves. For example, to prepare for the upcoming sales period try drawing on insights from the Christmas rush to identify common queries and create help centre articles to address them and promote self-service. This gives agents more time for higher value tasks and more complex queries.

In addition, use your customer feedback to implement change. For instance, if you have received regular and consistent feedback around your returns policy, now is the perfect time to amend the policy ahead of the peak period and say goodbye to a customer pain point.

2. Be proactive with your customer service

Proactive customer service — which is about getting in front of a customer before they reach out for support — can help build customer trust and long-term relationships.

Think about it in the terms of a brick-and-mortar store, where a team member makes a sale by proactively engaging with a customer. They walk up to the customer and ask if they need help, ask questions to understand their needs and offer products they think will fit the bill. This approach can transcend into e-commerce, where agents can build a personal connection with customers by offering proactive service.

So, how is it possible to provide proactive customer service online during the busiest periods like EOFY sales? This is where automation comes into play. Leverage a set of tools to automate workflows or tasks for CX teams, including artificial intelligence, chatbot and automatic emails, so you can reach out to customers before they reach out to you.

We like attention — it’s human nature. That’s why reaching out to customers proactively on channels like live-chat is generally well-received. In fact, 92% of chats receive a positive CSAT score. And when customers are happy, they’re more likely to make a purchase with your brand.

A simple example is setting a time-sensitive chatbot that pops up to offer help if a customer has been on a particular page for some time. Taking it a step more advanced, the chatbot can offer up the latest promotions, or better yet, throw up product suggestions based on the customer’s purchase history. Ultimately, not only does proactive customer service make it easier for the customer, but it also helps minimise the volume of incoming queries for your support team and reduces the chance of website and cart abandonment.

3. Prioritise customer engagement

A good customer experience is set on a foundation that first and foremost focuses on the needs of the customer. When it comes to a peak sales period, prioritise an engagement strategy that is developed with an understanding of what customers want from a brand and where you should meet them.

Customers want to engage with businesses in a way that is convenient, and they want fast, efficient responses. They want to have the same kind of conversational, natural interactions they have in their personal lives and increasingly want companies to meet them where they are – which is why we’ve seen dramatic increases across messaging channels like WhatsApp and even Instagram for support. If you haven’t already, consider implementing these channels to suit your customers’ preferences and engage with them on a channel they are already using.

Leveraging learnings from previous peak sales periods and understanding current customer trends is key to success over the EOFY sales period. With these steps combined, you can reap the benefits of not only increasing sales – but also building long-term customer loyalty by providing customers with the standout experiences they are looking for during the sales rush.

Malcolm Koh is customer experience strategist for Asia Pacific at Zendesk.