While Black Friday and Cyber Monday may seem a long ways off, smart retail contact center and call center leaders are already planning for the variety of challenges this period poses. In 2018, Black Friday pulled in $6.2 billion in online sales and Cyber Monday saw $7.8 billion in sales (both record highs). Given these numbers, it’s unsurprising that calls to businesses rose more than 375% over the past two holiday seasons. While this unbelievable sales flood is a boon for a retailer’s bottom line, it can be a painful time both for customers seeking assistance and those in charge of retail contact centers.
It might seem tempting to neglect the customer experience in favor of the “just get it done” mentality that stems from such a drastic increase in call volume, it’s important that your call center aims to please during the busiest sales periods of the year. After all, this is how customer relationships are made or broken.
So, how can call centers to improve customer interactions during the most important weekend of the year? Look no further … we have you covered! In this tip sheet, you’ll read about four of the most important ways you can get your call center into gear with specific action items. (Download the full tip sheet here!)
- Optimize your Self-Service Channels
Digital-savvy customers don’t want to waste time and energy calling agents when their answers can just as easily be found using self-service. Employing self-service options for classic customer interactions like order updates and tracking status will remove an unnecessary burden on agents, while at the same time keeping customers happy.
- Get Forecasting Right
One of the most important issues call centers will face this upcoming season is scheduling their staff. During the holiday season, call centers in the retail industry typically have the biggest total staff on board, as well as new staff joining their teams. In 2016, Radial hired 20,000 seasonal workers for its call center customer service and freight fulfillment – three times that of its permanent staffing numbers.
- Offer a Call-Back
According to an Accenture study, consumers’ top two complaints were: a) having to contact customer service multiple times; and b) being kept on hold for too long. Customers hate waiting on hold – there’s no nuances here. Subsequently, agents start the transaction at a disadvantage with a less-than pleased customer. It’s a lose-lose situation.
- Don’t Neglect Training
As mentioned, many call centers hire additional temporary staff to deal with call spikes. Omaha Steaks, for example, hired an additional 2,900 seasonal call center agents. Even the highest-quality agents will need training and time to get up-to-speed and to effectively handle their work during peak times.
A call center’s number of customer interactions increases dramatically post-Thanksgiving and, because of this, so too does the importance of those interactions. Offering a good experience in the face of increased demand isn’t impossible: It’s a task as great as the season itself, but manageable with a sound plan that can adjust to all the twists and turns this time of year is known for.
Learn how to get holiday-ready with this tip sheet, which you can download below.