Here’s a sad (but true) story: The dog days of summer are almost at an end. As customers and clientele begin to re-emerge from their sun-soaked vacations, and step firmly back into reality and back-to-school or back-to-work shopping, contact centers in the retail industry and beyond will no doubt see a sharp influx in customer inquiries, emails, messages, and phone calls. Their volume will rise on every channel, and callers will be expecting exquisite and timely customer service regardless of the demands of the busy season. And, too, the numbers don’t lie: Last year, Black Friday yielded over $6 billion online, with Cyber Monday surpassing that number at $7.8 billion. (To say that customers are active during these shopping days is a gross understatement.) As we mentioned in a recent article, “calls to businesses rose more than 375% over the past two holiday seasons.” Continue reading
Category Archives: Retail
Retail is transforming at an increasing rate, and more than ever. Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are changing interactions between customers and brands and are allowing many of these processes to become automated. However, despite these rapid changes, many customers still prefer interacting with an actual person, whether it’s in store with a floor representative, or on the phone with a call center agent.
But how do we educate ourselves on current customer service practices when the rate of change is near impossible to keep up with? Well, podcasts are a great way for managers and retailers to keep up with the latest trends and strategies in the service vertical. Here are a few suggestions of customer service podcasts we love, and you will, too. They present the latest in customer service research in clear and comprehensive ways, and provide guidance on how to apply this research to improve the experience for your consumers.
Back in May, a Canadian company — Fido Solutions, which is owned by Rogers Communications Inc. — took steps to charge a small fee for its customer support services at its call centers. Yes: A service that used to be provided for free when customers paid their monthly bill just became billable. The new service fee, which costs $10, charged customers for simply calling in to make a payment, update contact information or payment method, or reset a voicemail password.
The decision to turn this unpaid service into a premium one was seen largely as a cost-saving measure, and as a way to improve customer service at call centers when overflow was occurring during peak periods. With most of those services available online, the company believed that it was easier to make small changes to customer accounts online as opposed to calling in to speak to an agent to handle them.
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 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!)
Contact center managers are, at their core, problem-solvers. One of the most challenging problems they often face is dealing with unpredictable spikes in call volume. Sometimes the causes of call spikes are understood, even anticipated. Yet, in many cases, these periods of peak call volume come as a real shock to everyone in the contact center. For example, a marketing event promoting a product sale would be an easy predictor for an influx in calls, whereas an unexpected power outage or sudden bout of the flu in the contact center isn’t something that can be readily planned for. Or is it?
Customer service is often not seen as the effective marketing tool that it is. It’s no surprise: on the surface, the two departments and their goals seem distinct from one another: Marketing is all about customer acquisition (or, attracting new customers), while customer service is all about customer retention.
And yet, limiting customer service’s definition to that superficial definition ignores a big part of its potential. If you scratch beneath the surface, it becomes apparent that these two seemingly separate functions have significant overlap. The bottom line is this: Providing excellent customer service isn’t just a matter of answering customer’s questions and solving their problems. It should also be a key part of an organization’s marketing strategy.
As Miele evangelists know, the company stands for two important things: Quality and customers. So, it is fitting that its customer service reflects this, too. The brand, its products, and its thoughtful engagement with customers and employees remain difficult to match in an increasingly competitive marketplace (both instore and online). As I sat down with Miele Canada’s VP of Customer Service & Operations, Eric Esguerra, it became clear that the company’s strides in innovation come from the long-standing mission articulated by its founders: “Success is only possible in the long term if one is totally and utterly convinced of the quality of one’s products.” This, too, applies to the quality of its customer service. Joined in conversation by CSPN’s VP of Business and Customer Service Strategy, Jessica Cryer, and Dolly Konzelmann, CSPN’s President and CEO, it was also revealed how Miele and its partnership with CSPN created a unique and unmatchable program which both optimized customer service operations, and transformed the Miele Canada employee experience forever.
It’s not often that you get to hear exceptional and positive customer service accounts, so today we bring you five that will shock you – but in the best of ways. With each one of these encounters, one can see how brands can foster and forge loyalty with their customers. The individuals in the following stories were so moved by their experiences that they felt compelled to share them with the vast digital world, and of course with their family and friends. And now we are compelled to share them with you, too.
It seems like, every month, Apple is coming out with a new product or service for its customers to take advantage of, a gadget or a gizmo to “improve” their lives. A steady stream of people visit Apple stores to view, purchase, or try out some of its convenient gadgets hands-on. If you’ve ever walked through a mall where an Apple Store is present, you’ve seen the phenomenon: A mass of people congregating within its glass walls, standing at the product kiosks, handling items with interests and speaking with customer service professionals about the latest and greatest in Apple technology. When you have hundreds of people walking through the doors at any time, one can only imagine the demand on its customer service professionals.
Common practice in a retail environment dictates that you use a customer’s name, greet them at the first available opportunity, and smile whenever possible. But in an environment like an Apple store — where you could have up to 10 customers at any given time — there’s more to consider. We went onsite to investigate their customer service practices and to see how they respond to such high-volume demands every day of the week.
Here at Fonolo, we understand the many issues call centers face in regards to staffing, spikes, hold times, call abandonment, and more. That is why we’ve tasked ourselves to research the best solutions to deal with these problems head-on. While nothing can beat call-backs in improving your call center experience for both customers and agents, we are happy to announce the findings from our years of research.
You might already be thinking you know the answer:
Internet of Things?
What is it?
From furry to feathery, and everything in between, they are here to take your animal farm of a call center to the next level. Our latest report will show you how, now.