November 21, 2017 | By

Is Your CX Team Ready for the Holiday Season?

So here we are again. The holidays are right around the corner and with that means a massive surge in online shopping – especially during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and of course those last minute shoppers that get their gifts with just enough time to meet shipping deadlines. Are you ready?

Every year we hear stories about the must-have toys or too good to be true deals that break the internet. With so many deals – and competitors jockeying for business – customers who experience even the smallest errors or delays in getting what they need will quickly go elsewhere.

Here are a few tips to help ensure your support teams are ready for the rush:

Plan for the Extreme

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are unlike any other time of the year. An estimated 108 million consumers shopped online during Black Friday in 2016, making up a significant portion of some stores’ sales for the entire year. However, that’s really just the beginning. Throughout the holiday season, customer service teams need to be ready to handle a record setting number of customer engagements and provide a consistently delightful experience across all their communication channels. Agents need to be trained on how to react even in the worst conditions (think: site crashing) to keep their customers happy and away from competitors.

Scale Up Support

With the extreme number of customers expected to shop this weekend and beyond, support requests and general questions will far outpace normal benchmarks. Deloitte anticipated half of all holiday shopping would occur online in 2016, with the trend expected to grow in 2017. Each query will need a response as fast as possible to ensure a sale. Even the most prepared support team may need to consider hiring more staff during the holiday season to keep up with the demand.

The advantage of hiring more staff is clear, but the real benefit comes in how you allocate those new found resources. By focusing temporary or new staff on general questions and easy tasks, and shifting experienced support teams to more critical and difficult issues, you can resolve resource-intensive tickets without the need for escalation or multiple steps. The shift to faster resolution makes it more likely that customers will buy, and preserves the mental energy of your most experienced staff.

Run Drills

As they say, practice makes perfect – and this is no different. The holiday season is like the Super Bowl or World Cup for retailers – and teams need to prepare. The holidays may call for a deviation from the norm, including how support teams should manage the spike in engagements, work with their new colleagues, etc. To get teams ready, run drills ahead of the busiest days (and continue them through the holidays), evaluate individual performances, and survey the teams to find gaps in the plan before it causes your customers a headache. Even if you miss the chance to run drills before Black Friday, practicing afterward can help teams better cope with the continued holiday rush.

Automate Where You Can

By the time Black Friday hits, you will be under siege with customer questions and possibly complaints. If you run an exclusively manual process, this crush is likely to overwhelm even a scaled-up support system. Leveraging automation technologies during the holiday season can help offload some of the more frequently asked, repetitive questions that often plague a service team. Today’s AI is intelligent, contextual, can understand intent, and communicate in natural language. Offering self-service options to customers helps to ensure they are getting quick answers and support agents are freed up to handle more complex or high-value questions.

With the kick-off to the holiday season right around the corner, brands need to put their best foot forward – not only to ensure strong seasonal sales, but also to create loyal customers who will shop with you again and again, year after year. Here’s to a record setting (and smooth) year for everyone!

For more tips on how to succeed this holiday season, download our eBook, 5 Ways to Boost Your Bottom Line.

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