Why getting customer service ready for Black Friday is even more important in 2022
We’re heading into the busiest time of the year for many sectors, especially retail. With Black Friday coming up on the 25th of November, there’s still time for adjustments and improvements to customer service plans.
While pandemic lockdowns are no longer a factor this year, new factors will come into play that will impact consumer behaviour. Customer service will need to adapt to these four key trends if they want to stay ahead of the game
1. Inflation and its impact
Everyone is feeling the impact of higher prices, particularly around energy. Which, of course, means people are inclined to spend less and search for ways to make savings. However, they will still demand good service including fast answers to their queries.
On the organisational side, tough economic conditions will mean businesses will be looking for ways to be operate more efficiently. This is particularly true when it comes to customer service. Here are two ways to increase cost savings, without impacting the customer experience:
- Maximise the deflection of incoming queries to lower cost channels such as chatbots, web and telephone self-service. Now is the time to finetune these channels and ensure information in your underlying knowledge base is up to date, ready for Black Friday.
- Embrace automation, such as by automating call wrap-ups or security/verification processes. This gives agents more time to talk to customers, increasing their productivity.
2. Consumers will be shopping earlier
Many consumers were looking forward to enjoying a post-COVID Christmas, but the cost-of-living crisis and geopolitical worries, as well as continuing supply chain issues are likely to have changed that.
This uncertainty makes predicting customer behaviour harder than ever, especially around when customers are likely to do their shopping. However, many experts believe people will start buying earlier to give them time to identify and bag the best bargains. So, most retailers will be gearing up to roll out promotions sooner than in previous years, placing even more focus on Black Friday. Customer service teams must therefore be ready, with all their processes tested and optimised, well before the 25th of November.
3. Staffing will be an issue
Traditionally many companies take on additional staff at peak times, especially in customer service. But current shortages of people available to work might make recruitment harder than usual this year. Plus, some companies may be wary of taking on too many temporary workers as they try to rein in spending.
All of this means that companies will need to be more focused than ever on increasing productivity by giving agents the systems and support they need to answer more calls successfully, bringing down interaction times.
This also includes supporting agent wellbeing. Customers are likely to be feeling stressed and worried. This will make them more impatient, and more demanding, meaning you need to look after your agents. For instance, real-time speech analytics can be used to automatically analyse calls so that supervisors can be alerted when agents need them to intervene. Similarly, a simple tactic such as providing an internal chat facility can give agents a space to share concerns and let off steam with their colleagues.
Companies can also mobilise internal resources by supporting people in the back office and other departments to step in and help by giving them additional training and access to customer service knowledge, as well as collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams. This will provide additional capacity and help meet customer needs cost-effectively.
4. The channel mix will continue to be complex
COVID-19 dramatically impacted consumer behaviour and accelerated the shift to shopping on digital channels. Even if many customers return to physical shops this year, the channel mix will continue to be complex. People will want to be able to shop in store, order online and have products delivered to their doorsteps as well using click and collect or other delivery options.
Retailers therefore must take an omnichannel approach, supported by joined up customer service across every channel. Agents therefore need to have a full view of this more complex customer journey to meet customer needs.
Christmas 2022 is going to be one of the most unpredictable festive seasons in many years for retailers. To ensure they can thrive, whatever happens, customer service teams need to be prepared, with people, processes and systems all lined up and ready to go, earlier than ever. With the clock ticking down to Black Friday, now is the time to check everything is in place so you are ready for the Christmas rush.