The preferred shopping date of many customers is almost there. It’s a day when each customer suddenly turns into a morning person and rushes to add products to their shopping basket.
For businesses, it’s a revenue boost, an opportunity to move inventory, and end the year with a BOOM.
BUT, we’ve heard it before: it’s easier said than done.
Unfortunately, this date also comes with its challenges and pressures, especially when handling a surge in customer care tickets. Don’t forget that: 80% of customers who encounter a bad customer experience would rather do business with a competitor. You might want to avoid that, right?
We know this time of the year can be demanding for you, so we’re created a checklist to get you ready for battle (aka any peak season)
1. Keep your customers happy – and follow your CS mission statement
A clear mission statement for your customer support team can inspire and motivate them while keeping them from losing sight of why their work matters to customers.
We must admit, that’s a hard one…
Today’s customers are in a hurry, which is why you should try to accommodate, as much as possible, their needs. Prepare your team for the rush they will soon face, because if you want to retain a customer, you should make sure that he/she, has THE best experience out there.
Part of providing a fantastic experience is having a quick response time – the other part is simply being respectful and courteous to all customers.
As such you may want to ensure that you have the right customer support team available when your customers are active (24/7?) and that your team follows a meaningful mission statement.
In case you’re struggling with being available 24/7 for your customers, please keep in mind that we can support you with teams mastering 80+ languages.
2. Avoid customer confusion and nail your self-service customer support
Want to leverage self-service to balance your cost-to-serve and efficiency?
Make sure your return policies are clear
Make sure your return policies are CLEAR. A concise and clear return policy gives consumers a feeling of security. This might also reduce the number of customer questions and make you save some time.
Make sure your open hours and availabilities for contact are clearly pointed out
Make sure to clearly point out your open hours and availabilities for contact and avoid confusion when a customer gets no answer back.
Don’t forget to inform your customers about any potential delays in response that they may face during that busy weekend. Better play it safe.
Make sure to update your FAQ page and improve self-service
You can also avoid unnecessary waste of time by updating your FAQ page and improving self-service. Instead of customers sending you an email and getting frustrated because they are not receiving the answer straight away, stay clear of a customer’s frown by adding all potential questions and answers to the FAQ section.
You can also link your FAQ page from the order confirmation emails, shipping update emails, and the contact page of your website.
3. Make your team’s life a bit easier
Equip your team with pre-made templates of replies
Doing so will allow them to maintain your helpful service with minimal upfront effort, especially when it comes to:
- A customer’s package or product getting lost or delayed
- A customer wants the status of the order
- A customer is unsatisfied with the purchase and wants to return it
- A customer is unsatisfied with the purchase and wants to edit it
- A customer had a change of heart and wants to cancel the order
- A customer’s package or product arrived damaged
Make your Knowledge Base easily accessible and up-to-date
On top of having those handy drafted responses, make sure that your Knowledge Base is easily accessible and up to date with all Black Friday/Holiday Sales information that customers or agents might search for. You can’t even imagine how much time a strong knowledge base can save in addition to ensuring quality self-support!
Invest in training
Investing in training could also be a great idea. If you choose to use new tools or software to be more efficient, you should teach your team to use them before the rush weekend. Do so before the D-day of course, because the longer your team members use the tools, the faster they will get.
4. Embrace automation – But do it the right way
When it comes to automation, keep in mind your main objectives:
- Reduce average handling time for your agents (including back-office tasks)
- Increase customers’ satisfaction
With these two objectives in mind, and keeping in mind a simple Pareto rule (80% of tickets relating to 20% of issues) a large number of tasks can be automated.
Master your triage process
You may want to come up with a prioritization system to treat customer support tickets, based on recency, urgency or any specific topic to be redirected to an expert team.
When your incoming support queue is large it can be confusing as to how to go about treating different customer tickets. Here come workflows and automation to the rescue! Using an AI solution will let you see volumes and trends enabling you to triage effectively. For example, you could filter out a high-volume topic, such as payment questions, and attribute it to a designated agent trained to handle those. Or attribute questions related to bugs or crashes with the website to your relevant team. It’s that easy!
We’ve got several solutions to boost your performance on written channels (such as machine translation tools, RPA services for emails…). In case you’re interested in reducing the time spent on your inbox 😉
Consider using a chatbot
What about integrating a chatbot into your website? What if they could easily re-direct a customer to what they are looking for? When it’s done right, self-service customer experience (CX) can give customers exactly what they need, when they need it. Problems can be resolved quickly and simply, enhancing customer satisfaction, and driving down waiting times.
Yes, chatbots can save you and your customer support team a lot of time and stress during the rush season, but it still has many flaws. Chatbots are not human, they do not understand all types of questions. I admit, it might be a little embarrassing (it’s a no-judge space so keep your opinion to yourself), but I’ve already gotten really mad and in a heated conversation with a chatbot for not understanding my question no matter how I phrased it. That’s why (and it’s not based on my personal opinion) chatbots should be used for simple and specific queries, such as giving out shipping information or referring to the appropriate product page.
One of the most effective ways to use chatbots is also to collect as much structured information as possible about consumers’ issues (order number, type of question, etc.) to make it easier for your agents to handle them and route these tickets to the right team at the right time. That’s one of the most efficient ways to increase your first contact resolution rate.
If it’s your first time implementing a chatbot, you should try figuring out how many support agents you need to keep the response time under 90s (to keep your customer satisfied and conversion rate high of course).
Back office tasks – the real deal?
It is estimated that 60% of the total time spent by a customer service advisor relates to back office tasks (excluding direct interactions with customers). These can include updating status or customer data, sending reminder or thank you emails, etc.
Don’t focus only on automating the conversational part, those few simple but repeated tasks might present the biggest automation opportunities!
5. Size your CS team for the challenge
Who goes into battle without analyzing the situation first and reacting accordingly? Apply that same concept before Black Friday: use recent data and make assumptions on the number of hours, days, or even languages you’ll need to cover. By doing so you can determine the number of agents you’ll require. Please avoid overworking them.
Unhappy employees = unhappy customers.
To avoid drowning in customer support requests during Black Friday or any other peak season, especially since it has such a huge impact on your business’s top line, you could also consider outsourcing. We don’t want to scare you, but you can expect your customer requests to grow by 65% during that week. A support agent can handle 80 tickets a day on average.
The more agents you have, the more efficient you are, the happier the customer, and the higher the NPS. It’s simple math.
You can also use Black Friday as the perfect occasion to set up a ‘CS’ day in your company and get all your teams on deck to respond to your consumers (from product to sales, to tech…). A good way to reinforce the cohesion between your teams and to remind everyone that the customer is at the centre of everything!
6. Feedback and data are a gift: collect them!
Christmas is only a ‘bell’ away, so get ready. Or even any other peak season
One way to fuel your Black Friday sales is to collect customer feedback which would allow you to identify any customer friction in their customer journey. While we do recommend you do that all year round, now is the perfect time to start. Analysing customer feedback should allow you to keep your customer experience up to par with expectations.
We also recommend you to track your performance during those peaks and brace yourself for upcoming events such as the Christmas season. The challenges you’ll face and the way you solved them will help in the future, allowing you to become even more efficient.
Review past shopping patterns and items that your consumers have recently shown interest in but haven’t yet opted to purchase. Black Friday is a great time for many individuals to purchase Christmas presents: Black Friday is the perfect time to analyze which items sell the most and give the customer service team a chance to prepare for the upcoming holidays. It is much more efficient if they know everything about these products before the peak re-occurs.
We’ve got a dedicated team of customer experience consultants and data analysts who could run a quick audit of your customer journey as well as a root-cause analysis of your customer service and map out the right strategy for improvement. Our dedicated team of consultants can support you all the way, from journey mapping & sales funnel analysis to solutions’ implementation.
7. All for one and one for all: in other words, be there for your team!
Think about rewarding your team members for their hard work during this peak period and once the rush settles down , because after Black Friday comes the Christmas period (which can be a bit more painful ?). From special treats (e.g. massage sessions during the most intense days, breakfasts or team snacks…) to performance-related rewards during these few days…
8. Get ready for massive traffic on your website. Avoid any crashes, please
We’ve heard that some retailers already faced a website crash during Black Friday because of high traffic. Lucky them? We’re not so sure… Did you know that anything above a 3-second website load increases the bounce rate probability by 40%?
9. Plan B, Plan C, Plan D… Create contingency plans in case it all goes wrong
Better prepare now than during the midst of the sales weekend, don’t you think?
Start preparing for the worst. Do you have proper backups if all sides of your business go awry? For example, what happens if the shipping company you are partnering with becomes too busy? Or if your inventory gets stuck in the warehouse? How quickly can you adjust to that? How quickly can customers know they’ll have to wait a bit longer without angering them?
We don’t want to stress you out, but only help you prepare for tough situations. Map out all possible worst-case scenarios and get ready to face them head-on.
10. Make sure you never run out of stock. Or if you do, try to avoid bounce rates
There is nothing worse than spotting an amazing product online or in the store window only to find it’s out of stock. Anyone would feel frustrated… I know some in our office (including me) would be.
It’s not only about frustrating customers, or maybe even losing their trust, but it’s also of course about losing revenue.
That’s why you should keep a close eye on your inventory and prepare it for the upcoming weeks. You could already draft some messages to warn consumers when a product they want to purchase is out of stock. And you might even want to think about automatizing that message if you want to be more efficient.
We know some logistical issues can still arise along the way, but you can already start optimizing your customer’s journey by even redirecting them to similar products when one is out of stock. You could also add a ‘let me know when you’re available’ button on a landing page allowing a customer to get in contact with you again once the rush of Black Friday settles down (think of adding some incentive to retain a customer such as a coupon).
There might be a few other points to that checklist, but we’ve certainly covered some of the most important ones.
We know this list might be a bit overwhelming, but don’t forget that we can help you manage those peaks. The Nest supports startups teams tailor-made customer support solutions which can include:
- A multi-lingual (80+ languages, available 24/7) and omnichannel customer support
- Complaint management
- Crisis management
- Customer Retention and loyalty services
- Community management
- … (we offer waaaay more ?)
We offer you the ability to quickly scale your operations (up or down) and brace for the surge.
Maximize your sales for this Black Friday / Christmas Season / Sales Season and offer your customers THE best possible experience, answering all their questions or issues 24/7 and in any language?
We’ll put your customers in the hands of experts that have already experienced all kinds of customer peaks. We’ll adapt to your way of working, your channels, your customers, and most importantly, we’ll adapt to your tone of voice and culture.
Not to brag, but we’ve helped so many other organizations who faced or will be facing the same peak season, so we know how it goes, and we’ll support you all the way. In case you want to see it for yourself click here.
Trust us with your customer journey and focus on your core business with a clear mind, we’ve got this covered.