Is Your Customer Service Prepared for the Holiday Peak? - Sitel - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
Being prepared for the holiday peak provides not only great customer experience but also creates brand loyalty throughout the following year
We all know that November and December is the time for heavy holiday shopping. Yet, each year the festive shopping season seems to challenge marketers and customer care managers anew. A huge short-term workforce needs to be hired, trained and equipped in order to efficiently master the six-to-eight weeks of intensified customer interaction. Germany, for example, noted a retail volume of 85.5 billion Euros in 2014, and is expecting an increase for the 2015 holiday season – which is not at least a result of extremely low oil prices freeing cash to be spent elsewhere. Thus, customer service teams should be prepared for a strong and work-intensive holiday season in 2015.
Apart from these statistics, the increased demand for customer service during the holidays always requires a strategic coordination between management, HR, training and operations teams. Here some fey factors for ensuring outstanding customer experiences in the holiday peak season:
- Facilitate Omni-channel communication
- The customer is on the move – facilitate online shopping
- Focus on Forecasting – what we do see in our crystal ball?
- Tackle Recruitment & training
- Realize Operational Efficiencies & Cost Savings
Facilitate Omni-Channel communication as…
In modern customer communication, most brands have not only accepted 24/7/365 customer care but also understand that customers wish to interact on multiple and increasingly mobile channels, as they are always on the move. Hence it is not only important to reduce call wait times as much as possible – it is all about serving ubiquitous customer needs via the preferred customer channels i. e. to include social media.
Our customers are on the move…
It is thus no longer about another form of transactions – it is about delivering a seamless customer experience across all channels – especially all mobile channels.
Particularly, as the number of mobile devices has increased substantially. In 2015, already 12% of all German holiday sales were processed online, with other markets showing similar trends with a rising tendency. Customers increasingly expect service offers to be accessible via mobile devices, such as tablets and mobile phones. Be ready to update your website and offer help wherever you notice when customers get lost. Live Sales Chat works particularly well here delivering the lowest cost of acquisition as well as excellent customer satisfaction. It can be effective for things such as helping you minimize volume spikes, supporting customers 24/7/365, shopping cart abandonment, and assist in sales conversion.
Forecasting – reading the crystal ball
Contact centers thrive on efficiency. As a result, develop very accurate forecasting systems. A good contact center team can help a business see the correlation between its expected sales and the resources needed for the customer service to meet these figures. This is important, as the most efficient solutions for workforce and shift management have to be covered. But contact centers not only know how to align sales expectations and workforce in theory, but are very practically experienced in facilitating a smooth ramp-up and down process ensuring resources are available where they are needed. This of course includes also when less agents need to be on duty making forecasting also an efficient one.
Recruitment & Training
Whether the business is seeking new contact center hires, Work@Home agents or part time agents – all staff members need to be hired, trained and motivated to be ready on time. Agents should be comprehensively briefed to the required service level and also have the respective customer insights to help meet customer expectations. Agents should be aware that best-in-class customer service eases the pain of the consumer, while providing simple and quick solutions rather than compensation gifts for late arrivals or other errors. The perfect holiday preparation therefore also depends on the timely workforce recruiting and onboarding. That is why customer care managers start this process in summer, as experience shows that the training phase takes about a month. And, last but not least, the team structure is another key factor: professional contact centers mix the teams from newcomers and experienced agents to provide stability.
Efficiency and cost-saving without compromising quality
Besides a well-trained base of agents, technology plays a crucial role in achieving the perfect customer experience. In contrast to many clients, for which the investment in technology presents a significant challenge, contact centers command a variety of technological solutions. These tools provide insights gathered by contact center vendors, which enable a product and service forecast for the target market based on experience and historical data. Basing on this data, resources can be properly planned but also issues on service or products can easily be identified and addressed quickly, leading to fewer complaint calls, which frees team capacity for other customers.
Contact Centers do the job
That is why customer service professionals who rely on outsourcing experts are often better off than their colleagues who attempt to manage seasonal ramps on their own. Moreover, trusting a professional outsourcing vendor such as Sitel, with 30 years of business experience, not only saves time- and cost-consuming hiring procedures, but also provides established communication channels and experienced agents. Yet, customer service does not have to be outsourced entirely. Where experienced but rather small customer service teams exist, contact centers can complement the in-house base and support during overflow times or during business hours not staffed for within the in-house contact center. Thus, the availability of customer service is easily extended.
It has become clear that the holiday shopping season is a very crucial is time of the year to build or harm customer loyalty. During these few weeks at the end of the year, properly prepared and professionally implanted customer experience management secures loyalty that pays off in the following 12 months and beyond.
Publish Date: December 8, 2015 5:00 AM
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