As retailers enter what for many is the busiest quarter of the year, how much will peak activity times impact longer-term relationships with the customer? Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching, 27th and 30th November respectively. Whilst Black Friday heralded the kick-off to the Christmas shopping season, as far back as the ‘60’s, Cyber Monday started life in 2005 to entice online retailers to provide special web-based offers.
Images of physical altercations between shoppers fighting over bargains in the 2014 sales will remain etched in many people’s minds, as a negative consequence of compacting deals into one short period, ahead of the busy festive season. This year, the challenges for retailers and customer retention will be more about how to ensure your multi-channel platforms are prepared and will consistently offer the same levels of customer service, no matter how big the spike in activity.
The delays and issues following Cyber Monday 2014, memorable for non-delivery of orders along with incorrect items delivered when they did happen, will be a challenge again to customer service teams in 2015.
This year could arguably be considered the one of true multi-channel customer support, due to the growth in self-service functionality, web-chats and social media platform use. Providing consistency of response across all platforms has been the challenge for many companies, and the peak period at this time of year will be no exception.
Bad customer experiences can stop a customer from returning, no matter how brand loyal they may have been in the past. Customers will also mercilessly expect to see the same levels of service as normal, even during peak periods.
It’s not enough to simply add staff to a help desk, but to train and equip them with the right tools and information to cope with what is, after all for many, the most challenging period in customer service.
Online sales continue to climb overall but it’s crucial during these extra busy periods to ensure that the contact centre is staffed adequately and team members have the most efficient tools and information at hand at all times.
Advanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems that ensure customer details, including delivery and response times, are available seamlessly are important. Ensuring self-service channels are also made available with the most up-to-date information can make a considerable difference to customer satisfaction and retention. Manning and managing social media channels will also be more important than ever before as customers continue to post negative reviews more readily following a bad experience. Being able to respond efficiently and with knowledge of the issue, the customer needs and their journey, as well as offering human understanding and empathy will be key.