SalesTech Star

Handling Customer Service On Black Friday

By Lee Cottle, Director, General Manager Europe, Playvox

Since it arrived from America, Black Friday has rapidly become a staple of the business world. Customers expect to find new and exciting offers while retailers aim to capitalise on the day to boost revenues. As the purchases stack up, so do the list of potential enquiries and issues. A list your customer service team will need to be ready to handle.

Spending on the big day this year is projected to reach £9.42 billion over the entire weekend. A sizeable outlay in the run-up to Christmas, so how are customer service professionals preparing for the rise in queries?

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The background

With so much sales activity concentrated on one day, or month, some retailers can make up to 40% of their annual revenue this November. So there is no surprise that a Shopify survey shows ‘Customer service needs’ as e-commerce retailers’ second-highest concern for this time of the year.

Not only can a positive customer service experience help secure a sale immediately, but a Dimensional Research survey reveals that good customer service also results in 52% of customers making future purchases from the company.

With these facts in mind, it is time to examine your current customer service efforts and see what you may like to change ahead of the big day.

Over the past two years customer contact channels have shifted towards online options. With the arrival of live chat, social media, and email customer expectations have grown with a need for instant gratification.

So, as orders rise, these channels will see an influx of activity from people expecting a fast response time.

The key to meeting these expectations is a well-designed platform, combined with skilled customer service professionals.

How teams can scale up or down?

Teams are required to scale for multiple reasons. Last year we saw many businesses needing to scale back their brick-and-mortar stores while scaling up their online activities due to lockdowns. Likewise, with some people still wary of the high street many retailers will face the need to focus attention on their online channels this Black Friday.

British women’s activewear retailer Sweaty Betty went through this change last year with a growth in the customer service team from 12 to 150 to manage an entirely digital world.

Utilising the Playvox platform, a fresh approach to customer service was a viable option. Empowering team leaders at the company with a powerful coaching, learning and quality review function ensuring agent skills matched the necessary levels. Instant access to success metrics and customer feedback fed into a collaborative, qualitative tool for feedback sessions. Implementing this platform at a time of significant growth resulted in a 20% increase in first-contact resolution and a 50% reduction in training time. Two vital statistics in times of intense pressure from rising incoming customer contact.

The period at which Sweaty Betty underwent this change was a time with a sudden and significant upturn in customer service needs. Both on the part of customers and also in the role that agents play. It could be compared to Black Friday in terms of its scope. Indeed, there are lessons to take ahead of the Friday sales to help you prepare your own agents.

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How does the industry adapt for the day?

Before any steps towards improvement can be made you need to look inwards. How are you measuring customer satisfaction? Are your agents sufficiently trained to handle a variety of enquiries? Do feedback sessions result in growth or stagnation? The route towards a streamlined system tends to start from your current state.

Once you think you understand where you are starting from it is time to learn from past holiday events. Here are a few common occurrences during Black Friday sales:

  • Phone traffic often falls while live chat traffic rises
  • During sale periods questions on specific products need faster response times to avoid losing a sale once the period ends
  • Returns also rise following sales, prepare a standardised Q&A page to handle this and help ease demand on your agents

With the big day already so close, here are a few ideas to help your customer service professionals get through the demanding period:

  • Create a bank of answers for the most common questions, cutting time spent with each customer.
  • Remain professional – Especially if using social media for customer service which is public, allow agents regular breaks to maintain the correct demeanour.
  • Try and reply within a set time – No one likes to be kept waiting, and as mentioned previously time-sensitive deals could be lost

Above all else, learn from this year’s Black Friday to instantly begin preparing for the Christmas period and new year sales which will soon follow. Using specialised customer service team software can go a long way to solve a myriad of problems, some of which you are not even aware of.

The fourth quarter of any year is vitally important for a company’s annual income, don’t lose out because your customer service approach is letting down the rest of the business.

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