Preparing the Contact Center for Holiday Sales

Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
As retailers gear up for holiday crowds, they shouldn't forget to invest in their contact center to ensure a great customer experience.

Everyone likes getting a good deal. However, snagging a highly reduced item doesn't mean that customers don't still expect great service and sales shouldn't be used as an excuse by retailers to deliver less than optimal customer service.

Retailers have been gearing up for months for one of the busiest shopping days of the year--Black Friday. Many have increased their staffing levels, invested in advertising, and made sure that they have enough stock to cater for increased demand.
However, things don't always go as planned and it's inevitable that some customers will need to contact the organization either to get information, return an item, or voice their grievances, says David Baker, Vice President of sales and business development at Servion Global Solutions. Baker stresses that it's essential for companies to prepare their contact center for an expected increase in traffic. He shares these three tips:

  1. Offer callbacks during busy periods: While customers will understand that a company might be busy, they don't want to wait for a long time to speak with an agent. Baker suggests both telling customers how long they will be on hold and also offering them the option of being called back when the contact center is less busy. He encourages organizations to go a step further, and allow customers to choose a time period during which they would like to be called back and even select a different number.
  2. Properly train temporary agents: Many organizations will employ temporary staff in a bid to reduce wait times for customers. But Baker warns that unless properly trained, temporary agents can be detrimental to an organization. This includes agents who are unable to properly answer a customer's questions or do not reflect the company's philosophy, for example to think outside the box to help customers. Baker stresses that temporary agents need to undergo rigorous training to make sure they're helping rather than hindering the organization.
  3. Invest in robust technology: Customers calling a contact center don't want to waste time being transferred from one agent to another. By investing in a good IVR system, organizations can filter calls and direct them to the right agent the first time around. Baker also recommends investing in Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) which recognizes the customer and gives information about him to the agent, allowing for a more personalized experience.