Retail mobile consumer holiday rush image


Though you may still be adjusting to fall weather, the retail industry knows full well that the holiday season is looming just around the corner. If you’re an online merchant, the holidays can be both a revenue dream and a customer service nightmare.

Fifty percent of Americans and 61 percent of people in the UK complete more than half or all of their Christmas shopping online, according to a 2014 survey by Econsultancy.

In fact, the proportion of American participants that completed all of their shopping online increased by six percent, while the percentage of those who did all their shopping offline decreased.

With these trends expected to continue, is your retail business prepared for daunting traffic volumes and interactions with frazzled last-minute shoppers?

Here are five ways to turn your company’s holiday stresses into festive successes:


1. Qualify customers before connecting 

First contact resolution is an increasingly important metric. According to Forrester, 45% of US consumers will abandon a transaction if their questions are not addressed quickly. Stressed shoppers may not wait on hold while they’re juggled from agent to agent, making it important to gather as much information as possible before connecting with a customer.

Greeting customers with a thorough interactive voice response menu or asking them to enter an order number can ensure they’re routed to agents with the right skills for the interaction, and helps you give customers the right answer, on the first try, every time.


2. Know who you’re talking to

Inevitably, customers that contact your company more than once may speak to different agents within your contact center, and the time a customer spends recapping previous interactions can be just as frustrating as time spent on hold.

Integrating your contact center software with your company’s underlying CRM system allows agents to review a customer’s history, including interactions with different departments, and provide their own updates—which are automatically synced across the board.

Even better, customers can be automatically identified when they initiate contact in order to route them to the agent they worked with previously. In the end, an informed, personalized interaction drives customer satisfaction and, ultimately, loyalty.


3. Provide customers with flexible options

Your contact center isn’t the only thing that’s busy during the holidays—so are your customers! While voice calls are still the leading method of contact, the digital age is changing the way customers wish to connect with your business. Beyond simply shopping online, 22 percent of American men and 18 percent of American women made purchases directly from their smartphones in 2014. Consumers are becoming increasingly mobile in both how they shop and how they interact.

Flexible options for contact, like SMS, social media and email, allow customers to reach out through the medium that makes the most sense for their situation. Enabling customers to multitask and eliminating time spent glued to the phone on hold creates a convenience that prevents customers from avoiding contact for fear of lost time.

 For customers that do want to communicate by voice, provide the option to request a callback (either when an agent is available or at a specified time) to ease the frustration of waiting.

What does your digital experience look like to your on-the-go customers?


4. Equip your agents for stellar customer service

If you’ve hired additional staff to cover peak periods, your training and onboarding processes may have been accelerated. Making additional resources available for reference during customer interactions improves agent ability and confidence, as well as first contact resolution.

For example, equipping your contact center with instant messaging and presence capabilities lets agents converse with subject matter experts to gather information or answers while still communicating with the customer they’re serving.

For a clear view of agent performance and understanding of customer behavior, incorporate regular agent monitoring (live or recorded). Along with reports on agent metrics, quality monitoring provides an excellent basis for agent feedback, training and corrective action, as well as valuable insight into business operations. 


5. Be there when your customers need you

If your experience has shown your traffic volumes increase during the holiday season, forecasting and scheduling agents based on previous years’ data is a good place to start preparing for the rush. While simply adding more agents may provide more customer with touch points, overscheduling may cost you more than it’s worth.

Properly forecasting your traffic volumes not only prevents under-scheduling – which leaves customers not-so-patiently waiting – but also prevents overscheduling and under-utilization. Ultimately, you’re creating a balance between customer satisfaction and your bottom line.

Holiday shopping also makes it increasingly important to be available beyond the typical 9-5. Self-service capabilities are designed to better suit the varying needs of your entire customer base, no matter what their schedule is like or what time zone they’re in.

Even if your resources are limited, consider the following after-hours options:

  • A 24/7 virtual assistant that can automatically answer basic questions
  • Customer access to a knowledge base or documents, guides, etc.
  • Text-to-speech technology that responds to customer account inquiries

Do these five things and you’ll be well positioned to take full advantage of the holiday shopping rush—racking up sales as well as happy customers.


What’s the next step? Rebecca Wormleighton breaks down how to respond to the new mobile consumer using practical examples from real life customer success Centrinex in an upcoming live webinar. Register today!


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