eCommerce Shopping Season: The Happiest Time of the Year?
As most customer service agents can testify, the happiest time of the year can be also be quite stressful. In a well-run eCommerce organisation, online orders ideally go from the customer’s cart to their doorstep without any incidences. Regardless of the volume of service interactions, increasing capacity of human or bot agents is a temporary solution. The root of the problem is the increasing complexity of service interactions and that consumers continuously expect more from online retailers.
Service is led by emotions, which run high during peak moments. We have researched for solutions to prepare your customer service for the peak shopping seasons all year round. But first, the challenges, then the tips.
The Peak Season Shopping Challenges in Customer Service
1. Last Minute Rush
Let’s start with the most obvious one: the sheer busyness of business of last minute shoppers. Even if your website and shopping scripts can handle 10x the number of customers, your customer service infrastructure may be unable to deal with blowbacks, questions, and returns; especially if a large part of that backend relies on human labor. And what to do with your opening times. An increase in interactions means longer opening times? More customers mean more interactions.
2. Multi-Channel Approach
Each channel has a varying customer interaction. Perhaps customers chase their orders via your chatbot, get instructions on WhatsApp, and search for help on your website. Not knowing what each channel does best – and setting goals and expectations that match – will slow both your agents and your performance. Customers will use multiple channels to reach out to you. How do you tackle all these interactions? And do you know when customers expect a response when using a specific channel?
3. Longer Response Times
If capacity hits a limit, just one more query can have a disproportionate effect on the entire queue – a “straw that broke the camel’s back” effect. As more customers are kept on hold, drop-off or call back frustrated for the same query that was not resolved on a different channel, expect more turbulence if your system doesn’t have a way of dealing with this. It is therefore imperative to look for customer service software that prevents queues and can handle the pressure. Longer waiting times means frustrated customers
4. Inconsistency and Unreliability
If the answer to a service issue has limited availability (for example, it’s in the head of one expert of another customer service agent!), two problems arise. First, capacity gets skewed as customers “queue” for the subject expert or resource. Second, overall quality of service suffers since some customers will receive better resolutions than others. That’s a problem when your customer service should be consistent, reliable and without queues. Sharing knowledge is key here and should be easy.
5. Siloed Departments
We all know that we should work more together, as one team. But be honest - are you working together, or are there still silos keeping information at a bottle neck? If the teams are organised into “email requests” and “requests by phone,” knowledge can’t flow freely between the 'silos,' and different channels won’t have access to the same information. This makes collaboration complex, meaning customer experience is dependent on the channel of choice. Working together? Say, what now?
Solutions for Customer Service During Peak Shopping Season
Ok, from challenges to solutions. There are multiple ways to tackle the above mentioned points: integration, automation, self-serve options, and, not to forget: learning from past experiences, which means connecting the data where it matters most: between sources, applications, employees, and customers.
Here are three solutions that will help you to prepare for high shopping season:
1. Integrating Channels for Better Customer Journeys
Given customer service is fundamentally about customers – not technology – your service infrastructure needs to work flawlessly across channels, whether they’re typing into a chatbot window, sending a text, or asking a question via WhatsApp. All relevant information is collected together and available to everyone who needs it.
So, keep the customer journey flowing. Bring different channels together in one general inbox. That is how you make sure customer service issues are being dealt with in the quickest and best way possible. Every time a conversation can continue when the customer jumps channels, every time you can point to an existing FAQ from a WhatsApp message, it means a faster resolution. For customers, it just feels like you really care.
2. Automate to Increase Capacity
All customers' issues are different but no query is unique; especially during eCommerce peak season when there are larger volume of complaints. If the same query is taking a considerable amount of time to get to the solution pathway yet is always the same resolution, it’s worth looking for a way to automate it and make it easier. Here is why:
Resolution pathways can easily be automated with a chatbot or dynamic FAQ.
Increased capacity for your agents to attend to more complex work.
Every minute you can put back into an agent’s day saves you money – and increases your capacity in peak season.
Ultimately, you are available 24/7, and questions can be solved immediately. The magic ingredients for peak season to make customers happy!
Tip: Integrate your current customer service software to get the most out of your data or build an AI-Chatbot to automate conversations.
3. Interdepartmental Collaboration
Remember the silos we discussed? Departments working on their own without knowing what other people are doing? That is why you should bring Service, Sales & Marketing together and break those silos down. You can take advantage of up-sell and cross-sell opportunities by communicating with each other and ensuring that information can flow easily between departments. It is all about teamwork!
Tips how to get started:
Look for software solutions that let you easily collaborate internally and externally
Set mutually agreed goals and metrics - focusing on the customer
Make clear what roles entail and understand how you impact each other
Integrate customer service software with marketing infrastructure
4. Look Back, Because History Repeats Itself
Learning from experience is always a good thing. But it’s beneficial during the peak shopping season. Every service interaction explains how customers are feeling or experiencing your brand.
When you’ve got connected data across channels, you can look back to past years and see where failures could be neutralised. Perhaps you made every customer happy, but it cost you dearly in human resources. Perhaps you noticed queries of type A go down at busy times, but queries of type B go up massively. This will tell you where to focus your efforts to streamline your team for the busiest quarter.
Tip: Remember to analyse previous years’ data to help you prepare for peak season.
Go For Smooth-Flowing Customer Service All Year Round
Many customer service software solutions are out there – but ask yourself this: do they put your customer service agents and customers first?
At CM.com, we help customer service teams to communicate and collaborate across all channels with customers and other parties. I'm talking about all the true heroes who work in customer service. You deserve a solution that puts you all on top of the mountain to have a better overview and collaborate easily. So your customers and you are happy!
So, go for the best software solutions to make the most of every minute. Bring different channels, departments, customers, and agents together in one solution with CM.com.
That is how your customer service is ready for shopping season! And of course, the whole year round. 😉 Good luck!
Intrigued? Please reach out to us today.