Tag: holiday season

28 Nov 2017

It’s Officially the Holidays! Are You Ready to Support the Retail Madness?

On Black Friday alone, shoppers spent about $5 billion online, and these numbers skyrocketed on Cyber Monday, with consumers spending about $6.6 billion online. The holidays are in full swing, meaning crazy deals and even crazier shopper expectations — and retailers must ensure their websites are equipped with the right technologies and resources to handle the chaos now and throughout the holiday season.

Here are the three biggest customer experience issues retailers might run into this December — and tips for how they can use artificial intelligence technologies to get ahead of these challenges to ensure they’re spreading holiday cheer, not leaving their customers with a grinch-like experience.

Don’t leave customers in the cold — Providing consistent support across every touchpoint

Today’s shoppers are engaging with retailers across a variety of touchpoints — from browsing a mobile app to seeing the newest products on Instagram to actually trying out items in-store. Therefore, brands must ensure they’re implementing the right tools that make support accessible and consistent across every touchpoint.

Take, for example, a shopper who completed a purchase through a retailer’s mobile application. A couple of days later, she might come across a Facebook post displaying the product she bought, prompting her to go looking for an update on the status of her order — and forcing her to rummage through email or log back into her account on the mobile app.  AI-driven chatbots on the Facebook platform can instead, access the customer history and provide the most up-to-date alert on the shipment and expected arrival date. This removes the need to flip between different channels, therefore mitigating customer frustration and making for a happy holiday shopping experience.

Don’t let the chaos take control — Ensuring support processes are efficient

One of the biggest issues customers face during the holidays is difficulty in getting answers to questions. Whether they want more information about a specific product or upcoming promotion, finding the answers to these simple, yet important questions can be a frustrating task. And waiting on hold for a representative can make customers feel like their issues don’t matter to a brand.

Chatbot technology solves this major issue, especially during the holidays where retailers face a high volume of questions from shoppers. With a knowledge base of information on retailer policies, products and promotions, as well as natural language processing capabilities that help them understand the context of almost any customer situation, bots create a strong channel for customers to self-serve and find fast answers to their quick questions.

Don’t forget to create a connection — Personalization is the best present

There’s nothing worse than feeling unappreciated. The holiday season is all about being grateful and spreading cheer. This is why it’s important that retailers create connections with the shoppers, who are the lifeblood of their business.

Personalization is a term that is often thrown around in the retail space today, but it’s so much more than just offering recommendations on products to buy. To create a truly tailored shopping experience, retailers must ensure they have the right technologies in place to really get to know each customer and their preferences. Using this detailed information will allow them to provide a tailored engagement every time they come to a brand’s website or connect with one of their CX team members. Take for example, a customer who always pays extra for expedited shipping on their orders. Should something go wrong with a specific package and they speak with a customer service representative, the agent can understand this preference (and the customer’s loyalty to the brand) and improve the situation by offering free expedited shipping on their next five orders.

This holiday season, retailers won’t wow customers by just providing killer deals and discounts — the key to success — even beyond the holidays — will be in creating a strong customer experience by recognizing shopper needs and providing the right tools to keep shoppers happy and loyal.

05 Dec 2016
travel site call center busy for the holidays

7 Killer Tips for your Travel Site and Call Center to Navigate the Busy Holiday Season with Ease

The holiday season has this uncanny tendency of creeping up on us, leaving holiday shoppers scrambling to make last minute emergency provisions. As a consumer, you can always take care of the problem by ordering last minute gifts on Amazon and “poof,” problem solved. But as a service provider, the results of inadequately planning for the busiest time of the year can be financially disastrous.

According to Zendesk’s 2014 Benchmark report, customer service rankings dropped to their lowest during the holiday season, with the travel industry experiencing the largest -7 point drop, the most drastic in comparison to all other industries.

The impact of poor customer service on your travel site:

How does poor customer service impact customers? According to an American Express survey, 78% of customers have simply bailed on a transaction due to a poor customer service experience, and 59% of customers would be willing to switch brands just to receive better customer service. With the insane amount of travel competition out there, you definitely don’t want to risk losing a dissatisfied customer due to improper planning.

So how can customer support centers within the travel industry better plan for the 2016 holiday season?

The practical guide:

The following tips will ensure this year’s holiday call center costs and handle times sink to an all-time low, while customer satisfaction ratings soar to an all new high:

1. Plan ahead of time.

Analyze data from past peak travel seasons, so you can best estimate how many support handling agents you’ll need. You’ll want to pay careful attention to numbers such as: incoming cases, average replies per resolve, average time required to reach a resolution and tickets resolved within just a single customer support interaction.

You’ll also want to analyze which destinations were most popular, and which types of vacations required the most support, so that you can hire and train your reps accordingly. Certain destinations will require advanced training and resources, due to the high level of detail involved in the planning. For example: ski destinations require lift tickets, equipment, lessons etc. High adventure destination vacations also tend to require additional support due to the addition of: local flights, scheduling of day tours and treks, and booking of equipment and car rentals.
Analyzing and reviewing these crucial pieces of data in advance, will enable you to better anticipate call center requirements and provide customers with a quality experience.

2. Make sure you’re technically equipped.

The constant surge in tickets and inquiries can overwhelm your network and cause your system to crash – if inadequately planned for. Once you’ve reviewed last year’s numbers and have a decent estimation of this year’s incoming traffic, you’ll want to consult your IT provider and make sure your system is equipped to handle the anticipated increase in users. You’ll also want to order any additional office equipment required, such as: desktop computers, headsets, jacks and chairs.

3. Integrate a qualitative automated customer self-service solution.

According to research conducted by Forrester, 72% of customers prefer to find the answers to their inquiries themselves, rather than contacting customer support. Investing in a high quality customer support self-service solution has been proven to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty due to the self-empowerment it provides the customer with, to instantly locate the answer he seeks. It also has the added benefit of reducing your customer support team’s workload and improving the call center’s average handle times. If that’s not enough to convince you, well then there’s the average correspondence fee of $.10 per inquiry! Now there’s a win-win situation for everyone.

4. Make sure to assign the right agents to the right cases.

The more familiar an agent is with a particular destination or detail of the trip, i.e. flights, hotels, car rentals etc., the quicker he can handle the query. Make sure you’ve assessed your various agents’ areas of expertise, and be sure to forward customer travel queries to the agent who is best equipped to handle them. Doing so will save time, as well as improve the quality of your customer’s service experience. If you’re hiring extra personnel for the holiday season, be sure to forward the simpler issues to them, saving the complex ones for your better trained year ‘round staff.

5. Maintain a fun and enjoyable working environment.

Employees perform best under optimal work conditions. As a manager, you’ll want to make sure to provide them. While your agents may need to work long and grueling shifts, there’s no reason why the call center environment can’t be a cheery and exciting one. Make sure to provide all sorts of holiday perks to keep your agents happy, and working at maximum output. Invest in some basic holiday decorations, munchies and drinks. Be sure to build in joint coffee breaks for socializing, as well as rewards for achieving optimal ticket handle times, thus raising your employees’ motivation and morale.

6. Train your customer service reps to deal with difficult customers.

A difficult client calls up to complain. No suite upgrades available in their hotel of choice? That’s ok, teach your agents to soothe the customer’s ruffled feathers by acknowledging their distress and then offering a hotel of comparable standards, that does have a suite. No room left on the exact flight requested? Have your customer representatives identify with your customer’s complaint. Then reassure the caller that they’re doing the best they can, and offer them a selection of other comparable viable options. Remind your agents not to let disgruntled callers affect the quality of service they provide.

7. Provide Multi-Channel (or Better yet, Omni-channel) Support.

Each customer has their own individual preference for their preferred channel of support, when dealing with a particular issue. It’s important to be able to meet your customers wherever they’re at, be it: Twitter, Facebook, Gmail or more. You’ll want to ensure your company has a properly staffed presence across all the major channels, as well as some of the minor ones. To save time and resources, we recommend using an omni-channel customer service solution that can provide quick and instant automated responses across multiple channels.
General travel inquiries, such as popular daytime activities, dining, and tour guide recommendations tend to go through the major social channels, and the majority will receive an instant and accurate automated response via your customer service solution. This will free up your agents for some of the more complicated inquiries that tend to come in via phone and email, such as flights bookings, car rental and accommodation issues.

The importance of planning for and ensuring a quality customer service experience can be summed up in the age-old retail adage: “Customers remember the service they received a lot longer than they remember the price.” So don’t leave your planning for the last minute. Make sure the customer service experience you provide your customers with is truly a memorable one, and for only the right reasons.