Shopping during Peak Period has to be one of the most stressful experiences - it’s a chaotic time for both shoppers and retailers alike. The lack of clear refund policies, trawling the internet for customer support and having a mini meltdown when you realise that jumper you wanted is sold out. Nightmare. As the summer just about starts to get into full swing, I’m guessing the festive season isn’t exactly the first thing on your mind? Yet, for retailers, technical preparations - to ensure a period of smooth and seamless service - have been in place since the beginning of the year. Stakes are high during peak trading. It is a time when retailers can make impressive gains, but only with watertight and aligned planning across the entire business.
For retailers, the peak season including events such as Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and of course the Christmas shopping period, not only marks the busiest sales time during which highest revenue is generated, but also, the period in which customer service teams experience peak volume. According to xSellco, during the Christmas season, retail customer care teams can expect up to a 101% increase in product queries, noticeably incoming through social channels.
Volume at peak is daunting for customer service operations, yet, with the right social care approach in place, it’s manageable. Retailers shouldn’t fear the social influx that will come their way. It’s inevitable! As the old saying goes, grip the bull by the horns and take control. Get your customer service operations prepped and planned in advance to reap the rewards of frictionless customer care at peak.
What about them? Fundamentally, their expectations do not change. Consumers still want you to deliver the same consistent, clean and fast service in responding to their queries and questions. The most foreseeable change during peak will be the increase in social buzz around the latest, must-have ‘hot products’ and their availability! When it comes to executing customer service during peak retail season, manage expectations and deliver accordingly! Encourage customer care agents to keep their cool amid the social influx by consistently working through incoming volumes in an organised way, such as making use of Conversocial’s PLAY mode feature, to increase workflow efficiencies.
Ensure you have a fully prepped customer service team with access to real-time stock visibility. Don’t let panic set in amongst your customer care team if an issue arises. Your agents should be able to confidently adapt their own responses during crisis for an impressive customer experience in line with your brand values, in order to give the customer a reliable, coherent and helpful service even at times of stress.
Have a watch to see how Conversocial client, Sainsbury's Argos, succesfully manage customer expectations on social:
Why your Social Channels are Important
It’s simple. Social gives speed, convenience and transparency. It enables you to provide in-channel resolution across multiple levels and is a powerful customer care tool for efficiently managing your customer’s queries and questions. Most importantly, it is a domain for personal 1-2-1 engagement which your brand needs to shine at if it is to lead the pack for stellar customer service. Infosys found that 59% of consumers are more likely to shop with a retail brand that offers a personalised customer experience and 78% of consumers indicated they would only engage with a brand that offers a personalised service. The stats speak for themselves. Mastering social customer service will position your brand ahead of the pack during the peak retail season which will only positively resonate with your customers.
“Brands that can respond within 2 hours have a higher propensity for consumers to spend more - for example, 20% more on food delivery.” Joe Rice, Twitter
Invest in infrastructure, like Conversocial which allows you to scale your social operations. This way, your agents won’t be overwhelmed by incoming volumes and are much more likely to deliver personal and meaningful responses. If you are struggling to scale volumes, welcome messages, clipboard answers and quick replies to acknowledge your customers query will give you a longer window in which to deal with the customer’s message.
The digital social sphere is constantly buzzing with tweets, Facebook messages and Instagram posts which increase in volume around peak as consumers try to seek the quickest, real-time pathway for resolution. Conversocial found that incoming volumes on Twitter can increase on average by 29% during this time. Effectively managing your social channels is key to your customer care ratings flying through the roof at peak and should be the first step for achieving customer service operations as your customers increasingly turn to social channels for help.
Social vs. Legacy
Consumers are beginning to realise that social gives a direct, if not more efficient service than a traditional legacy pathway. As a brand, you need to align your customer service operations with this shift and be able to efficiently manage your incoming social volumes to please your customers. The Institute of Customer Service reports that 25% of social users have actively chosen social media platforms to voice a complaint over the past 3 months. The correlation is clear. The digital transformation means consumers are already online, using social, mobile devices for everyday activities like shopping. In fact, sales made on smartphones in 2016 were up 47% year-on-year. The most effortless way to reach out to a brand therefore, will be through the device that is being browsed on - most commonly, a smartphone for instance. With one tweet from a mobile device, you as the consumer have reached out to a brand in the most convenient and cost-effective way as possible. All you have to do is sit back and wait for the brand to come back to you. In the age of the customer, the consumer wants an effortless and complete customer experience through a channel of their choice. As brand, it is up to you to meet this demand.
Don’t shy away!
Getting a great customer service rating doesn’t happen by being passive. Be proactive, just like Argos, to enhance the customer experience during the retail peak trading period. Successfully managed social channels will grow your positive brand awareness and image. Proactively utilising your social insight and reaching out to your customers, rather than sitting back and waiting for them to shout at you, will only have one effect - increase your positive brand sentiment and create brand advocacy. Ensure back-end operations are watertight and leave little room for customer service pitfalls. With platforms such as Conversocial, you have the ability to spot the problem as it builds. Resolution on social can present the opportunity to turn a customer around despite potential service shortcomings and complaints. During the peak period in particular, efficient monitoring and proactive engagement with customers can prevent a social disaster which can completely tarnish your brand.