We’re currently right in the middle of the busy run-up to Christmas, and just about every retailer and consumer brand out there is no doubt feeling the heat. With a seasonal surge in sales comes an increase in foot and web traffic, stock shortages, and – of course – customer service queries.
According to software company JDA, almost one in three Britons (31 per cent) encountered order fulfillment problems when shopping online over Christmas 2014. That’s a lot of unhappy customers potentially coming to contact centres for reassurance and resolution, and it only covers a small subset of the assorted customer service issues that might be raised over the festive season.
If you’re a contact centre professional, your job is to ensure that your brand delivers a better customer experience than the competition at this critical time of year. Perhaps you’ve made some temporary hires for this purpose, or incentivised your agents to put in 110 per cent and add some Christmas cheer to their calls. But do you really know what your customers want?
Here are a few of the things we think might be on their wishlist.
- Quick problem resolution
People tend to have a lot on their to-do lists over the festive season. Christmas shopping, visiting friends and family, juggling work and social commitments – we could go on. The last thing they want to do is spend more time seeking customer service than is strictly necessary – first contact resolution is ideal, because every follow-up call is another chunk of the day gone for good.
In order to deliver this level of speed from your contact centre, you’re going to need the right contextual information to understand your customers’ problems right away, as well as the ability to solve their problems through whichever channel is the best fit for their individual circumstances.
- Mobile customer service
This includes mobile. The Christmas period is busy, and ten minutes of downtime between other commitments may be the only chance a person gets to seek customer care. A traditional call with an agent might not be the most convenient option in these circumstances, so it’s useful if the contact centre offers a self-service app and mobile web chat, too.
- Self-service options
Following on from the above: if your customers can’t commit to lengthy calls during regular contact centre hours, the strength and versatility of your self-service offering is critically important. The more complex the problems it can solve, the better – and remember that not everybody will want to access it in the same way. The web, mobile, SMS and social media are just a few of the channels in which your customers may seek self-service functionality.
- True omni-channel capability
If a person does need to speak to an agent or switch to another channel to solve a more complex problem, the capacity to deliver true omni-channel customer service is a must. When time is precious, people want their interactions with a brand to be seamless – they don’t want to repeat the same information when they cross channels or receive the wrong support because an agent wasn’t fully informed of their circumstances.
With mobile and self-service customer care rapidly gaining in popularity, Christmas is definitely a time that’ll put your omni-channel capability to the test.
- A contact centre that copes with traffic
The Christmas rush can be a scary time for contact centres for the simple reason of increased traffic. Much as retailers have to accommodate more foot traffic over the festive season, so too do contact centres need to ensure they have the capacity to cope with spikes in the number of customer service queries.
This is actually one of the key arguments in favour of switching from an on-premise to cloud-based contact centre solution. Cloud capacity can be scaled up and down on-demand, making it much more adaptable to seasonal shifts in traffic than legacy infrastructure.
Moreover, it’s often easier to deliver true omni-channel capability from a cloud contact centre, making it possible to resolve customer problems more quickly and simply – and with fewer resources – than ever before.
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