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Online businesses have one of the busiest parts of the year ahead of them.
In two days, the Black Friday craze will start. Millions of consumers will rush to score the best deals from major retailers.
In four days, we’ll see the same thing for online businesses when the Cyber Monday sales will start.
What does this mean for your company? If you offer any sales or discounts at all, you need to brace yourself for a huge increase in traffic and questions from customers.
Are you read for that? There are a few things you can still do to make the shopping craze a bit easier on your agents and your business.
Have enough agents
With increased traffic from all your sales, you will get more inquiries from customers. And you need extra people to handle all of them.
If you have different teams working different shifts, you can pull some agents from the less busy hours and have them help during the peak.
You can learn when the peak happens by looking to your analytics. Simply check when you get the most traffic, calls or chats and move agents accordingly.
If you don’t have extra agents available, consider going for the all-hands-on-deck approach and have people from different departments chip in.
They may not become pro at customer service over the course of one day, but any help you can get to answer the extra enquiries is worth it. It’s a temporary solution that will get you through the storm.
Getting people from other departments to help worked really well for Bonobos, who were caught completely off-guard by the Cyber Monday but still managed to pull through.
You can prepare a simple orientation so that people from other departments can learn the ropes of good customer service. Show them how to use your tools. Tell them what are the most typical cases and solutions to them.
Even if the won’t be able to provide a full answer, they will still be able to handle a fair share of simpler cases and make the workload more bearable.
Don’t forget about social channels
Designate a person (or more, depending on your size) responsible for monitoring and responding on your social media channels. If something goes wrong, social media may be one of the first places where customers will head to to get some answers.
The few messages or tweets you get normally can quickly turn into this:
Having a dedicated person responsible for social media will allow you to handle the easier cases immediately (usually general questions, no personal details included) and direct the customers with tougher problems to your live chat or help desk.
Limit your pro-active chats
If you’re a live chat user, you’d want as many chats as possible. This is why you create custom chat invitations to engage large numbers of website visitors.
However, when you’re facing a huge spike in traffic, it might be a good idea to limit some of your pro-active chats to avoid getting buried under too many chat requests.
Basically, you don’t want to bite more than you can chew.
For example, a greeting that starts a chat after 10-15 seconds would normally be fine. But during the Cyber Monday sales, it would start way too many conversations. Instead of getting a pro-active service, your customer would end up in a queue from an invitation that you started!
To avoid that, you have two options.
You can turn off the invitations and receive only the chats initiated by customers.
The other way is to make the invitations more precise, or even surgical. For example, you could limit them to visitors who show strong buying signals, e.g. reach certain cart value or spend a lot of time in checkout.
From a support perspective, you could offer pro-active help to users who already seen your self-service materials like knowledge base or FAQ and still can’t find their way on your website.
Prepare descriptions for your sales
While on the topic of self-service materials, you can avoid a lot of questions by preparing descriptions for your sales and discounts beforehand.
You can try to predict what kind of questions will pop up and provide an answer for them. For example, describe which discount codes can be used together.
Start with your product descriptions. All sales information should be clear and easily understandable.
If you have a knowledge base or a blog, preparing an article describing your sales and discounts will give you a ready-made resource for your agents. Instead of describing the whole sale every time a customer asks, you can simply share a link to the article.
Alternatively, you can create canned responses for your live chat or help desk that will include information on your sales.
If you decided to pull people from other departments to help with customer service, these materials will be of great help.
Keep the quality high
Even though the increased traffic could cause you some trouble, your service shouldn’t get sloppy.
Set specific KPIs (key performance indicators) you want to keep for response time, handle time and customer satisfaction.
If you’re not sure what the KPIs should be for your business, check out our Customer Service Report for 2015. In the report, you will find the information about key customer service metrics for 21 industries.
The report has been prepared using data from 8400 companies, 65 million chats and 2.5 million tickets. See what are the results for your industry and try to surpass them!
If that's not enough data for you, check out our report on the ecommerce trends during the Holiday Shopping Season for even more information about the trends and best practices you should follow.
If you manage to beat the average while keeping up with the service, you can consider yourself a Cyber Monday survivor.
Congrats and see you next year!
Photo courtesy of June Marie via Creative Commons.