2021 Black Friday guide: 5 CX strategies for retailers this holiday season

Black Friday (plus Cyber Monday and the many weeks before and after) will be different this holiday season. Retailers will face customers supercharged by digital centricity who are fighting product shortages, higher prices, busy schedules, and holiday craziness.

And this isn’t to say traditional brick-and-mortar shopping is dead, but brands need to be aware how to deliver a great hybrid experience of digital, physical, and everything in between. This is critical in the customer service space, where the nuance between bad and good experiences will determine whether customers return.

To prepare for another round of deals, delays, and determination here are 5 key strategies retail customer service can employ to win 2021’s Black Friday.

Strategy #1: Deploy flexible WFH staff for the holiday rush

New products, data breaches, recalls, and inclement weather are just a few examples of the good, bad, and ugly of Black Friday shopping. Along with the unpredictability of the season comes support volume surges that will test a retailer’s resources. With post-pandemic online shopping increasing and deals starting earlier and running longer, consistent quality and service levels are essential to keep operations running smoothly.

The pandemic proved that work-from-home (WFH) customer support is effective, nimble, secure, and won’t break the bank. The flexibility of service capabilities brought on by remote work enables retailers to readily deploy extra staff when needed. When volume surges or the unexpected happens, organisations can pivot and scale support capacity quickly to meet customer needs across channels.

Remote work also lets retailers dip into a wide talent pool of highly developed and highly skilled workforce that understands your brand message and values, helping to improve loyalty while meeting fluctuating demands.

Strategy #2: Support from the cloud for an optimal shopping experience

If a shopper reaches customer service during the rush of Black Friday, there is a heightened chance of delivering a poor experience. Legacy systems are often overwhelmed and there’s no integration among disparate channels.

Migrating to cloud contact centre services enables your organisation to holistically interact with customers in the channels they prefer while optimising technology, processes, and people.

A cloud contact centre system is perfect for omnichannel interactions that are the lifeblood of direct-to-consumer, subscription, and many brick-and-mortar retailers by supporting a single view of the customer. Organisations can provide a seamless customer experience within and across channels, including voice, email, chat, messaging, SMS, co-browse, and social.

Cloud solutions can also offer real-time knowledge management to provide more relevant and consistent answers that are desperately needed during the holidays. And of course, the cloud’s ability to react with speed and agility based on fluctuating volume will be key this holiday season.

Strategy #3: Combine automation & empathy

Black Friday shopping is stressful. Customers need information about products, store hours, return policies, and more, often with a tight holiday deadline and long shopping list. Associates must answer these simple but time-consuming enquiries in addition to handling more high-tier conversations around delayed orders and unsatisfied experiences. Deploying intelligent automation capabilities can free employees up for more nuanced interactions that impact brand loyalty and customer happiness.

Intelligent automation solutions will allow your workforce to improve CX and drive bottom-line results, reduce average turnaround time, complete processes and requests, eliminate human error, and help employees focus on higher quality customer interactions that require a human level of understanding and communication.

Eliminate the most time-consuming and repetitive manual tasks during the holiday season with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Robotic Desktop Automation (RDA) capabilities. Implementing RPA software “bots” across any application with minimal disruption to the organisation can help retailers save time and money, while improving customer relationships.

Strategy #4: Win the last mile with frictionless delivery

Customers want to be updated about availability and delivery dates at every point of the journey. Direct-to-consumer, subscription, and digital brick-and-mortars that can quickly reassure customers that gifts will arrive on time will, or effectively communicate changes, help them relax and enjoy the season. This is even more important this season, when we’re dealing with major supply chain issues across product categories.

Shoppers expect proactive communication from one channel to the next without being reminded who they are and what they bought. It needs to be one journey, connected across every channel from beginning to end.

Deploy asynchronous messaging to deliver real-time, personalised communications with built-in scalability, allowing customer service to more than double the number of interactions they can handle concurrently on preferred channels. This is critical for agents to keep up with product deliveries and delays that affect thousands of customers at-once during critical hours.

Strategy #5: Connect the entire journey through data analytics

Retailers can’t create seamless experiences without first knowing the level of effort that goes into each interaction. Understanding where and why different customers interact with your brand allows you to orchestrate better journeys to deliver proactive and personalised experiences and anticipate demands, to drive customer loyalty during busy shopping seasons.

Pay attention to customer feedback, sentiment, and engagement from start to finish and beyond. Convert data into insight by deploying technologies like voice of the customer and speech analytics that evaluate the customer journey at multiple touchpoints.

Speech analytics is particularly powerful because of its ability to analyse daily interactions and pain points for the customer. These insights gathered can help enhance customer journeys and further develop associates’ ability to create meaningful moments that matter for customers when good and bad experiences arrive.

Deliver meaningful experiences this holiday season

Black Friday’s fast pace and digital focus can make it unforgiving at times. That is why it matters more than ever to deliver empathetic and efficient customer service. Retail brands who provide meaningful experiences backed by people and technology will come out as the real winners this holiday season.