Most of us will be glad to see the end to 2020. It’s been a year like nothing we’ve experienced before.
As life starts to return to something a little closer to what we would consider ‘the norm’, businesses must think about their on-going customer service strategy, in both the long and short term.
For many Brands, their customer service is still operating in business continuity mode which, for the majority, means having agents taking calls and responding to enquiries from home.
While their continuity plan may have worked for them over the summer months, is it equipped to function effectively when increased seasonal activity starts?
The holiday season
From around the end of September, businesses typically see higher contact volumes and an increased sense of urgency, with many customers shopping to specific deadlines.
Some companies see a huge and sudden spike in demand that focusses very closely on the festive period and the few weeks either side, whereas others will experience a steady ramp up as retail and ecommerce sales pick up as consumers look ahead to Christmas and the holiday season.
Either way, Brands must consider how they will cope with this extra work while operating under a partial or full business continuity model.
Collaborate with your support partners
Brands that are already outsourcing must have collaborative conversations with their partners, if they haven’t already, to prepare for the season and ensure they’re ready for the increase in call volumes. This could mean additional recruitment or a change in hours to accommodate seasonal shopping habits.
Under normal circumstances, many home-based agents work part-time or split shifts to fit work around other responsibilities. Businesses will find that offering these agents additional hours rather than hiring seasonal staff will provide a more streamlined and effective service.
Another key consideration is that consumer habits have undoubtedly changed, with more people than ever doing most of their buying online. For physical retailers, that means looking at ways to move their business into the online space while those with an existing e-commerce presence must ensure they have a customer support strategy in place to cope with an influx of sales.
Looking to 2021
And it’s not just about the short term. Looking beyond the festive season, Brands should be defining their strategy for 2021 now. There remains so much uncertainty about where things are heading that companies need to be prepared for different scenarios. Will there be another lockdown? What will that lockdown look like? Will a Coronavirus vaccine be available in the coming months?
Regardless of the answer to one or all these questions, Brands can look at 2021 as an opportunity to revisit their approach to their online customer experience. Now is the time to execute a strong work-at-home/in-centre blended model, supported by self-serve and automation tools that drive both the online and offline strategy.
It can no longer be just one step forward at a time. Brands must have the next three or four steps prepared if they want to really futureproof their online customer experience.