November has arrived, which means retailers are down to the wire when it comes to planning for the busy end-of-year sales push. Many shoppers have already started their holiday shopping and soon the floodgates will open as we approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Businesses should be prepared for a spike in digital sales this year. According to Salesforce, there will be a 13 percent year-over-year increase in U.S. digital revenue growth, $136 billion in total sales, between November 1 and December 31. Globally, Salesforce expects a 15 percent increase in global online sales during the next two months.
Salesforce also predicts that we’ll see an increase in “edge of shopping” touchpoints this holiday season, over social media, voice assistants, and messaging platforms—channels that occur outside of retailer and brand properties. Today, shoppers use up to eight channels on average to engage with brands across their shopping journey.
6 Business Tips To Stay Ahead
So, are you ready for the holiday sales rush? Here are some last minute things that you can do to prepare your company for what’s ahead.
Revisit Your Call Paths
Round up your customer service team, and figure out whether your call paths are working properly, or if they should be strategically restructured. Figure out if the system is working as efficiently as it could be, or if it could be improved. Inefficient call paths can lead to abandoned calls, angry customers, and poor reviews.
Plan How Many Agents You’ll Need
Take a look at your data, and try to figure out if you have enough on-call agents, or if you need to hire more seasonal employees to answer phones and assist customers. You don’t want to be understaffed. If you have a cloud-based call center solution, it’s easy and affordable to add more seats.
Focus On Skills-based Routing
Now is also a good time to consult with your customer service managers, and form a skills-based routing plan. You’ll want to make sure the appropriate agents are answering the phones when calls start flooding in. For example, some agents may be better at greeting customers, while others will be more equipped to handle technical questions. Figure out who you’re working with, and assign the right agents to specific roles.
Do A Self-service Gut Check
Many customers will try to resolve issues on their own, using self-service portals like knowledge bases and online chatbots. These services are instrumental for providing after hours care, and extra support during busy times. Analyze your self-service options, and try to get a sense of whether they’re up to speed or if an overhaul is needed. Remember: if you’re using chatbots, you’ll want to have agents monitor them in order to intervene when necessary.
Tighten Your Cybersecurity Strategy
Consult with your IT team and make sure your website, payment systems, databases, and customer touchpoints are ready to handle the holiday rush. The holidays are one of the busiest—and costliest—times of the year for cybercrime, and the last thing you want to do is suffer a breach that will haunt you throughout 2020 and beyond.
You may also want to ask your cybersecurity team to go over best practices with call center agents. You can ask them to provide tips for identifying fraud and social engineering when communicating with customers over the phone and email.
Figure Out A Game Plan For 2020
We’re on the verge of a brand new decade. So stop and reflect on your current communications strategy, and look for areas that you could improve on in the future. Is your communications system working as hard as possible for your business? Perhaps it’s time to explore a cutting-edge VoIP, full spectrum communications solution. Or, maybe you should look for ways to enhance your network with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN).