5. November 2020 Blog

Get your customer service ready for Black Friday

Handling Black Friday is not a piece of cake for customer service agents. If you are wondering how you can help them be well-prepared for this big day in e-commerce then you are in the right place. Read some tips on how to make the most of Black Friday and prepare your team for this crazy day.

Black Friday is a wild period of the year in e-commerce. Customers are eagerly awaiting this day for the whole year. In 2019 during Black Friday there were over 93 million online buyers. It sounds huge! 

More traffic to your online store also means a greater demand for support, i.e. customer service. On average there will be 30 minutes of additional customer service required to meet this higher demand. So how can you prepare your customer service agents for such a busy time? We have some ideas. 

Long term preparation

#1 Analyse trends and prepare for it 

Review shopping trends from previous years and what your customers have recently been interested in but not yet decided to buy. For many people, Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to buy Christmas gifts. This is one of the surest trends of this period. The most popular Christmas presents are perfumes, jewellery, books, cosmetics, games and electronics. But depending on the industry and product range, trends may differ.

Once you have analysed the products that sell best during the Black Friday period, give your customer service a chance to prepare. They should focus on those products that sell more and dig deep into all information about them. If they do not have to seek information from outside sources or ask other employees during conversations with a client, the contact will be much more efficient. 

#2 Invest in tools or software

Considering the increased traffic to your website and customer service department, you should prepare yourself for implementing the right tools. This will definitely affect the quality and speed of the service. If the core of your customer service department is the call centre, it would be very helpful for you to choose CloudTalk. This tool offers call queuing, which means that all inbound calls can be sorted based on predefined criteria. In this way, your customers will reach the right agent and be well-informed about how long it will take to hear the answers. CloudTalk also provides interactive voice response (IVR), thanks to which a client who is trying to reach the sales department won't be incorrectly connected to customer service instead, for example.

#3 Invest in training 

Once you choose new tools or software, your team should know how to use them during the work day. Organize appropriate training that will allow them to get the most benefit from your new implementations. After such training, customer service agents should have enough time to get used to the new tools and learn about them in practice. The longer team members use the new tools, the faster and more efficient their work will be. And this is exactly what you should aim for, especially on Black Friday.

Short term preparation 

#1 Organize internal training 

We mentioned above that when introducing new tools, you should train your employees to use them correctly in order to benefit fully from them. It is a similar case to an offer from your store. After analyzing the trends, you should know which products will most likely be of greater interest. If you are expanding your offer or bringing some old bestsellers back (which is probably a smart move), it is worth informing the customer service team about such changes. Training is then aimed at updating employees regarding the store's offer and individual products, especially if any aspects of a given product have changed. Customer service employees must know the entire offer inside out, because no questions can surprise them and remain unanswered.

#2 Prepare your store in every way

During a period of increased web traffic to your store, it’s not only customer service that is important. You need to check all technical aspects so that agents do not have to listen to complaints about a slow website or payment issues. These problems take up valuable time that should rather be focused on customers’ issues than technical ones. Remember that servers need to be ready for more traffic so that customers aren’t left frustrated waiting for pages to load. 

Also remember to prepare your offer in every possible way- adequate stocks in warehouses, especially of your bestsellers, is a wise solution. Take a closer look at payment methods - the more you offer, the better. But to be sure that everything will run smoothly during Black Friday, do not try to implement a new payment method at this time. It is not the best option for now, since all aspects (especially technical) should be covered to meet your customers’ needs.  

#3 Be prepared early

On Black Friday, both e-commerce and stationery shops experience a real siege. However, customers prepare for this day much earlier. Thus, your customer service team should also be ready in advance of Black Friday arriving. Analyze website traffic from previous years and create a schedule of more intensive work before the big day. Not only for call centre agents, but also employees responsible for social media and emails. It is worth being prepared for an increased number of questions related to products or various aspects of the whole ordering process.

#4 Split strategies 

Customer service agents need to be prepared for clients trying to reach them via many channels. Deloitte conducted research which found that:

  • In 2019, it was predicted that phone contact would be not such a popular way to reach customer service compared to previous years, but it still won the race (47% of contact was made via this method).
  • The Importance of chatbots was expected to rise (16%), as well as social media (9%).
  • SMS and video were forecast to grow (from 2% to 6% and from 1% to 2% year on year, respectively).

Divide customer service so that everyone knows what they are responsible for. Not only in terms of customer service departments - call centre, social media mailbox, and more - but also in terms of product categories. It is better if one group is perfectly prepared for cosmetics and others for electronics, for example. This will certainly facilitate the workflow and shorten the response time of individual agents.

Omnichannel support is no longer a new concept. To be honest, it is a must have nowadays if you want to provide your customers the best customer service and customer experience.

#5 Offer 24/7 support 

Customer support during the hot Black Friday season is extremely important. It is a short but intense period of time, so it is worth providing 24-hour support. If you do not want your agents to work at such unusual hours as through the night, you could think about implementing a chatbot. Not only do they answer questions 24/7, but they can also relieve your agents in regular working hours. During this busy time, any help can turn out to be worth its weight in gold. You may also consider hiring additional employees just for this crazy period. 

It is important to be present for your customers. It is an intensive time for sure, but is only once a year. If you make a good impression, customers will keep coming back, not only for Black Fridays but the whole year. So, all hands on deck! 

Preparation for next year

#1 Be ready to improve

The craziness of Black of Friday shopping did not start yesterday. It has been going on for a good few years now, so the e-commerce market has gained some experience. It's worth learning from your mistakes. First of all, analyze the performance of your agents. What could be improved, what shouldn't have been done, and what was missing? A very good way to keep improving is to get insights from clients. Satisfaction can be surveyed not only by purchases, but also with an after-sales service. Knowing your customers’ thoughts is the key to successive development as an e-commerce brand.

#2 Plan it in advance

There is nothing wrong with starting to get ready for this period as early as July. Black Friday is crucial for many industries, so the better prepared you will be, the more profitable Black Friday can be for your e-commerce. If you sense that you need a lot of time to get everything done, just start a few months earlier. During Black Friday, every shortcoming can cost you money, so do your best to avoid any mistakes. 

Are you ready for Black Friday?

Periods of increased traffic in e-commerce stores, such as Black Friday or the time leading up to Christmas, are big challenges for customer service agents. Preparation is the basis for meeting customer requirements and keeping your employees productive, but not overwhelmed. Thanks to implementing the above tips, you will surely rock this year’s Black Friday and even Christmas shopping season. Be sure that you have prepared for every aspect, and let the shopping begin. Fingers crossed for your customer service team!