4 tips to deliver customer excellence on Black Friday
Black Friday 2016 is coming. Over £1.1bn was spent online on Black Friday 2015, and whilst the public hysteria we saw in 2014 was not repeated, there is clearly a large demand for the event from UK consumers, with many retailers last year reporting sales lifts in excess of 223% versus a typical day.
4 tips to help deliver customer excellence on Black Friday
We’re going to assume at this point that you’re a retailer or eCommerce operator. We’re also going to assume that you’re in some way participating in Black Friday 2016, by offering discounts or a sales event. We’re also going to assume that by now, you have plans in place for Black Friday weekend, so we’re going to list a few tips you may not have considered.
1. Scale your customer service team
OK so we’re pretty sure this one is obvious. You’re probably expecting more site visits, more sales, and therefore more customer contacts. So it makes sense to add bodies to your customer service team, either in house, or via an outsourced contact centre provider. But, how are you allocating the extra resource? Have you looked at the data from 2015 and scaled the team in the areas required as shown in the data? For example, 78% of consumers will cancel a transaction due to poor customer service. On Black Friday, where time is critical, you can’t afford for longer than average wait times for calls, or longer than average response times to social media posts. If anything, service levels should improve on Black Friday, in order to build confidence in the brand and therefore create long term customer loyalty.
2. Work closely with marketing teams
The chances are that your marketing teams have been working on Black Friday plans for several months. By now, they’re probably sure on what offers will be posted, which products will be promoted, and which shipping services and times will be used. Make sure your customer service team is aware of this detail. You may well find an increase in product related queries from customers. Make sure your customer service team is prepared for questions regarding those products being promoted. If possible, give your team the top 20% of products to take home and test to make sure they know the product well, and can offer advice. If that’s not possible, have those products on display in the contact centre, so that agents can refer to the product in close detail when speaking to a customer.
3. Communicate shipping and returns policies clearly and honestly
With order volumes set to increase, we’re also assuming you’ve scaled your warehouse team accordingly. Depending on the volumes you’ve forecast, you may be extending your typical shipping policies. If that is the case, communicate those new policies to the customer on calls, on emails, and via social media. Don’t just rely on the customers to read the shipping policies on your website. The same applies to returns policies. Depending on your product range, you may well experience a far larger returns volume following Black Friday. Ensure you retain some of the temporary agents you’ve employed or continue to work with your outsourcer to provide coverage for higher contact volumes in this period. Again, communicate the returns policy and refund timescales to the customer when they order. This should reduce contacts when returns do happen. Finally, if demand is far higher than expected, and the business is unable to meet its service promise, communicate that to the customer, so that they’re aware of the delay, and the reasons why in advance of them being effected.
4. Invest in customer loyalty
Whilst Black Friday is largely a price driven event, don’t underestimate the potential to build long term customer loyalty from first time shoppers. Savvy customers may well use price comparison sites or Google Shopping to compare prices on certain items, and your offer may well entice a customer to shop with you for the first time. Make sure you compare the lifetime value of each customer acquired on Black Friday with that of a typical first time customer. You’ll know what the average timeline is between first and second purchase at your store, ensure you track those same metrics on customers acquired over Black Friday. For those customers who have not reordered in the typical timeline, one option is to gain some valuable insight into the reasons why and prompt a further purchase, using a customer retention service such as ENGAGE, by Spark Response.