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4 Steps to Improve Customer Agent Workflow Efficiency During Shopping Spikes and Busy Periods

How to seamlessly provide both customers and agents with the right experience during unexpected busy periods and shopping surges. A Quick Checklist for Meeting Expected and Unexpected Surges in Customer Support.

With the number of digital buyers growing every year, it is important that businesses can maintain a great customer experience (CX) where customers continue to feel valued and understood.

To ensure your business is prepared for peak purchasing times, spikes in after-sale queries, and customer service requests, discover four best practices for how customer service teams can respond to minimise customer and agent disruption.

Explore this insightful article to learn:

  • How to achieve positive CX that promotes customer loyalty, helps businesses attract new customers, and encourages brand advocacy.
  • Tactics that can improve customer agent workflow efficiency beforehand, during, and after peak shopping periods.
  • How to motivate customer agent teams and boost morale during stressful times.
  • Benchmarking metrics to ensure your business is prepared for shopping spikes the following year.

Content Summary

Introduction
Step 1: Anticipate your customers’ needs & provide transparent, accessible information.
Step 2: Empower your agents with the right tools and technology to offer excellent support.
Step 3: Measure your performance to come back stronger next season.
Step 4: Ensure your agents are happy & motivated.

Introduction

With online shopping reaching new heights, every year brings new sales milestones. All evidence suggests that this year might be no different in shattering norms.

While you prepare for record-breaking sales, make sure to also brace yourself for returns, after-sales queries, and increased customer service requests.

Here are four steps you can take for happier agents and more satisfied customers — even at the peak of this eventful time.

Step 1: Anticipate your customers’ needs & provide transparent, accessible information.

Why is this important? Customers remember an overall positive customer experience. When you start helping your customers even before they purchase your product, you reduce the number of customer service queries for your team and prevent frustration for your customers.

Furthermore, competent technology and digitalfirst initiatives are fast proving to be valuable in gaining customer loyalty and trust.

75% of B2B and B2C buyers agreed they would be more likely to repurchase from a brand if the after-sales care is in their native language.

How to build a proactive, customer-centric approach

  • Make frictionless omnichannel shopping available for your customers to purchase where they see and learn about your product.
  • Prepare for online purchases by providing your customers with creative experiences (like online clothes fittings, furniture placements, etc.) via an app or website.
  • Make options like buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup at physical stores availabe to your customers.
  • Make product reviews and other information easily discoverable so your customers can research thoroughly before buying.
  • Provide self-service tools (e.g., knowledge bases, help desks) that address possible roadblocks customers might encounter.
  • Address your customers’ questions in readily accessible FAQ sections.
  • Know your customers and make sure they don’t have to repeat information when they reach out to you.
  • Use chat to direct customers to the right resources for immediate help and connect them to a live agent if necessary.
  • Provide FAQ sections and customer service in your customers’ native language.
  • Keep your website and customer portal up to date with information like order notifications, shipping speed, and other updates.
  • Ensure that checkout and payments are secure and fast.

Step 2: Empower your agents with the right tools and technology to offer excellent support.

Why is this important? Many of the steps above to ensure happy customers are easier said than done. It’s crucial that your agents have the means to give your customers what they’re looking for. Most importantly, you want your agents to spend time catering to customers’ needs and solving problems instead of figuring out how to navigate complicated technology or running into frequent technical issues.

Some tools your agents could use

  • Help your agents know your customers well with a fully integrated CRM which lets them track all the conversations and records of customers in one place.
  • Use AI to optimize and automate some customer service functions so that your agents can be productive and focus on more immediate requirements. Some options are intelligent call routing, live chatbot, personalization, new agent onboarding, etc.
  • Use a shared email alias to keep track of tickets and to carefully delegate customer queries to the right agents.
  • Update your saved replies and email templates so your agents can immediately answer commonly asked questions.
  • Set up workflows and filters to isolate basic questions that non-agent members of your team can help with.
  • Use an intuitive AI-powered machine translation platform like Unbabel so your agents can focus on their product expertise when helping customers — not on their language or technology skills.

Step 3: Measure your performance to come back stronger next season.

Why is this important? Every year brings new trends and learnings that we can apply to streamline & make processes more efficient. Studying customer behavior and your own performance can help you serve them even better in the future. It’s also important to break down your metrics by agent, language, channel, and/or location to dig deeper into what’s working and what’s not. Gather customer feedback from a variety of channels including social media and make sure to take them into consideration when planning for the future.

90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as essential or very important when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less.

  • Customer effort score (CES)
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
  • Net promoter score (NPS)
  • Average first response time (FRT)
  • Average handle time (AHT)
  • Average waiting time (AWT)
  • Tickets responded to per hour
  • Average agent onboarding time
  • First contact resolution rate (FCR)
  • Headcount variation
  • Cost per contact

Step 4: Ensure your agents are happy & motivated.

Why is this important? Your agents are also humans, and the pressure of dealing with customers and their time-sensitive needs could get to them. When you give them care and appreciation, it motivates them to serve your customers better. The last two years have also shown us that customers are looking closely at how companies treat their employees. Happy employees and greater employee well-being could translate into customer loyalty.

81% of customers who use online chat or live support for communicating with a company. But only 52% of customer service teams use online chat or live support.

  • Look at the previous years’ demand before forecasting new agent hires and the optimum schedule.
  • Factor in your agents’ capacity and make room for some flexibility when finalizing the schedule.
  • Prepare for potential agent turnover and address all possible causes.
  • Implement processes and provide resources to prevent agent attrition.
  • Offer mental health sessions to prevent your agents from feeling overwhelmed by angry or upset customers.
  • Look for technology that can automate a variety of administrative and other routine tasks so your agents can focus on providing excellent customer support.
  • Create appreciation and reward programs to keep your employees motivated.
  • Provide your agents comprehensive training and sufficient time to absorb all the information.
  • Provide your agents training to handle frustrated or aggressive customers with empathy.
  • Equip your agents with the resources they need to treat setbacks as opportunities. For example, returns are chances for upsell or cross-sell.

Tags: Shopping Spikes, Shopping Surges, Customer Experience, CX, Customer Service, Agent Efficiency

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