Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and winter holidays are coming! It’s official; you are entering the 2020 holiday season. Businesses don’t want to lose sales or brand reputation during the holiday season. If you’re actively engaging in workforce management practices, you should be prepared for these shifts. A rush in inquiries, sales, and customer support needs can make or break your holiday season!
Many physical stores capitalize on online-shopping days like Cyber Monday. However, according to data tracked in 2019, about a third (30%) of consumers bought products online that they then picked up in-store, and 80% of spending was done in-store. Even customers who shop online will also head in-store. 80% of shoppers last year browsed on a mobile device while shopping and before entering a store.
On top of consumers demanding more, businesses see consumers spend more and more during the holiday season. In 2019, holiday purchases in the United States were about 729.3 billion U.S. dollars. In 2000, this total was closer to 400 billion. This is an increase of over 120% and, on this scale, a considerable sum of money.
Customers are more active. And, customers demand more. So, what does that mean for your team? It can be challenging to manage your workforce on top of the surge in support calls, order placement and management, in-store operations, and your free time.
While you may need to hire additional employees for the holiday season, it is still essential to embrace workforce management practices to set you up for success. Outsourcing employee absence tracking, reporting, and alerting can be beneficial tools that save you and your team time.
Click here to learn how automations powered by phone lines can save your team time and money.
Here are some of our workforce management tips for the holiday season:
It is all about forecasting – understand your employee absence data related to the holiday business surge.
Experts reveal that workforce planners all over the world follow forecasting procedures.
“Most organizations experience periods of peak and low demand. From lunchtime to holidays to weather; throughout the day, week, month, and year, many predictable factors influence the ebb and flow of business.
How much money would your company save if you could foresee demand?
Small businesses, ones with only a few employees, saving a couple of hundred dollars every week, will add up to over $10,000 a year. Multiply those savings by several franchises or locations, or go from a small business to a large one or even an enterprise. Now you’re netting tens, thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of dollars a year.” – Matthew Oostman, Forecasting Expert, Shiftboard.
Several tools can help you to handle the heavy lifting in this process. Automated workforce management solutions ensure precise forecasts by collecting clean data. Then, they take the clean data and create trends typically illustrated on real-time dashboards. Identifying important dates to review and study, like the holiday season, gives everyone time to review employee needs and absence likelihood so you can schedule your staff and shift backups accordingly.
Does your team have on-call technicians or team members? Learn more about our on-call mobile application here.
Forecasts can help businesses stay more organized. Relying on what happened ensures that you make decisions with insight and don’t repeat mistakes. You can develop a better understanding of how and when the increased workload is likely. Then, your inventory and customer service teams can prepare accordingly.
Prepare for different customer experience scenarios – find experienced partners to support your business needs.
“Black Friday has already become a month-long event, so we’re expecting it to feel even longer this year.” – Miller Kern, Mashable Shopping.
The holiday shopping season drives more traffic and revenue. Between the holidays and COVID-19 restrictions, your customers will likely move on to the competitor if you are not prepared. How do you prepare? Find places where you can save time in workforce management and business process outsourcing. Utilize a contact center. Contact centers prepare for the holiday season by hiring and training additional agents, so you don’t have to. On top of reducing hiring needs, contact centers can alleviate tasks from your team’s to-do list, so they can focus on what’s important: your customers and bottom line.
To prepare for the holiday season, contact centers can use forecasting software along with what-if scenarios. Those scenarios can help you handle everything from a website crash due to heavy traffic, product recalls, customer queries, and more.
How do you prepare for surge and overflow service requests? Read our blog here.
“Let’s face it. Service is the single ingredient that separates one company from another, one salesperson from another, one product from another. In our highly competitive free enterprise system, there’s no such thing as a product so superior to its competition that outstanding service cannot make a difference. We have a small window to make a great impression and what better time to do it than Black Friday.” – Ian Miller, Editor, CSM.
It’s essential to plan, but remember to stay fluid and adapt quickly.
Although forecasting can help, mistakes can still happen. If you work with this mindset and stay fluid, you naturally find ways to handle fire drills and misalignment.
“Think of your store as a fulfillment center, rather than a traditional storefront. By adapting this mindset, retailers can focus more sharply on advanced order fulfillment, stocking and back-of-office efficiencies.” – Gil Don, CEO, Splitit from Shopify Interview.
Real-time customer experience monitoring and alerting is essential to remain fluid. Your customers want answers, products, and details now, and now is not always when you are ready. US-based live agent support and automated greetings are essential tools for creating fluidity and scale in your business. Here are a couple of questions you should be asking about your customers and employees ahead of the holidays:
- How are you handling omnichannel customer support?
- When your team calls in to request off, report absences, or notify of tardiness, does this take time from your staff?
- How many people will call out in November and December based on last year?
- When a customer has a problem, how do you find out about it? Email? SMS? Portal?
- Do you use voicemail for your primary phone line? Please don’t. Email us for support now.
Consumer support expectations and product/service demands are incredibly high, especially during the holiday season. Businesses must be focused on forecasting, preparing, and remaining fluid during the holidays.
In 2020, “Consumers are predicted to engage 30 percent more with service agents this holiday season. Retailers are equipping traditional service agents and store associates with the tools and skills required to quickly address consumer requests, particularly regarding product availability, shipping visibility, and status.” How have you prepared your business?
As the holidays arrive, contact centers prepare for the rush by hiring new agents and ramping up training. Through expert workforce management, experienced contact centers can manage customer expectations and deliver what their partners need. We are here to help.
Contact us to learn more!