Managing Director PeopleTECH
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Customer experience is for life not just Christmas

23rd Nov 2016
Managing Director PeopleTECH
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As November draws to a close, we are well and truly into the Christmas shopping season. The major retailers have premiered their adverts, the Christmas songs are on the radio and Black Friday is almost upon us.

It’s a period of the year that is usually the busiest for most retailers, and one in which they often take on additional staff to support the business, whether in-store or in the contact centre, aiming to keep the tills ringing and ensure that the customer experience is not affected.  Customer experience is important all through the year, but somehow even more so in the run-up to the festive season. How can brands ensure they offer a seasonal experience to remember?

Black Friday - getting the season started

Black Friday is a US custom that has made its way across the pond in recent years. It always falls the day after Thanksgiving in the US but is now also the biggest shopping day of the year in the UK.

For many retailers this isn’t even a one-off event now, and they start their discounts days or even weeks ahead of Black Friday, and it signifies the start of the biggest month in the retail calendar. All of the usual challenges faced by retailers – more choice for consumers, a willingness to shop around online – are magnified at this time of the year.

So customer experience continues to be a key differentiator. In store this can be nice seasonal touches such as special store openings, food and samples and festive promotions, while online it can be discounts, targeted offers and much more.

These ‘softer’ elements of the customer experience are important and can play a role in the overall impression that customers take from a retailer. But it is far more important that areas such as the supply chain and contact centre continue to function effectively.

A heighted CX at Christmas

Additional staff will usually be recruited for the Christmas period and deliveries may also be outsourced. These staff can be brought up to speed with a company’s values and approach to customer experience, and a retailer would always due its due diligence when selecting a delivery partner.

But the customer experience is invariably heightened at this time of year. Whereas normally a customer might cut a brand some slack if there is a slight problem with a delivery date, at Christmas it can mean the difference between someone receiving or not receiving a gift. This means that the need for prompt and efficient delivery is even greater. It might well be the delivery firm’s fault that an order has been misplaced, but the customer wouldn’t see it that way – their exchange was with the retailer.

So rather than ramping up efforts for the season, perhaps brands would be better served improving their all-round cutomer experience, focusing on strong mobile, a contextual experience across channels and utilising the Single Digital Channel (SDC), which should be the ultimate aim for any brand to address customer requirements effectively.

This would also alleviate some of the pressure faced by retailers at Christmas: having a scalable model that you know works under pressure and that can be dialled up or down according to need, means they can concentrate on any additional seasonal touches to improve the customer experience.

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