Peak preparation: A blueprint for service success

8th Dec 2021

Peak shopping season is just around the corner. Consumers will be spending more on their favourite products and services, money will be flying in, and businesses will boom. What could go wrong? A lot, actually. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday marking the beginning of the biggest shopping season of the year, customer service teams need to be ready to ensure their level of service remains high and consistent. Dealing with fluctuating demand, however, is a lot easier said than done. 

Volatile demand is inevitable. Yet, many customer service teams haven’t made the right investments to ensure they can effectively cope with it, especially in a world where loyalty can be liquid. At this time of year, customer service teams are typically tripled with temporary agents that have minimal training and brand affinity, and struggle to manage high demand. During peak seasons, this is detrimental for lifetime value and often results in a poor customer service experience for consumers. The results are inevitably the same each year for companies who take this route.

The lead up to the peak shopping season therefore offers the opportunity to scale resources better with people who love and understand your products during the influx of customer service queries destined to come. Unlike unexpected demand or disruption - caused by a global pandemic,, a system outage or otherwise - we have the luxury of knowing that demand will increase but due to the unpredictability caused by the fundamental changes in consumer behaviour brought on by the pandemic, nobody can say for certain what that demand will look like. 

Adopting an agile gig customer service model is a more cost effective and proven way brands can equip themselves to tackle peak season head on. 

The power of the peak 

Peak season is crucial for retail and ecommerce sales, marking an opportunity to radically improve revenue and earn new customers with compelling offers and discounts. That all sounds great, until the moment you actually realise what’s coming your way — an enormous volume of customer support tickets, requests, phone calls, live chat messages and, worst of all, dissatisfied customers. 

Without the right preparation or tools, this is a logistical nightmare for current models, such as brick and mortar contact centres.  No amount of forecasting can ease the pressure customer service teams feel because these models lack the flexibility needed to cope with a surge in customer contacts. 

Restricted by fixed resource models, rigid headcounts and timed schedules, they’re often unable to quickly expand in line with demand. With that in mind, peak season is enough to break the one rule customer service teams must always keep - supply meeting demand. 

Meeting rising customer expectations 

Sticking to traditional models is a recipe for disaster. Angry and dissatisfied customers are like ticking time bombs for any business. If left waiting (often impatiently) in a customer service queue, they will hinder customer satisfaction rates resulting in missed opportunities to sell and keep customers coming back to you through brand loyalty.

Customer expectations are higher than ever, and unmanageable at a scale not seen before. Consumers now expect quick (almost instant) resolution from agents. Despite this, research by Super Office found that the average response time to respond to customer service requests is 12 hours and 10 minutes. In a world driven by instant gratification, that’s far too long. 

On top of that, we found that 1/3 of UK consumers are unsatisfied with customer service. And most consumers no longer see COVID-19 as a good excuse for poor customer service.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, customer service teams need to make a step-change in their approach to CX. Consumers are less forgiving and competition is hot. One bad experience can turn consumers against you and into the hands of another retailer. Being agile this peak season could make or break your brand. 

The role GigCX can play

The gig customer service model, which operates on a remote, 24/7 basis, can provide brands with a whole new level of flexibility. GigCX experts have the freedom to work when they want, all within the boundaries of when a brand may need extra help.

Since the crowd of GigCX experts grows and shrinks in line with supply and demand, you can enjoy enormous resilience against peak season. Limitless research found that 91% of GigCX experts said they were able to to take on more queries, with almost half saying they could take on 50% more tickets – showing the capacity to absorb volumes when necessary. 

Organisations are beginning to realise the positive impact a GigCX model can have to help them cope with accelerated demand. According to a recent Mckinsey report, leaders are learning that an “internal ‘gig worker’ approach could be a solution for managing future spikes in demand, whether from unforeseen events or seasonally based capacity increases.” 

For example, anticipating that customer-call volumes would remain elevated through the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the same report revealed that the extra support from GigCX experts helped various North American banks manage a high volume of calls. As the CX industry becomes ever more complex and unpredictable, leveraging a GigCX crowd can be your saving grace. 

Combat this year’s peak

No brand should be drowning in customer contacts - peak season or not. Customer service teams need to adapt to flex their operations to meet growing customer expectations for quick and efficient query resolution, on their terms. 

The bottom line is simple. Let this be the last year you prepare for the holiday period by tripling your team size with temporary agents who struggle to manage the demand and come at a great cost. Next year, adopt agile models that can successfully flex to the demand and ensure the level of customer service remains high. 


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