Hammer offers a Free CX Benchmark report to ensure contact centers are ready for call surge!
Black Friday is nigh, and customers are waiting in the wings, ready to seize the opportunity to secure precious discounts as costs-of-living rise.
September’s retail results perhaps indicate this, as sales volumes fell by 1.4 percent according to the Office of National Statistics.
The organization noted that these results proved “a bitter pill to swallow for the industry.”
Yet, Black Friday offers the chance to bounce back, inspiring consumers to get creative and find the best deals.
Indeed, according to a research study conducted by Future Media, Black Friday spending is expected to reach $158 billion in 2022.
Of course, retailers will be only too happy to oblige and grab a big slice of this deferred spend.
Easier said than done, of course. Yet, preparation is critical. As the saying goes: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
Those that have planned will have noticed a shift in customer behavior. As Kurt Dahlstrand, Director Technical Sales & Services at Hammer, said:
“Covid shifted shoppers to websites and shopping apps, placing huge demands on their systems. The pandemic is less worrisome today, as retailers expect consumers to return to stores again. But the multi-channel shopping environment remains an essential part of the shopper’s experience.”
Yet, this statement begs the question: how can companies best optimize the multi-channel shopping experience and “win” Black Friday?
Freaking Out When It Peaks
The expected surge in online holiday shopping could easily strain or even overload the e-commerce and contact center infrastructure, with crashed shopping apps and wraths of calls.
Dahlstrand believes that minimizing this strain will be crucial, stating:
“The economic downturn means consumers will be laser-focused on online discounts. Expect unexpected surges in call volumes; a potential nightmare scenario for unprepared contact center managers whose platform hasn’t been stress tested in advance.”
Constrained capacity leads to lost sales, negative press, and social media complaints. At that point, it’s almost impossible to win back disappointed customers.
Thankfully, customers are likely to be a little more forgiving than usual. In a UK poll of 300 consumers, Zendesk found that 58 percent of consumers are willing to accept long waits.
However, there is a caveat: only eight percent will accept poor customer service.
Unfortunately, the pandemic exposed contact centers’ vulnerability to managing unexpected peaks in demand, often across several channels simultaneously. Such demand overloaded agents and severely undermined the service experience.
Moreover, chatbots may also come under severe strain, which can cause failures that force customers to pick up the phone and inundate the contact center platform. This increases the pressure on voice agents further.
Many were caught off guard, discovering too late that their infrastructure, network, and applications needed to measure up.
“Successful customer journeys depend on multiple technology systems working together seamlessly,” Dahlstrand said. “Disruptions lead to an annoyingly slow experience, or worst case, a complete failure of the system rendering self-service communication inoperable.”
Those that learned from those tough pandemic lessons are perhaps best placed to succeed.
Bear the Load With Automated Load Testing
Many contact centers have engaged in automated load testing to avoid history repeating itself. According to Dahlstrand, it is “the only reliable way to test a business continuity strategy.”
Such testing runs real-life simulations to provide crucial insights into how a contact center will perform under stress, ensuring it will perform during peak periods.
Moreover, it simulates up to hundreds of thousands of calls in minutes and facilitates end-to-end testing using virtual agents that validate proper call routing, screen pop data delivery, and call quality.
Hammer supports businesses with these load-testing solutions that “hammers” the contact center with synthetic customer interactions to test resiliency. In doing so, operations garner unique insights that enable smooth service experiences.
The latest addition to its platform is VoiceWatch. The solution searches the entire telephony system for current and potential technical problems by emulating real-world customer interactions. These occur as contacts pass between the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and the IVR application.
Such a tool helps test contact center deployments. Yet, more importantly, it becomes easier to find the root cause when technological errors arise.
Hammer Offers Free Holiday Season CX Benchmark Assessment
Get ahead of the risks. Hammer can assist you with a free CX Baseline Assessment.
Such an offering comes at the ideal time when the stakes are high. You won’t get a second chance to make a great first impression.