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Getting ready for Black Friday: Effectively managing eCommerce peak demand in the Contact Centre

Uncovering key considerations on how to ramp up resources for seasonal sales periods

 

Are you preparing for Black Friday 2020 but find it challenging to set up a flawless back-office customer support team?

 

Forecasting the necessary resources can be a hurdle, and even more difficult with the current market uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. eCommerce sales are expected to raise but integrating digital channels into the Customer Experience (CX) strategy is not so straightforward.

 

If you are finding it tricky to successfully plan and operate peak demands, keep reading.

 

Operating within the eCommerce landscape for a wide variety of clients, CPM International Contact Centre have developed unparalleled expertise dealing with the seasonal peaks and troughs related to sales, product launches, returns and in some instances, handling unexpected volume demands. By combining omnichannel strategies, flexible resource models and operational know-how, we constantly deliver a seamless experience for the end customer, no matter the sales period.

 

The impact of Black Friday week is not only on the sales and eCommerce Support department but it also affects recruitment, training, IT teams, and many other areas of the business. The preparation for this November commerce period can start up to 12 months in advance. Yet, specifically in our business we see a peak from September onwards with hiring and onboarding induction. Some of our clients work in a unique way as they update their forecast on a monthly basis, but for a relatively small, core team, this can create some challenges to manage the operation successfully.

 

Our holistic approach to peak demand planning is tailored to every client according to their needs. We closely design the ramp up strategy together with our client partners resulting in better performance management, deep employee engagement, exceptional customer satisfaction and ultimately, higher sales. During 2019 Black Friday season, CPM delivered €5 Million in sales for our eCommerce Contact Centre clients.

 

In this article, we are uncovering what business areas are critical to preparing for a successful Black Friday and provide you with best practices on how the operational manager and CX teams can build and work on a structured plan encompassing 3 core areas: business, client, and people.

 

1. Business area: Dynamic Resourcing

Firstly, you should determine where resources should be allocated within the business. When using a dynamic resource model, budget and headcount vary on a monthly basis according to expected fluctuating demand. For a contact centre careline this implies:

  • New approach to recruitment: revise agent profiling to look for people that are more flexible, fast to learn and adaptable to change, with versatile interview assessment.
  • Induction training: generic onboarding sessions for time saving.
  • Flexible contracts: enabling the business to hire more part-timers, and introducing new working schedules around the arrival pattern, hence, minimizing the impact during opening time.

 

2. Client area: Operational Optimisation and Transparent Reporting

Secondly, operational excellence is key to delight customers. We work closely with our client partners to revise the procedures and streamline the day to day operations; adopting a continuous improvement approach:

  • We optimize resources by sharing agents across different operational teams, driving cost efficiencies and improving our knowledge base.
  • Create new analyst roles responsible for reviewing CSAT results and quality assessments to provide insight and build the plan for the future.
  • We build robust tailor-made reports delivering consistent insight on the customer journey and share NPS reports with the client.
  • Consider investing in reporting tools such as Power BI to enable arrival patterns tracking versus forecasting on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.
  • Improve CRM platform configurations to drive efficiency among the team.
  • Integrate technology into your omnichannel strategy. CPM develops chatbot solutions (Answerbot) to support during peaks and enabling automation of transactional contacts.

 

3. People area: Employee Experience

Thirdly, remember great employee experience equals great customer experience. So, make their work-life easier, motivating, and enjoyable – especially during the accelerated operating rhythm driven by sales peak. Some tips for enhanced people experience that will lead to high performance are:

  • Introduce employee engagement surveys: allow your team to have a say, and be transparent by sharing their feedback and outcomes during a team’s session. Allocate budget for employee engagement activities, boosting team building.
  • Revise the incentive plan: ensure people feels motivated and valued while stimulating productivity.
  • Career development: during the peak it can be arduous to maintain the standard 1to1 session with every employee, therefore you can introduce group sessions. Still, it is important to map clear individual career development, not only to reinforce your structure for the future, but to ensure your people have the opportunity to stay and grow within the business.
  • We review work-flows and provide templates in order to support the team and to provide a consistent responses to customers.
  • We offer our people stability and job security during the off-peak periods with options to reduce hours or work on other CPM operational teams.

 

As CPM work with clients operating in a wide range of sectors, their peaks and troughs fall on different times of the year. This allows us to manage our resources across different projects having all busy sales periods covered and avoiding idle staff. For instance, an agent recruited for Black Friday, has the opportunity to move within our business in line with another client peak. This help us to drive cost efficiencies by reducing the cost of new hire and training.

 

With flexible resource models we can offer our clients the security to have efficient resources to manage sales peaks. Being flexible and sharing resources helps to avoid backlog situations, and ensure we have happy, engaged and retained staff. We have been able to reduce backlog from 28 to 0 days for one of our clients in just few months and reduce employee turnover by 38%.

 

 

We invest time into reviewing different operational and delivery models, offering transparency and flagging potential risks. We encourage involvement from our clients and approach this in a collaborative and agile way. Some of our existing clients work with multiple partners on global basis and have replicated our business and delivery model across other programmes to offer a consistent customer experience. CPM have transformed its eCommerce Contact Centre Programmes to agile and flexible omnichannel solutions with Customer Experience excellence at its core.

 

We don’t know what 2021 will look like. This year has certainly evidenced we can’t always plan for the future. However, we believe the industry needs models that are flexible enough to cope with challenges that you can’t yet foresee, so you can be ready to adapt in a very proactive way.

 

What if getting ready for Black Friday could be a smooth endeavour? Contact us at infobcn@cpm-int.com if you would like to master your eCommerce sales and customer support regardless of your business seasonal fluctuating demand.

 

 

 

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