CCW Digital recently published an article about the spike in online shopping as a result of COVID-related lockdowns, and how retailers are adapting (or not) to meet their customers’ shifting needs and habits. Of course, the piece focused mainly on US trends, and while they can be a reasonably good benchmark, Australia isn’t always a carbon copy of US trends.
A prime example is the difference between the two countries online sales stats: CCW Digital reported a 50% increase in online sales in the US, while around the same time, Australia’s ABC news, quoting Australia Post, reported an 80% rise.
If you manage a contact centre in the retail sector and have an online presence, the message is clear – your team is going to be dealing with a much higher volume of calls, and if you’re not prepared, your performance stats and customer loyalty is going to suffer.
Retailers struggling to keep up
In his article for CCW Digital, Matt Wujciak cites a list of well-known American retailers, like Macy’s, J Crew, and Nordstrom, as well as the UK’s John Lewis, and the flat-pack behemoth, IKEA, who are all struggling to adapt and adjust. And with the increase in online traffic, their customers are experiencing “hours-long wait times (on calls), online chats where no one answers, and unreturned calls and emails”. Macy’s customer service hub includes an apology for long wait times, and IKEA now only accepts order cancellations by email in an effort to free up their service staff.
Another well-known retailer, Lululemon, reportedly added 500 former store employees to its call centre, in addition to 300 new staff they had already transferred; however, Wujciak adds, customer service staff isn’t the only place retailers should be looking. It’s about finding the “right balance of automation vs. humans, digital vs. voice,” he says, so they can be more responsive to increases in customer enquiries.
From scrambling to normalising
While some businesses haven’t survived the tumult of the year, others have held on, scrambling their staff and shaking up their business models in a high-speed effort to adapt. But as the realities of longer-term restrictions set in, it’s clear these temporary solutions need to transform into something much more robust.
Having the right customer experience infrastructure in place is critical, particularly in your customer service centre. Whatever might be happening in the world around us, your customers expect great service.
At Premier Contact Point, we make sure you can deliver. Premier Contact Point offers a full suite of contact centre solutions, including secure payment, workforce management, and cash flow integrations to keep your business thriving in the face of adversity.
Over the past six months, we’ve helped many of Australian organisations and businesses get their staff set up to work securely from home with minimal service disruption, using our 24-hour activation service.
We’ve also created a series of videos with critical tips and insights on how to manage remote teams while continuing to raise the customer experience bar. With the right systems, support and training, your business can grow stronger than ever, improving customer loyalty into the bargain.