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The holiday season is well and truly upon us with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner. This magical time of year presents retailers with a moment of truth for their end to end customer journey from the promotion of their sales all the way to their returns process. With the average household planning to spend around $1,500 this holiday season (Deloitte), delivering a top-class customer experience should become the number one objective for all frontline support teams.

Before this shopping frenzy kicks-off, retailers need to prepare for the up to 5x increase in customer interactions (Guardian UK) which will begin as early as October (with McKinsey reporting that 14% of consumers will start their holiday shopping as soon as the autumn leaves start to fall). Most will have their shopping completed before December, making Black Friday and Cyber Monday key dates in the shoppers’ diary for buying those early gifts. The question is how can retailers make their customer experience as seamless as possible during busy peak periods where volumes substantially spike?

The first thing to consider is to ensure that all the technologies that support the customers’ journey can withstand high volumes of traffic that’s to be expected come Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Prior to this high-pressure period, it’s extremely important to plan tests for your website, checkout systems and warehouse software to better understand each system’s capacity, greatly reducing the chance of any problems arising when volumes spike.

A key driver to surviving Black Friday and Cyber Monday is speed. These shopping extravaganzas are sprints in the overall Holiday shopping marathon. By acting fast your frontline support team can interact with more customers and in turn resolve more issues by offering vital reassurance to shoppers which is key to success during this stressful and highly emotional time of year. Delivering great customer service can be best achieved by blending new and existing team members to form one super team – and by providing quick responses to queries or issues customers are less likely or complain or leave a negative review online! It’s not only the pre-Black Friday rush that needs to be considered, but with millions of gifts ordered, it’s likely a high proportion will be returned, and post-Black Friday and Cyber Monday customer service teams can be inundated with refund requests they need to process as quickly as possible to ensure customers can buy alternative gifts for loved ones or organise a replacement if needed.

In the event of something going wrong during this pressure period, which often it will, delivering VIP customer service can often turn a bad experience into a positive one. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are much more than the right offers at the right price – delivering great customer service is an essential part of your brand promise. By getting things right when things go wrong during the high-pressure holiday period gives retailers the opportunity to create brand advocates and a loyal customer base all year round.

Download our paper HERE, where we will discuss some of the challenges facing e-retail businesses during this most critical period and how retailers can ensure that their businesses are set up to succeed throughout the ‘most wonderful time of the year’.