The UK and the US have always inspired each other ‘across the pond’. One of the biggest imports over the years has been Black Friday. Kicking off in stores 29th November this year, with many sales the week before and after, Black Friday deals have transformed holiday season retail in the UK.
According to last year’s holiday review by IMRG, Christmas season spending was below analyst expectations. It was reported that while online sales reached £1.49 billion, uncertainty over Brexit, heavy discounts before the holidays and a growing sense of apathy for Black Friday may be leading to lacklustre spending.
That’s why winning Black Friday this year will take more finesse and appreciation for the sensitivity of the consumers than the previous holidays. Therefore, we’ve laid out some customer experience tips for the holidays that can help make your CX stand out.
Giving back matters
The main motivation for shoppers during this season will always be the deals, but chaotic rushes to buy trendy items, traffic and the stress put on retailers has left a bad taste and driven many shoppers online. That’s why several organisations in the UK have taken the opportunity to make Black Friday about giving back.
For example, the jewellery brand Missoma has teamed up with Tree Sisters, a women’s environmental charity, that offers to plant one tree for every order. Or Pieminister, who last year donated 100 per cent of its profits for each ‘black pie’ to Shelter, a charity that assists those struggling with homelessness.
We’ve seen for ourselves the impact organisations can have on consumers when they create unifying experiences that go beyond sales. Similar to meaningful campaigns we highlighted during the World Cup, events like Black Friday will draw in incredibly large crowds. Use the holiday rush to show that values matter to your organisation and it’ll speak loudly to your audiences.
Messaging needs to be a priority
Black Friday will be a mixed bag of brick-in-mortar, online and everything in-between as consumers buy, exchange and request help over different channels. But one element that will stay consistent during every experience is the use of mobile devices. Consumers are using messaging apps like WhatsApp to chat with one another in unprecedented numbers, and organisations need to meet them there.
The rollout of platforms like Apple Business Chat will initiate direct messages with a human brand representative via iMessage through entry points such as Maps, Siri and Safari. Brands will have a prime opportunity during the holiday to provide easy, 24/7 customer service to customers who are stuck in an in-store queue, can’t make it to stores due to busy schedules or have trouble accessing a computer.
And the beauty of messaging for Black Friday is the chance to have authentic conversations between users and associates over devices they feel comfortable with. As major companies continue to adopt messaging platforms, don’t be afraid to encourage your customer-facing associates to use emojis and GIFs to brighten up someone’s shopping experience.
Have customer agents ready for anything
But before all else, there needs to be a strategy. The Black Friday rush will involve a lot more than customers coming through your door. Bad weather, data breaches and website crashes can all throw a stick in a wheel that is moving very, very fast. The result of these situations hitting on key shopping days can be catastrophic for understaffed customer sales and service agents who already face high volumes.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of potential surges and peaks with a CX (customer experience) partner that is ready for rapid responses and emergency contact centre support. Leaders need to assess the gaps across operations, training and technology in their customer service. Here’s what we recommend you begin with:
- Optimise your learning and training
- Update your knowledgebase
- Deploy technology and innovations
- Implement AI (artificial intelligence) and chatbots
- Create a surge playbook
Get ready for Black Friday and the Christmas retail season
Black Friday in the UK is constantly evolving as customer expectations continue to take shape with today’s values and technology. What leaders need to recognise now is how to take charge and expect the unexpected.
Author: Iain Banks, Regional Vice President, International Markets at TTEC
Image credit: Fotolia