In the run up to Christmas, online and offline retailers will, as usual, be desperately vying for consumer attention and wallet spend. Whether you’re a fan of the phenomenon or not, there’s no denying that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are an increasingly important part of the build up to Christmas. Since Black Friday’s introduction in 2014, online sales have risen steadily from £0.81bn to £1.49bn in 2018. Black Friday falls on 29th November this year, so is your customer service provision geared up and ready for the sudden rise in demand?

How big is the spike in sales around Black Friday?

As reported in a recent article on, the last few years have seen a pattern of increasing sales in the days leading up to Black Friday, with a marked spike on the day itself. Sales have continued at very high levels throughout Saturday, then risen again on Cyber Monday and the Tuesday too. So Black Friday isn’t just one day – it’s a sustained period of high spending and activity driven by promotions, the last pay day before Christmas and consumer responses to perceived limited offers.
According to a survey by SaleCycle, 70% of UK retailers will be taking part in Black Friday in 2019. This participation will be driven by increased sales promotion by those retailers, which will have a knock-on effect throughout retail sales as a whole, as buyers react to the pressure and increase their shopping online.

How does Black Friday impact your customer service teams?

Peak shopping days like Black Friday and the intensely busy days afterwards can put a huge amount of strain on customer service. This is not just because of increased volume, according to Business Matters, but the promotions used. To make an impact, many retailers will launch new products and/or promotions increasing the amount of new information that customer service agents need to deal with during a very busy time. As a consequence, this can result in negative customer experiences if challenges are not handled well.
The potential for success is significant, but the risk of failure is also heightened by the sheer volume and variety of transactions and issues in the few days around Black Friday. The limited timescales of this huge spike in retail spending mean that there’s not enough time to respond to and recover from failures. Therefore, it’s vital that retailers prepare for this period carefully and comprehensively.

How can you prepare customer service success?

1) Plan to succeed
If your organisation has experience of the Black Friday weekend, use all the sales and customer service data you have available to make predictions for 2019. In addition to reviewing sales made and calls handled, make sure you analyse abandon rates and calls received. This also applies to social channels and any online chat services you use. Plan your resources for the anticipated inbound spikes to ensure that you don’t miss opportunities to sell more products and make more customers happy.

2) Test your transactions
For most retailers taking part in Black Friday, their website will be the most critical part of the sales process. A site which performs well will maximise sales, whereas a poorly-performing site will not only lose opportunities, but will result in customers not coming back. The whole premise of Black Friday is limited availability, so your potential buyers will quickly move elsewhere!

3) Find flexibility
Not able to grow your customer service team to cope with the increased demand? There are other options available, so recruiting new team members does not need to be the only choice. Consider working with an outsourced contact centre to cope with the spike in volume, or to handle specific parts of your business processes. This can leave your experienced agents to deal with complex enquiries, while your additional team handles the more predictable tasks and interactions.

If your data from 2018 suggests that coping with Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2019 will be difficult, let us know. We can talk through the options available to you.