Does voice remain the undisputed champion when it comes to supporting customers during peak periods such as Black Friday and Christmas?

Neville Doughty, Partnership Director

As we welcome those warmer days, it also a signal to many businesses to begin their peak planning for Black Friday and Christmas 2023. In this article, our Partnership Director Neville Doughty, reviews the impact of voice during peak and how it remains the undisputed champion when it comes to supporting customers during those challenging peak periods.

As the days get warmer and the nights get inevitably longer, thoughts for many will turn to handling peak demand, or for those who survived their last peak – reviewing how it went and learning lessons for the next one.

With the headwind of a cost-of-living crisis there’s uncertainty for some as to how busy they’ll be this year. However, all have the challenges of potentially needing to do more with less as increasing costs and potential recruitment issues could mean fewer contact centre agents.

So how do you balance demand and costs to serve? Service from a cheaper location, provide self-serve options, automate… all well-trodden paths with many failing to flourish if not approached in the right manner.

But isn’t voice the undisputed champion when it comes to resolving emotive issues, customers want to be able to engage via multiple channels based on their requirements. We’ve previously heard that:

  • 67% of consumers prefer self-serve
  • 96% will leave your brand if they have a high effort experience
  • 83% expect to engage with someone immediately when contacting a company

So, with these numbers in mind, what are the options and where does voice retain it’s title? If staff are harder to find and more expensive than ever, then is the key to ensure that they’re being used as effectively as possible? A ‘well trained’ bot can make a difference in the triage of those 67% who prefer self-service to ensure they only speak to someone if they really need to, it keeps people free for the 83% that want to engage immediately too.

Asynchronous messaging offers flexibility for a customer if they don’t have time to talk but need support, there are opportunities using WhatsApp or web messaging, for example, to easily send photos of what’s causing the issue and switch channel to voice at the right moment.

Proactivity is key when trying to minimise customer effort. For example, my train tickets for a strike day are no use to me now. I need a refund but clearly for commercial reasons I’m not going to be immediately offered one, they’d rather I just decide to travel on another day, but that doesn’t work for me, whereas a proactive contact with a link to trigger a refund would. Other scenarios are easier though and brands making timely interventions can improve the experience for the customer, whilst managing demand and pressure on their own staff.

Voice is here to stay, especially for complex or emotional conversations and certainly when looking to make a sale. The key is ensuring that people have the right skills and information to hand, as well as understanding the insights from those contacts and improving processes where possible. Or when outbound dialling that productivity and conversion are optimised through tools which support the agent in maximising their potential. Good people are hard to find so ensure you give them the tools to do a great job, failing that there is always the option of outsourcing – a problem shared and all that.

Looking for peak demand support this year? Get in touch, we are here to help!