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How AI can help your contact center meet the Black Friday surge

Francis
Francis Thulliez Head of Sales | Retail & Services

In just a few short years, the logic behind Black Friday contact center preparations has changed. Due to recent developments in the customer service industry and the world at large, simply onboarding more agents just doesn’t make sense like it used to for high traffic periods. Instead, a technology-based approach to managing high call volumes across your customer service channels aligns with important metrics.

How

Every Black Friday, contact centers just get busier and busier, and it’s a trend that shows no signs of calming. Martech recorded a 229% jump in call volumes spanning the years 2016 and 2017. In spite of the surging traffic, the same Martech article argues that chatbots are at best “sufficient” when it comes to delivering a satisfying customer experience (CX).

Why not to hire extra contact center agents for Black Friday 

The most telling thing about this report is that it was written in 2018, which was only three years ago. However, given the glut of real-world events that have happened in that span, it feels to all of us like a generation has passed since that year. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have impacted how everybody approaches the concept of work, especially in the world of contact centers. It forced a rethinking of how contact centers should work for your contact center agents and your brand’s customer base alike. As a result, agent experience (AX) is now a serious factor in improving customer satisfaction.

A major key in keeping agents satisfied are prospects for skill development. It’s not enough for agents to simply collect a paycheck. As such, it follows that the idea of hiring for the holidays alone doesn’t adequately address the challenges that a spike in interactions brings on Black Friday. What’s more, agents that are hired to handle the holiday surge may only stick around for the temporary extra income, resigning afterwards and driving up your contact center’s agent attrition rate. Put simply, a 2018 argument that advocates good contact center preparations for Black Friday does not hold water in 2021.

What matters most in handling interactions

Expecting a room full of people to sort out the increased number of actions is, quite frankly, inefficient and wasteful when compared with the technology-based approaches that are sweeping the field of customer service. Innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) help agents and customers equally. Agents benefit by having typical or easily-solved interactions taken care of so they can use their interpersonal skills to create genuine rapports while handling more nuanced or demanding customer service queries. By the same token, customers are helped by forging a stronger relationship with your brand while also reducing their wait times, which is important in tabulating customer service metrics.

At the end of the (Black Fri)day, the most crucial thing is not how many agents are on your contact center’s floor but, according to Deloitte, the accuracy and quality of information customers receive, as well as the ease of interaction with your brand. AI drives potentially high-reward strategies that can help provide accurate information and smoother interaction across all of your channels, whether it’s chat, messaging or even voice-based interactions.

Devising your contact center’s Black Friday strategy

Martech makes a sharp distinction between voice and online, but both are actually necessary for responding to customer outreach. For a while, an omnichannel approach using multiple channels to communicate with customers was the standard. However, the reality is that customers care less about which channel they use and more about whether their voices have been heard, regardless of channel. This channel-less approach will dictate the success of customer service, and also that of your contact center on Black Friday, in the years to come. 

What should you look for when considering a new, AI-powered, cloud-based Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution? For one thing, you need to be sure that it integrates well with your existing solution. If Black Friday is fast approaching and you’re late to the consideration game, chances are that you’ll also need a solution that can be quickly and easily scaled up. Of course, a CCaaS provider that offers a fully-assisted implementation is equally indispensable to hitting the ground running.

If the prospect of learning how to handle multiple channels in such a short time is scary, or if you’re not sure that your center can justify the expense, a pay-what-you-use model might be right for you. This approach can align your budget with your usage, peaking when you do. Equally important, you could save your contact center operations money during not only slack months but periods of low employment as well.

Build your strategy with a CCaaS leader

Preparing for Black Friday in your contact center does not mean the same thing it meant just a few years ago. Instead of bringing in extra agents this holiday season, opt to develop your current squad by employing AI- and cloud-based Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) innovations. Odigo is a provider of CCaaS solutions and strategies that, for over 35 years, has prided itself on giving fully-assisted implementations. 

Would you like help bringing your content center into the age of AI?

Francis Thulliez
Head of Sales | Retail & Services

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