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

How AI can help your contact centre meet the Black Friday surge
Francis Thulliez
Francis Thulliez Head of Sales | Retail & Services

In just a few short years, the logic behind Black Friday contact centre 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 the way 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.

November 25, 2021 3 min of reading

Every Black Friday, contact centres just get busier and busier, and it’s a trend that shows no signs of calming. This year Black Friday consumers are forecast to spend a record amount over the weekend period, £9.42bn, most of which will be through online channels. Hand-in-hand with this is the surging contact centre traffic. With the increased willingness to self-serve contact centres should capitalise on the public desire for convenience by preparing a comprehensive spectrum of coping strategies.   

Why hiring extra contact centre agents for Black Friday is no longer best practice 

Innovation and real-world events have dramatically changed the perspectives and potential of contact centres. What was previously an understandable, and often necessary strategy, of seasonal hiring has rightly fallen out of favour. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have impacted how everybody approaches the concept of work, especially in the world of customer service. 

Work-life balance and agent experience are being recognised for their impact on the welfare of agents in addition to the link between agent and customer satisfaction. A major key in keeping agents satisfied are prospects for skill development. These skills and the inherent knowledge of experienced agents are a good reason why temporary staff with minimal onboarding represent a poorly thought through coping strategy. 

Alongside changes in working life, there has also been a wave of changes in customer attitudes and the maturation of customer contact technology. These point the way to lower cost, more sustainable strategies that can be deployed in unexpected upsurges, not just the predictable ones. Effective contact centre strategies for Black Friday no longer support hiring for the holiday. Instead, focus is being placed on maintaining a full complement of permanent staff by reducing agent attrition rate, these skilled agents are then augmented and supported with tech to handle seasonal spikes in interactions.    

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 centre’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 centre’s Black Friday strategy

The proliferation of modern channels creates an opportunity to spread the volume of traffic. Younger generations especially are increasingly turning to these alternative channels, therefore it is logical to capitalise on this trend. It is often, however, less important which channel is utilised and more critical to provide consistent quality messaging coupled with convenience. Omnichannel bots cater to such a channel-less approach, recording full interaction histories and contributing to the success of customer service strategies in your contact centre on Black Friday and for the years to come. 

What should you look for when considering a new, AI-powered, cloud-based Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solution? For one thing, 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 is intuitive to use with inherent scalability. 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 centre 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 centre 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 centre does not mean the same thing it meant just a few years ago. Instead of bringing in extra agents this holiday season, opt to properly support and enhance your current team by employing AI- and cloud-based Contact Centre 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 centre into the age of AI?

Francis Thulliez
Head of Sales | Retail & Services

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