Black Friday: How to prepare your customer service team

Black Friday means your customer service team must be well-prepared, as it is one of the most important shopping days of the year. Maybe even the most important one! To make sure your customer service team is ready to provide the best possible customer experience, read our best tips to prep for Black Friday!

What’s the history of Black Friday?

For many Americans, Black Friday is an integral part of their Thanksgiving tradition, as it is always celebrated the day after Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November). But the term Black Friday wasn’t initially at all related to retail. It was first used in 1869 when gold prices caused a market crash that caused substantial damaging effects on the US economy. 


Then, during the 1950s-1960s, it became known as the current term, although with quite a negative connotation. It was coined by the Philadelphia traffic police, who feared Black Friday since it represented the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It meant massive traffic jams all over the city due to all the shopping-craving people.

The continuous evolvement of the Black Friday concept

Black Friday has become an integral part of the retail industry – both physical and digital, and as e-commerce continues to grow, the Black Friday concept becomes more digital every year. 


E-commerce reached a whopping $8.9 billion in transactions in 2021 in the United States. In-store shopping dropped, so overall spending might continue to move online. Black Friday also saw a shift in consumer behaviour as smartphones accounted for 44.4% of digital transactions, a 10.6% increase from Black Friday 2020. 


In Sweden, Black Friday was introduced for retail in 2013. But there, alongside many other countries, it is Black Week and especially Black Month that really gained a foothold. In 2021, e-commerce sales during Black Friday increased by 4%, Black Week by 8%, and Black Month by a whopping 13% – compared to 2020.


For 2022, Deloitte expected Holiday sales to grow by 4-5%. With the increased cost-of-living making a real impact on consumers in 2023, many shoppers are placing more importance than normal on finding bargains, with two thirds saying they'll be buying items on sale.

7 ways to prepare your customer service team for Black Friday 

But what does Black Friday mean for customer service, and how do you prepare your support team? Here are our best tips:


1. Handle the increased task load with more staff

Not only does Black Friday usually result in an increased number of customers, but also their questions and problems you need to help them with. So begin by calculating how many more staff members might be required to add to the customer service team to handle queries and to be responsible for specific queues. 


2. Use smart routing

Do you use smart routing? If not, you should set up your PBX asap. With smart routing, your customers calling, texting, or even reaching out to you via social media will  be forwarded directly to the right place and person.


3. Use programmability

You can take your smart routing one step further by incorporating programmability into your call flow. This allows you to use more advanced features to create a smoother call experience and reduce the manual work for your employees.

For example, you could prompt callers to enter their order number using their phone keypad, then use HTTP requests to check their order status in your eCommerce platform. If you want to really wow your customers and save your staff time, you could then trigger a pre-recorded message based on that order status, so that your customers can get an update without needing to wait for a staff member to become available.


4. Update your welcome message

With busier times ahead, you might want your customers to know that they might have to wait in line a little bit longer. Update your welcome message with just an additional sentence like: “Our current response time is longer than usual. We’re sorry to keep you waiting.”


5. Up your queue management game

Support managers need to be up to date with the state of the contact center, and this is especially important during peak seasons. You want to have information about the availability of agents and see who’s away or available. A modern contact center should be able to provide you with stats for the current longest waiting line in the queue. You should be able to take action on that information, like adding more support team members to the queue if it’s busy. 

Reducing time-to-resolution is ever so important during Black Friday because if agents take too long to respond or solve an issue, you might lose a sale. If your contact center isn’t up for the test, you might need to look into a new solution. In Telavox’s Call Center Pro package, there’s a function called My Overview, which is excellent for support managers as they always have the latest insights about the state of the contact center.


6. Use your contact center data and insights

During intense periods like Black Friday, there’s a greater need to know the specific information for every case, like what deals the customer chooses. Your contact center will prove valuable if it has the option to provide an overview of all statistics, reports, and data.


7. Don’t forget the possibilities with live chat!

It’s common for customers to get stuck on the check-out page for various reasons, like doubting if they should go forward with the purchase. If you add an automated pop-up chat message to the check-out page, your customer support team can help and convert the customer, boosting your conversion rate. Test the live chat in advance, maybe during a pre-Black Friday sale, to ensure it works properly. You’ll also know then how many agents you need to deploy.


Another live chat tip is to create a banner or pop-up on your website that links to the Black Friday sale. Also, use automated chat messages to drive visitors to the sales page or to initiate chat conversations with your support team. Then all visitors get a warm welcome!

Strengthen internal communication with smart telephony

For your customer service team to be able to deliver top-notch customer service during the intense holiday season, they need to be rightfully equipped. Since this day and the period before and after Black Friday might not be business as usual, the need for effective communication is vital.


A cloud-based telephony solution

A cloud-based telephony solution helps achieve fast and efficient internal communication. Here, telephony, chat, contact center, and more are gathered in one platform. Your CRM can be integrated with your telephony and other solutions, meaning less hassle for your employees. The customer service team can easily communicate through an internal chat or quickly arrange a video meeting or telephone conference. 


Remote work

As the solution is cloud-based, you can allow the customer support team to work from wherever they choose. This is especially useful if you need to increase the number of agents in a short space of time.


Call identification

As soon as someone calls, the agents can see who it is – even if it is a previously unknown contact, and greet them with their name, making the customer feel seen.


Calendar synchronisation

Let all team members sync their calendars with your telephony solution. In that way, everyone can instantly see who’s currently available and not.

Summary: Preparing for Black Friday

To make sure everything is ready for the most intense period of the year, you need to plan ahead. The workload will increase and having additional support makes a first step. If you use a well-functioning telephony solution today – fantastic! Make sure to take advantage of all the smart solutions available such as live chat and stay up-to-date with collected data from the system.


If you are considering investing in a new telephony solution, we’ll be happy to discuss the benefits of Telavox. We work with businesses of all sizes, and our solution is perfect for companies in the retail industry and if you’re running an e-commerce business.

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