Black Friday is a hugely profitable time for retailers looking to make the most of festive holiday sales. In 2021, ecommerce alone saw nearly $9 billion in sales on Black Friday. Making sure you’re successful on this day means fortifying your brand with the right promotions, marketing, and Black Friday customer service to bring in and satisfy as many customers as you can in this busy period.
Black Friday (and its sister holiday, Cyber Monday) can be a double-edged sword, adding the stress of dealing with antsy shoppers looking to make sure their orders are filled properly and promptly. Use this Black Friday customer service survival guide by the customer service experts at Gladly to ensure your support team is prepared and energized for the coming weeks. Use this guide and pro tips to prepare your support team and make sure they don’t get depleted during this hectic shopping season.
- Black Friday Customer Service: Customer Tips
- Black Friday Customer Service: Team Management Tips
- Black Friday Customer Service: Channel Tips
- Black Friday Customer Service: Self-Service Tips
- The Right Support Platform for Black Friday
1. Stay engaged and personal
Once Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around, customers will reach out to your support channels more frequently. However, the high volume shouldn’t affect how agents approach customer conversations, especially since they’re essential to relationship building and fostering a sense of loyalty. The secret ingredient to sustaining high-quality conversations is personalization. Uniquely acknowledging each customer reinforces that they’re more than just a number to you, building customer loyalty and increasing your odds of positive word-of-mouth referrals.
Pro tip: Personalization can be tricky when you don’t have the time or patience to recall customer information for each shopper who contacts your support team. But you can choose a support platform that makes these details immediately available no matter where and when customers reach you, ensuring an agent’s ability to remember key bits of conversations or past orders that show these shoppers you recognize them and appreciate their business.
2. Active listening diffuses tensions (and increases retention)
Your team will inevitably interact with frustrated, impatient, or rude customers during peak season. When this happens, it’s best to use active listening strategies that de-escalate frustrated shoppers and provide more efficient service.
Pro tip: For consistency and expediency, develop and provide a set of active listening-focused prompts for your team to guide unhappy customers to a resolution. Having these on hand will leave agents feeling prepared to problem solve.
Unlock customer loyalty through natural conversation
3. Avoid and decrease friction in your checkout flow
The last thing customers want is for purchases to stall at the last moment due to lingering questions. To circumvent this, always provide relevant details on your individual product pages, such as sizing details or ingredient information. Back these up with detailed FAQ pages in your self-service options.
1. Make sure you’re staffed up
It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the busiest time of year — especially for customer support teams. When you have the right amount of staff, you avoid customers’ frustrations and preserve your agents’ work time and sanity — a win-win.
Pro tip: Staffing up for peak season? Don’t wait — aim to complete onboarding and training for new hires by the end of October. Gladly Academy offers free training and certification to customers that teams can complete at their own pace.
2. Boost morale before the season starts
Even with the holiday cheer in the air, your agents are bound to run into a few Scrooges. Make sure your support team maintains a healthy amount of positivity and optimism when solving issues, using non-judgmental and solution-oriented language throughout their communications.
Pro tip: A positive customer experience is the byproduct of a positive support center with happy employees. Make sure morale is high and your teams feel supported during busy times by showing your appreciation or even practicing team-building exercises in anticipation of the big day.
3. Track and acknowledge team wins
With quiet quitting on the rise, support workers are increasingly feeling underappreciated and disconnected from their work. During peak holiday shopping season, these feelings can intensify under the pressure of emotional customers, increasing volume and shifting coverage with PTO time. For managers, it’s imperative to acknowledge and reward above-and-beyond work from your team from this time period.
Pro tip: Managers should have a workforce management tool that allows them to quickly and easily monitor important metrics on a daily basis, such as FCR and handle time.
Optimize your service staffing with Gladly's workforce management
1. Provide multiple contact channels and staff for them
Your customers will inevitably reach out during peak shopping season, especially if you offer a limited-time sale or deal. Customer communication bottlenecks — where shoppers only have one or two ways to contact a support team — lead to cranky shoppers, losses in sales, and poor word-of-mouth referrals. Avoid this by offering multiple contact methods and staffing to cover the channels you use:
- Phone support
- Personalized IVR
- Live chat (on your website and in a mobile app) over text/SMS
- Social media and email
Pro tip: Offering a Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal or sale? Ensure you have support staff covering the channels you’re promoting the deal on. For example, if you’re offering an in-app-only discount code, ensure that you’ve got in-app chat support to answer interested shoppers on the fly.
2. Personalize your IVR options
Imagine that your IVR can associate a customer’s mobile number with their account and provide personalized information like order status, upcoming reservations, or the status of loyalty points. Personalized IVR makes this all possible. Rather than waiting indefinitely on hold, your customers can quickly navigate to the help they need. Not only does this cut down on wait times, but it also provides a white-glove personalized experience to the shopper.
Pro tip: Not all customer service tools provide easy access to customizing your IVR. Gladly provides fully autonomous IVR access so Admins can set up IVR trees quickly and autonomously — no Gladly involvement required.
3. Offer IVR to SMS to slash wait times
When call volume increases, so do wait times. Companies should give customers faster resolution methods to avoid phone-driven traffic jams by channeling them from phone lines to messaging channels like SMS. The key to launching IVR to SMS, so your customers use it, is to keep your flow setups simple. For instance, add an option to press #4 for SMS and then have the IVR trigger a text that starts a conversation.
Pro tip: Cover your bases with “failure” and “success” recorded messages. For example, if the customer’s IVR to SMS request fails, provide a recording saying something like “Sorry, your request failed,” and then connect the customer to an agent via phone. However, if it succeeds, provide a recorded message that says, “Success — looking forward to texting with you.”
1. Arrange help options in preference order
Use psychology to your advantage this holiday season: because our eyes naturally move from left to right and vertically, it’s best to organize your self-service help options in order of preference from left to right and top to bottom. (Note: this should reflect your customers’ preference — if your customers traditionally prefer SMS for support outreach, place SMS in the top left position.)
Pro tip: For each help option, include your hours of operation with time zones in mind. Also, keep each help option distinct — for example, even if you use the same phone number for calling and texting, provide two separate boxes for each option. Framebridge’s Help page, pictured below, is a great example to emulate — it’s detailed, easily scannable, and straightforward.
2. Add trending questions to FAQ page
Self-service is a must-have CX tool year-round, but it’s worth its weight in gold during the peak shopping season. During Black Friday/Cyber Monday, ask your support team to escalate any new questions they’re repeatedly getting from customers and update your FAQ page accordingly. If you have customer service reporting, you can also see trending topics on a team-wide level to understand what types of issues customers are reaching out about.
Pro tip: Include hyperlinks in agent email auto-replies and email signatures that direct customers to important self-service pages, FAQ docs, etc.
With Black Friday customer service, support teams must be prepared to meet shoppers’ needs. A support platform like Gladly provides fast-action, omnichannel capabilities that empower your team to easily and quickly solve the high volume of customer issues. Investing in these tools ensures your brand can conserve the quality experience your customers have come to expect and reduce the stress on your agents, potentially protecting the company from employee attrition.
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