Retail Tips & Tricks for the 2021 Holiday Season

Customers are checking off their gift lists earlier (and spending more!) than previous years. Is your phone system up to the task to support your end-of-year revenue goals? If not, now’s the time to move to a cloud-based system and get your call center prepared for the holiday shopping season. 

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The holiday season is here, are you prepared?

With pent up shopper demand and online shopping preferences still at play due to COVID-19, paired with the global supply chain nightmare that’s been taking place over the past 10 months, smart retail leaders are preparing their communications to overcome anticipated holiday challenges, while capitalizing on revenue from the holiday season. 

Shoppers have already begun filling their carts and purchasing gifts to get ahead of the supply chain slowdown. According to The NPD Group, holiday sales began earlier than October. As big discount days approach, such as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, holiday retail sales are estimated to grow 7-9% more than last year, with eCommerce sales growing 15%. Now’s the time to make sure your communications can handle your sales and support needs. 

4 Ways to Prepare Your Contact Center for the Holiday Season

The end-of-year shopping season presents the longest, sharpest, and broadest reaching surge in call center demand. In fact, ticket volume increases 42% on average for retailers during the holidays. This means ensuring your call center is prepared for an influx of volume is no joke during the most wonderful time of the year.

And regardless of demand, customers still expect the same level of support as other times in the year. Making plans before the rush can set you up for success, helping you avoid losing sales or leaving customers unhappy and hurting your chances at making them repeat shoppers down the road. Here are a few ways to ensure your contact center provides a great shopping experience this holiday season:

  1. Use virtual numbers to tap into new shopper markets and drive local sales
  2. Have the right telecom features in place to simplify the shopping experience
  3. Leverage CRM integrations to personalize shopper experiences
  4. Consider switching to the cloud so you can easily scale as you grow

1. Tap into New Shopper Markets and Drive Local Sales

With more shoppers choosing contactless shopping options such as curbside pickup, online ordering and delivery, and phone orders, it’s never been more important to lean into your communications platform to power a seamless purchasing experience.

One way to do this is to purchase a virtual local phone number and provide toll-free and local number options for shoppers. DID numbers are a quick way to appear local, even if you don’t have a physical store in that region. Provide a local presence to shoppers in different markets and gain customer trust and also improve engagement.

Local numbers are important for retailers and eCommerce businesses because they show that you belong in the same community as your shoppers. Two-way local presence dialing - like AVOXI’s TrueLocal service - offers shops like yours the benefit of appearing local with the cost savings of working with an international carrier. A phone number that’s memorable and simple to dial is also a good one to have. Toll free, including vanity numbers, are great for retailers’ holiday marketing campaigns, and they cost nothing for your customers to use. 

2. Simplify the Shopping Experience

Modern life is hectic. Throw in the bustle of the holiday season and you have a customer base that doesn’t have time to spend endless hours interacting with your shop. When they’re ready to buy, make sure your phone communications are ready to convert. Here are a few ways to simplify the shopping experience through your communications software.

Leverage SMS:

Business voice services are still a must-have for connecting with customers who prefer speaking with a live person when placing an order or calling about an issue. While the majority of shoppers still prefer to communicate by phone, your more tech-savvy customers will appreciate the speed and succinctness of SMS messaging. Both types of communications - part of standard VoIP services - ensure your clients have the kind of shopping experience they want. Your ability to take orders and deliver quality customer service through multiple channels will help boost sales and improve customer satisfaction. 

Answer shopper questions quickly:

If your retail operations are more complex, or if you want to free up staff time by offering standard answers to common customer questions, set up interactive voice response (IVR)—also known as a phone tree. IVR software offers callers an interactive menu of options, such as “select a department” or “hours and directions,” that points customers to the quick answers they’re looking for without tying up your team. With AVOXI’s IVR routing services, your store can create an unlimited number of custom greetings and menus to stay on-brand while personalizing your customer experience. 

Route shoppers to the right agent the first time:

Related to IVR, call queueing increases agent productivity by organizing inbound calls based on rules you establish. When a call comes through, a call queue dashboard helps you see who is available to answer the call and how long the average wait time is. 

You can choose to route calls to certain agents based on relevant criteria or customer priority with skills-based routing - a great fast-track option for your most loyal shoppers. There are many ways retailers and eCommerce sites can set up this intelligent call distribution service by product, language, VIP clients, geography, sales, support, and more! You can also choose to send calls into an IVR menu or put them on hold until the right agent becomes available.

Don’t make your shoppers sit on hold:

No one likes to sit on hold. In fact, most customers are only willing to wait on hold for two minutes before hanging up. Give your customers more time back in their day with queue callback. With this feature, you can offer to call shoppers back instead of making them wait on hold. Callbacks are especially popular during product launches or holiday seasons when customers are eager to get their hands on a new item but don’t want to wait on an endless hold. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Improved KPIs. Callback functionality can improve numerous KPIs including hold times, call abandon rate, and first contact resolution rates. 
  • Happier customers and employees. Nothing makes customers more frustrated than waiting on hold for an extended period of time. By the time they get to the agent, they are frustrated. This kind of communication leads to a poor experience for the customer and your employees. By removing the hold time, your customer gets more time back in their day, and your representatives get to speak with calmer, happier customers.
  • Reduced cost. Each minute your shoppers spend on hold is tallying up on your phone bill. A call-back option can save your business a significant amount of money on your call center’s telecom bill. For example, if your wait time cost is $0.01 per minute and your average wait time is 8 minutes, and you receive 100 calls a day Monday through Friday, you could save $160 per month by offering a callback option.  

3. Personalize the Shopping Experience

Your company strives to deliver a personalized shopping experience that leaves customers feeling like their time and money were well-spent. You can do this by connecting your CRM, helpdesk, or web chat to your communications platform so your call center team can know everything about a customer’s shopping history when they call. 

Giving your team access to customer details, including order history, past support requests, and demographic information creates a 360-degree view of the customer that helps your agents anticipate the customer’s current needs. 

A CRM-communications integration also saves time. When your staff can efficiently place an order or resolve an issue on behalf of your customers because they have that customer’s size, past orders, and other preferences on their screen, the customer can quickly move on with their day. Meanwhile, your staff is free to assist with other incoming calls. 

By integrating your technologies and setting up automated workflows like call logging you’ll be able to free up more of your agents’ time, enabling them to take more customer calls and avoid annoying tedious work. 

4. Easily Scale as You Grow

The 2021 holiday season won’t be the last time we see shoppers preferring online and phone-based orders to in-person sales. Data from Adobe Systems indicates that thanks to the pandemic, shoppers are likely to spend $1 trillion on goods and services purchased online in 2022. That being said, it’s more important than ever to ensure your store is set up for future success heading into the new year. 

A cloud-based communications system operates at lightning speed to help your retail empire manage call volume without compromising on customer service. Global VoIP providers can set your store up with additional phone numbers in a matter of minutes, not days. We’ve mentioned how workflows and integrations can give your agents the information they need when they need it. Call queuing and IVR routing quickly funnel customers to the right support person while helping you manage your agents’ time more productively. VoIP services also offer professional growth tools such as call coaching, call recording, and call whispering to help your reps learn from each other and from best/worst-case scenarios. 

Investing in the Right Communications Software for Your Retail or eCommerce Business

AVOXI’s comprehensive cloud-based VoIP communications platform for retail offers these services and more. AVOXI equips brick-and-mortar and online retail businesses like yours with a reliable global communications platform that scales as you grow. We offer leading technology that helps retail brands better connect with customers around the world through outstanding call quality, call recording, and call coaching features. Reach new markets without having to deal with multiple carriers through our robust inventory of hard-to-find virtual phone numbers. Seamlessly integrate your existing CRM, helpdesk, and webchat software with our SIP-based integrations to give everyone in your company a full view of customer preferences.

Become the retail empire known for amazing offerings and impeccable customer service with the help of AVOXI’s top-performing communications software for retail. Talk with one of our representatives to get started today.

 

Attract More Repeat Shoppers with Modern Communications Software

Stay connected with your local and international customers with a modern communications software platform that scales as you grow! With AVOXI’s award-winning platform, retail and eCommerce business leaders can seamlessly create a personalized shopping experience through CRM integration, intelligent routing configuration, and more to deliver top-notch service and grow sales.