Panic stations, and why retailers must plan and prepare
It’s a sad but true fact that since the Covid pandemic and numerous lockdowns took hold in the UK during 2020, our high streets have remained quieter than normal, with the traditional hustle and bustle nothing like pre-pandemic levels.
Whist it is fantastic to see our town centres and shopping malls gradually seeing more footfall, it is also clear that we will see a continued trend for online shopping by consumers eager to bag an early Christmas deal, secure that special gift, or generally craving to be more prepared with various product shortages expected.
Are we looking at a situation where, in the run up to Christmas and the New Year, we will see an unprecedented collapse in customer service as the perfect storm of supply shortages, lack of staff and a surge in demand for online shopping increases?
The answer to that question is yes, we absolutely are. Retailers are under pressure like never before and it could be a Christmas where many scramble to avoid brand damage that can come from poor customer service.
This pressure situation is underlined by our own latest poll we conducted on LinkedIn, which showed that almost 20% of consumers are looking to start their Christmas shopping earlier this year – especially utilising the increasingly popular deals that ‘Black Friday’ always brings for toys, technology, clothing and homewares.
That’s a telling statistic as it highlights the early season dangers on retailers and their under-staffed customer service teams who are already under strain behind the scenes and on the customer-facing side – not to mention the stresses on their IT logistics infrastructure with around 90% of retailers admitting recently that their e-commerce capabilities haven’t kept pace with trends during the pandemic.
But there are options for retailers who are teetering on the brink of a customer service disaster ahead of Christmas.
To support this worrying issue, and to head off problems, here at Sigma Connected we are actively helping retailers over the coming weeks and months.
We are assisting them to think ahead and if needed, do things differently by outsourcing part of their customer service function to experts like ourselves to take the pressure off and ultimately, to lessen the load and ensure you keep your strong brand reputation intact.
So, what is it we can offer retailers as these key consumer touchpoints approach? As a well-established outsourcer across the energy, utilities, financial services and retail markets, with almost 3,000 employees, across both UK and offshore destinations, our support includes:
- General customer service enquiries – via both voice and live chat
- Order taking and fulfilment (Inbound & Outbound)
- Client retention
- Collections support across the full payment cycle
- Vulnerable customer identification and support
- Complaint handling and escalation
We pride ourselves on being agile and adaptable to our client’s requirements and have a great track record in supporting the following:
- Scaling teams from 0-250 FTE within 14 days – where and when required
- Ability to scale both onshore and offshore operations in parallel, to maximise speed, efficiency, and cost.
- Providing complete flexibility, increasing and reducing team size depending on weekly forecast demand
- PMO supporting the onboarding of campaigns and hand over to senior account managers
- Microsoft BI reporting capability to ensure clear and accurate reports and KPI monitoring
Customer service teams and a personal service will be a vital component this Christmas, and in the lead up, a fact also backed up by a recent study conducted by software provider Stella Connect. This highlighted that 80% of consumers prefer direct voice contact with the seller or retailer. Again, this is very telling as it points to the need to have your brand protected by a real and empathetic human voice – key for trust and also for reputation when issues need to be resolved.
We want to use our expertise to help retailers – mainly as we have a track record and experience where we know we can add value, confidently support customers and protect reputations at a time when the sector will, like it or not, be under the microscope for the quality of service they provide.
Let us help you and your team get ready for Christmas.
Get in touch with us today and Jordan will be in contact