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Cyber Monday Lessons for All Call Centers

Whether you're a retailer or an insurance provider, there are lessons to be had from this year’s Cyber Monday results. Staffing, self-service, customer preferences...it’s all here.

Cyber Monday 2011 online sales reached 18% of retail purchases, with 11.7% of those shoppers using mobile devices to visit a retailers website and 6.4% using their mobile devices to make a purchase, according to the IBM Coremetrics Benchmark updates for the post-Thanksgiving online retail bonanza. However, 76% of top retailers failed to deliver a seamless online customer experience, according to a joint study by STELLAService, an independent company that evaluates customer service, and Compuware Corporation, a technology performance company.

Every organization that offers customer self-service -- retail, insurance, finance, etc. – can learn from the six retailers that earned high marks in the STELLA/Compuware study.

What you have to know is what Amazon, Avon, L.L. Bean, Macys, Overstock, and Sears did right.

Technology Preparedness

Self-Service success begins with making sure that your organization’s self-service offerings are accessible and reliable. Know which transactions can be successfully completed in a self-service environment and make sure that the transaction logic is in place. You'll also need intelligence on when customer usage might spike so that traffic doesn’t overload your site and slow it down – or worse, bring it down altogether.

Strategic Intelligence

If the contact center owns the self-service experience, it’s got to be able to communicate with other business units and have a host of historical data from which to gather the intelligence it needs to prepare for online demand. Communication includes working with sales and marketing divisions to understand the content and timing of promotions – think Cyber Monday sales for retailers or open enrollments for health insurers. Historical data, of course, can inform your expectations for any given cycle and help you prepare and test self-service offerings.

Staffing: Workforce Management Intelligence

Event the best-laid plans fail, however, so it’s important to have the contact center prepared for overflow and assistance. If your center’s not staffed to help in a timely manner, you’ll frustrate your customers (or worse, lose them to a competitor). With the use of mobile devices for self-service, customers may face unique challenges completing self-service transactions, which may result in an increase in agent-assisted self-service demand. A workforce management strategy that focuses on ensuring that the center meets service level consistently at the incremental level in peak and trough times, as well as anticipating contingencies around self-service, is critical.