Everyone wants to increase sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You’ve probably been focused heavily on your marketing plans of how to drive traffic, determining the best offers to make, and setting up all your campaigns to work together to drive sales.
But how are you preparing for the customer service spike that’s going to happen?
- Depending on how successful your sales efforts are, simply having your existing teamwork harder is not enough.
- Plus, a bad customer service experience during Black Friday and Cyber Monday can kill your brand, hurting future sales.
All of this is tough every year with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but it’s harder now with the problems Covid has caused. Labor shortages and difficulties with employee attrition make it tough to be able to rely on staffing up. Also, it’s still unclear what effect vaccine mandates will have on companies you may depend on (3PLs, staffing agencies, etc.).
Managing your customer service operation is much easier if you have established processes and metrics. This also applies to hiring and training, as it is much easier to hire and train quickly if you have a strong process for it. This makes Q4 much easier to handle.
At HelpFlow, we provide 24/7 live chat and customer service teams to over 100 stores. Our team of agents is available to handle questions of our customers, which results in increased sales, happier customers, and a much easier business to manage.
This will be our 6th Black Friday Cyber Monday at HelpFlow. In this post, we’re going to share the lessons we’ve learned over the years that you can use to make this Black Friday easy (and successful).
Forecast Customer Service Volume
It can be tough to know in advance how many agents you will need to handle the customer service workload in Q4. If you are overstaffed, you waste money, but if you are understaffed, you can end up producing really bad customer experiences or have your team revolt. Neither option is good.
The solution is to forecast the customer service headcount you need to handle the volume. This sounds tough, but here’s the process we’ve seen work well over the years.
- Determine your “ticket ratio,” which is the % of orders that turn into tickets. For example, if you get 30 tickets for every 100 sales. Then, your ticket ratio is 30%.
- Then forecast your ticket volume for Q4 by using your sales forecast. If you forecast an additional 10,000 orders with a 30% ticket ratio, then you’ll have 3,000 additional CS tickets to manage.
- Determine the ticket capacity that each agent can handle and use that to determine the total # of agents needed to manage the Q4 forecasted ticket volume.
As with many things in e-commerce, knowing your numbers is key. Use the above #s to predict the number of agents you need so you can hire in advance and be ready (without overstaffing).
How To Hire Agents Quickly
Even if you know how many additional customer service agents you need to hire for Q4, hiring agents quickly can be incredibly challenging — especially in this market. With that said, there are several things you can do to drive additional applicants and efficiently screen applicants so you can find good hires quickly.
Here’s what we’ve seen work well after hiring 100s of agents in competitive markets:
- Create compelling job postings that sell the role and syndicate those across multiple job boards, social media groups, etc. Don’t just post a boring “CS Agent Wanted” post on Indeed or other job boards. Sell how great it is working at your company, how you set agents up for success, and potential growth opportunities too. Then “market” that job post the same way you’d market your products- post to job boards, run ads on those job boards, share to social media groups to find people that are currently employed, etc.
- Automate initial screening with strategically worded application questions, on-demand video recording interview platforms, and other ways to screen a large number of applicants rapidly. This will enable you to take the huge volume you get from your job post and see which candidates are worth interviewing.
- From there, you can interview applicants directly on live chat to see how they operate in a customer service environment. Of course, you’ll need to interview them live, but starting on live chat and giving them mock scenarios is a great way to see someone “work” in the job before you hire them.
This gets you to the point where you know the number of agents you need and have people ready to hire.
How to Train Agents Easily for Q4
Having people ready to hire doesn’t mean they’re ready to provide an awesome customer experience for your brand. You need to be able to train agents quickly to handle the customer service workload that is coming in.
We’ve hired 100s of agents and are incredibly process-driven, especially since we have to train across 100s of different brands. Here are some training insights you can use to train your agents MUCH easier.
- Have a self-paced/self-guided training process the agents go through. Rather than doing custom one-on-one training, create training videos and structure these into modules that new hires go through to learn.
- Integrate “side by side” sessions with experienced agents so new hires can see how to apply what they’ve learned, apply it directly with the help of an experienced agent, and then ultimately be ready to work on their own.
- Lastly, separate “system training” vs. “product training.” For example, training on how to return orders, how to manage tickets, etc. is much different from the nuances of your product and how it works. Separate these into other training sessions with different side-by-side sessions so that agents can instill what they’re learning.
- Quantify the metrics of a successful agent across ticket capacity, handle time, and customer satisfaction. That way, you can measure someone to know when they’re truly “ready” to start handling real tickets at scale.
By systematizing the training process and making it mostly self-guided, you can get multiple agents up to speed much quicker.
Want to REALLY Make Q4 Easier and More Profitable?
At HelpFlow, we provide 24/7 live chat and customer service teams to over 100 e-commerce stores. Not only can we help predict and recover abandons and drive more conversions with our 24/7 live chat team, but we can also supplement your existing customer service team with amazing agents (or run the entire customer service operation for you).
We’ve been through 5 Black Friday’s and can help you make this your easiest (and most profitable) season so far.
It all starts with a full-scale Customer Service Audit. We’ll evaluate the volume, process, and capacity of your current CS operation and make specific recommendations on how to improve. Even if we don’t end up working together, you’ll get a ton of value by going through the process.
Book a time with our team here
Jon Tucker is CEO of HelpFlow, a provider of 24/7 live chat and customer service teams for 100+ eCommerce stores. Launched in 2015, their team of agents has produced nearly $100M in chat revenue for a wide range of stores using a conversion-focused approach to live chat.
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