Unprecedented customer support traffic brings opportunity for businesses to win loyalty
By: Lance Rosenzweig, President & CEO, Support.com
Holiday shopping is already upon us, and it is certainly looking very different from last year. Financial analysis site, Stock Apps says coronavirus fears have accelerated online shopping, and unlike previous years where Black Friday typically sent droves of shoppers into big box stores, online sales that day hit a new record, a trend that is expected to continue through the holiday season.
E-commerce’s share of overall retail sales has seen steady growth over the past few years and, due to the global pandemic, it has gone up by 6% in Q2 2020 alone. Combine this with the upcoming holiday season where 75% of Americans are expected to shop online, and we’re already experiencing an unprecedented need for customer support for all those online shoppers. Additionally, RetailMeNot reports that 31% of people are shopping earlier to avoid shipping delays or inventory issues, meaning the traditional spike in customer support needs is also starting earlier than in previous years.
Customer support is quickly becoming the key differentiator among e-commerce retailers. Consistent, reliable, and on-demand customer service is a necessary element of any business looking to generate sales and develop long-lasting brand loyalty. Forbes research shows that 70% of customers will abandon their purchase if they have a bad customer service experience. With the holiday shopping already underway and online sales picking up speed, if online retailers cannot provide exceptional support to their customers, they will lose them. Are retailers and their customer support organizations ready for the surge?
Maybe not. Retailers that are using the same customer support tactics and solutions from the last holiday season, pre-pandemic, may find themselves in trouble and unable to meet the volume and quality demanded from e-commerce this year.
Traditional Outsourced Support Isn’t Enough This Season
One common way to prepare for the holiday surge was to expand support hours and temporarily add outsourced agents in the last quarter of the year, but the ongoing pandemic makes this option of limited use. The spokesperson for the National Association of Call Centers said that call centers pose a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 than typical offices because of the tight spaces, shared equipment, and volume of people cycling through during different shifts. To keep employees safe, many traditional call centers have implemented physical distancing policies and safety precautions that, unfortunately, have reduced overall capacity and output. With these measures still in place, supplementing existing customer service programs with additional staff in bricks-and-mortar centers, whether onshore or offshore, is not so simple, nor as available as it had been in previous holiday seasons.
Homesourcing: A Solution to This Holiday’s E-commerce Demands
What’s needed for this new ecommerce reality is homesourcing — a model that enables outsourced work to be delivered by employees working from home, while maintaining or even improving productivity. Homesourcing is truly effective when all a company’s processes, platforms, tools, and culture are redesigned to support work delivered from home. Support.com has been refining its homesourcing model over the last two decades, and as a result, we’ve been able to maintain always-on customer support to enterprises and retail customers alike.
With homesourcing, retailers can activate the customer support resources they need up to three times faster than hybrid or traditional call centers. That efficiency is achieved due to Support.com’s home-based agents who are already diversely skilled, globally distributed, and powered by a scalable platform with enhanced security specifically designed for the home environment. With no geographic constraints, Support.com can rapidly recruit and onboard hundreds of custom-profiled experts that meet a retailer’s specific skill set or experience requirements. Furthermore, the company’s platform enables flexible scheduling based on call arrival patterns and large scale, on-demand ramping during seasonal times. The homesourcing model dynamically captures financial and operational efficiencies for retailers, improving cost per call, while delivering superior customer experiences and high net promoter scores.
To make this possible, Support.com’s training and resources have been optimized and fine-tuned for the home-based environment. Support.com trains its customer support employees to become subject matter-experts using an experience-tested online content library built over the past two decades. After the initial training, employees are supported with the proprietary Guided Paths® platform, which uses branching logic and dynamic decision points for more efficient and smarter training. This investment in ongoing virtual learning allows Support.com to diversify its employees’ areas of expertise and reduce overall speed to competency, giving its experts everything that they need to resolve even complex issues swiftly and competently, with minimal holds and transfers.
The homesourcing model is uniquely positioned to meet the looming e-commerce customer service demands this holiday season and, more importantly, address modern customer support challenges across vertical markets. Unconstrained by brick-and-mortar facilities and geography, the homesourcing model is a virtual native, with the tools, training, and culture to match. When fully adopted, homesourcing is effective in mitigating risk, ensuring business continuity, and providing always-on customer support during the holiday season and beyond.
Think of this holiday as an opportunity to win loyalty with exceptional customer experiences for the many online shopping customers you’ll serve. If you’re in need of homesourced support to extend your customer support team this season and beyond, get in touch with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.