If you thought getting toilet paper was tough last year, wait till you hear the forecast for supply chains and retailers with the onslaught of the delta variant this holiday season.
Deloitte predicts that E-commerce sales will increase by up to 15% this year, with sales reaching $218 billion! According to The New York Times, that equates to over 3 billion packages flowing through the U.S. shipping infrastructure.
Supply chains are scrambling in their holiday UGGs as they prepare for potential factory shutdowns, labor shortages, and port congestion that’s expected to last through the holidays and into 2022. Joanne Joliet, Head, Worldwide Business Development - Fashion & Apparel at Amazon Web Services (AWS) points out, “As holiday purchases accelerate digital commerce sales, there is greater demand for additional fulfillment options.”
Retailers worldwide are about to take on arguably the most chaotic seasonal peak in history while also balancing the evolution of consumer behavior and expectations. We did some research to explore the impact this holiday season will have on customer support teams.
Part II of The Pandemic: What Does It Mean For Customer Support Teams?
Supply-chain issues and shipping delays will impact every customer support team in retail with the potential of:
➡️ Product shortages
➡️ Order delays
➡️ Massive influx in tier 1 support tickets
➡️ Customer turnover
➡️ Damage to brand reputation (through angry and snarky social media posts)
Support teams have reported a 40% increase in customer contact volume since COVID-19 began and with the current supply chain data, this number won't decrease anytime soon. Being prepared to implement alternative solutions and service strategies can help mitigate the negative impact of supply-chain issues but knowing exactly how to do it is a challenge. We've uncovered 3 ways to be successful during the mess and stress of seasonal peaks.
3 Ways to Take On Supply Chain Issues During Peak Season
Here are the top 3 ways you can slay through supply chain issues this holiday season and beyond:
#1 Fa-la-la Forecasting
Forecasting is the real holiday hero during seasonal spikes.
As a guide, here are the 4 main ingredients for building a forecasting model of your own:
Source: Eazy Stock
“To help offset different issues, it’s important to bolster your planning and forecasting algorithms, and to pay close attention to how you are making your vendor workflow more efficient,” says Robert Gerwig, SVP of distribution and logistics at Sweetwater.
Instead of going through the pains of spreadsheets during the most hectic time of the year, we recommend using technology that delivers real-time data. This type of insight can send alerts and help you create reports based on daily, weekly, and monthly customer behavior. Some of the more innovative tools can also uncover CSAT trends, operational issues, and set up proactive fraud alerts.
#2 Avoid Caroling and Start Communicating
Supply chain issues are inevitable, but disappointing your customers isn't. Directly communicate with your customers through SMS or push notifications to guarantee visibility.
Set shipping expectations before customers check out so they understand that the gifts to their loved ones may not arrive on time. To be proactive, encourage your customers to get started on holiday shopping before November to avoid prolonged delays in delivery times.
Lastly, evaluate how easy it is for customers to get a hold of you. What does your omnichannel strategy look like? Creating a seamless 24/7/365 customer experience across devices and support channels is the key to being proactive and meeting customer demand. In fact, a recent Customer Experience Trends Report found that companies that provided omnichannel support had higher CSAT scores and quicker response times.
#3 Oh What Fun It Is to AI
Dan Mitchell, global director of retail & CPG points out, “Effective demand planning today requires high-speed decision making.”
Leveraging the power of AI can deliver high-speed decision-making while also alleviating pressure on your team by taking on high volumes of repetitive and transactional queries. By deploying an AI Agent, you can easily scale during rapid growth without driving up operational costs.
In fact, the famous retailer, Pura Vida, achieved a 55% decrease in customer wait times after deploying Thankful’s AI Agent in just 4 weeks! That’s faster than they could hire and train more staff or onboard with their existing BPO.
"I needed a smart and creative way to meet customer expectations, especially during spikes in demand. Through multichannel tech and unparalleled dedication, Thankful has found ways for Pura Vida to provide service that is even better than before."
- Nick Misewicz, Customer Success Manager, Pura Vida
Forecasting, proactive customer communications, and the application of AI automation across digital support channels are your answers to smooth seasonal spikes. Learn more about how to maintain a competitive support advantage in a fierce economy by connecting with Thankful today!
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