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In just two weeks, the holiday shopping season will be in full swing. No other season impacts so many contact centers across so many markets quite like it.
To accommodate the volume of sales, returns, and customer service requests, most businesses will hire seasonal contact center staff. Some retailers choose to upgrade technology, moving their call center software to the cloud.

But the 2019 holiday season is shaping up to be one for the record books. To succeed, your contact center needs to prepare with the right strategies, data, and technology. When implemented correctly, they will help you deliver exceptional customer experiences all season.

Here are a few stats to keep in mind, along with tips to help your contact center adapt and respond.

Deliver convenience with self-service & skilled agents.
Convenience is a key differentiator this season. Customers want seamless experiences, one-click purchasing, and fast answers.

Integrating bots and self-service IVR in your contact center drives convenience by allowing customers to resolve common issues on their own.

With the rise of IVR and self-service, seasonal staff is no longer needed to handle “easy” interactions related to common requests or issues. Now, more seasonal staff roles are dedicated to handling complex customer issues and critical escalations.

Shift your hiring and training practices accordingly. Build a team of emotionally intelligent problem-solvers.

Meet customers on their channels of choice.
Salesforce reports that 64% of customers use multiple channels for single transactions, and last year, holiday traffic to digital sites from social media channels grew by 22% YOY.

Customers want to access to immediate information on whatever channel they choose. And they have a LOT of choices.

To meet customer demands, your contact center platform needs to support digital-first, omnichannel interactions. Your agents need to be trained in the art of multitasking to handle these interactions seamlessly.

Build a nimble team to adapt to micro-trends.
The 2019 holiday season is predicted to be a pressure-cooker for contact centers. To see why, take a look at these forecasts from Adobe Analytics:
• 30% of all Cyber Monday sales will likely be made in a single, four-hour window
• The 2019 holiday shopping season is six days shorter than last year’s
• For the first time, each day in November and December will see over $1 billion in online retail sales

Throughout the holiday period, contact centers will experience distinct micro-trends: changes in the types of customer interactions being handled and responses needed to address them. The changes happen almost overnight.

With a compressed 2019 holiday shopping calendar leading to earlier on-sale dates, contact centers will see major spikes in purchases and information requests leading up to the holidays. Once the gifting period is over, agents will be inundated with customer support inquiries and requests for returns or exchanges.

To adapt, ensure that you build a team of flexible, skilled agents. Stay nimble by equipping them with a powerful cloud platform to deliver exceptional omnichannel experiences to customers all season long.

Written by: Ginny Perkins | NICEinContact

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