Is your customer service team ready for the holiday season?
A new report from chat software provider LiveChat provides some insight that can help you prepare. The report studied 8.8 million customer service chats from 1,400 ecommerce companies in 2015. The results were further segmented into off-peak (January - October) and peak (November - December).
The data reveals when customer chat volumes will be high and provides some tips for staffing to meet that demand. You can also use this data to improve service quality.
You can read the full report here or browse through a few highlights below.
Managing Volume Is Tricky
LiveChat's report reveals that the average company experienced a 63 percent chat volume increase in November and December.
That's not too surprising. The stat that really jumped out was that chats lasted an average of 1 minute longer in November and December (peak season). That jumped up to 1:23 longer on Cyber Monday.
Many customer service leaders will plan for the volume increase. The big question is whether contact centers will be prepared for longer chats.
The extra volume and longer chats means customers may have to wait longer for a live agent. LiveChat's data shows that it took 7 seconds longer for agents to respond to chats during peak season.
A 2015 report from Zendesk shows that customer satisfaction cliff dives after customers wait longer than 50 seconds for a chat response, so that extra 7 seconds can be a problem.
Predicting Peaks and Valleys
Not surprisingly, Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the two busiest days of the year for chat volume.
What happened next was a little surprising.
Chat volume dropped 53 percent the Saturday after Black Friday. For some contact centers, this may have meant being overstaffed if they planned for volumes similar to Black Friday.
Cyber Monday had 10 percent higher chat volume than Black Friday. But, look at LiveChat's graph and you'll see that volume dips but remains relatively high throughout the week. It's only the weekends when chat volume declines.
You may have similar peaks and valleys in your volume. It's a good exercise to look at your historical data to see when you need extra staff and when you don't. This is old hat to large contact centers, but smaller contact centers tend to keep a more static schedule from day to day.
Customer Satisfaction Dips Slightly
The increased volume takes a minor toll on customer satisfaction (CSAT) as survey scores dipped an average of just .7 percent during the November - December peak season.
Here are the averages from LiveChat's report:
- 87.1% - average CSAT during off-peak (January - October)
- 86.4% - average CSAT during peak (November - December)
Scores declined a bit more on the two busiest days:
- 85.8% - average CSAT on Cyber Monday
- 84.5% - average CSAT on Black Friday
To me, these stats can be misleading. It may seem that a small drop is OK, but this is a missed opportunity.
Holiday shopping is a stressful time for many customers. You can distinguish your company if you can find a way to alleviate some of that stress through fast, helpful service.
After all, you want your customers to remember you during the off-peak months of January through October.
What Should You Do?
It takes the average contact center three months to hire and fully train a new agent. That means it's probably too late to add staff now if you haven't already started.
But, there are still things you can do. I shared three tips for handling increased volume without adding extra staff in LiveChat's report.