As more consumers shop online, managing retail seasonality becomes ever more challenging. This shift requires anticipating demand and maintaining a flexible workforce during holiday surges—all while controlling costs and providing great service.
It’s easy to miss sales, especially online, when operations are too slow or customer interactions with reps take too long. Sluggish phone, email and chat responses cause consumers to drop off and buy elsewhere.
Last holiday season, CNBC reported: “Many online shoppers won’t wait five seconds for a page to load.”
Now just imagine how much patience consumers have once they finally get online—and need a customer service rep or salesperson? Cut any further delay with on-demand contact center agents who can quickly step in, elevate service and capture more business.
It’s a fact that in-house retail call centers cannot ramp up easily and economically for seasonal surges. They’re rigid. Call center agent talent is limited by local availability and driving distances; brick-and-mortar facilities are confined by physical footprints.
Plus, seasonal retail agents must be recruited and trained in short order. Then, as the holidays end, they’re let go—and with them goes a retailer’s labor investment. So there’s not much incentive in the long term for either the company or temp worker. As a result, customer service levels tend to suffer.
By contrast, a flexible workforce of remote contact center agents is designed to fluctuate with increased holiday traffic.
As online purchases increase, contact centers with scalable retail resources will enjoy a clear advantage. To match the fluidity of consumer shopping preferences requires what industry analyst Accenture calls a “liquid workforce,” stating: “…business leaders are realizing their new liquid workforce can become their new competitive advantage.”
As a virtual operation, a flexible workforce is made up of independent contractors, distributed nationwide. As on-demand agents, they’re ready to rapidly flex up or down—for holidays and on a daily basis.
Paid for their performance, these agents are measurably more responsive and productive. They deliver fast-flex solutions that meet spikes in consumer demands.
Not all call center agents are created equal. Remote, or work-at-home agents, tend to be more educated, experienced and mature. As professional agents, they choose the work and take ownership in a client’s business.
Their industry-specific skills—be they in sales, service or tech support—are reflected in business outcomes and customer success stories.
Being U.S.-based, these agents also identify with the cultural needs of consumers. In fact, agents are often customers of the companies they support. This personal connection, in turn, leads to more satisfied customers, increased sales and repeat business.