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How retailers can guarantee a stellar customer experience — even during the peak season

How retailers can guarantee a stellar customer experience — even during the peak season

Ruth Peters
23rd November 2020

10 times. That’s how much your website traffic could surge this peak season.

And when demand spikes, how well will your systems take the strain? A failing server, buggy payment processor, or absentee chatbot might not be a big deal on an average Tuesday. But on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? It can cost you big time.

Here’s how to deliver a seamlessly stellar customer experience, even when your resources are maxed out.

1.     Stress-test, stress-test, stress-test

Technical issues totally overshadow a well-planned peak season campaign strategy.

And nobody is immune. Even big companies, like Costco, can lose millions if their website unexpectedly goes down. But interruptions to the on-site experience don’t just lose you sales, they damage your brand’s reputation (and may end up as viral news, too).

So before peak season really hits, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and take the journey yourself. Plot out the critical path — from landing page to checkout — and ensure that everything is firing as expected.

The specific factors to check might not always be obvious, so here’s a quick cheat-sheet:

  • Is your cross-device experience working? Consumers have more choice than ever before when it comes to screens and devices. And, as a result, this peak season will likely see more omnichannel activity than ever before. Your CX should empower the shopper to hop from desktop to mobile site (and maybe even back again), while keeping their cart and other settings in place.

  • Are discount codes ready to go? At UserReplay, we talk about customer experience in “struggle” and “success”. And during peak season there’s no bigger struggle than discount codes that fail to apply. Confirm that every new discount code works as it should. And do a search for any discount codes in circulation already.

  • Can your 3rd-party services handle the strain? Peak season requires everyone to step up. To avoid disappointment and last-minute panic, speak with your 3rd-party services (like tracking solutions) — can you be sure their servers won’t buckle when it comes to the crunch?

2.     Resolve any usability issues

Some technical issues will always be beyond your control. But your website’s usability is one thing you can take full ownership of.

The weeks (and even days) leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday should be used to  assess how usability is impacting your customer experience. Even the smallest struggle can cause users to click off a page, so it’s vital that your browsing and checkout flows are as seamless as possible.

We’ve already taken a deep-dive into this topic on the blog, so be sure to take a look for more valuable insights. But these are the highlights you need to know:

  • Poor scannability
  • Contact info that’s hard to find
  • Clunky search experience
  • Overly lengthy checkout
  • Lagging system response times

Not sure how your website is performing right now against these criteria? UserReplay can help you identify, and isolate, any usability issues — giving you time to solve them, before the peak of peak season comes around.

3.     Level-up your frontline support team

During peak demand, your customer service team will be under increased pressure to monitor inbound messaging and give shoppers the information and resolutions they need. But what happens when service agents are under-tooled and run off their feet? The standard of their service will drop, and the customer experience will suffer as a result.

The key here is to get ahead of the game.

A support team that’s insufficiently trained in what to expect during peak season will almost certainly fall apart when the pace picks up. If you haven’t already briefed your agents on  worst-case scenarios and how to handle them, you need to act now.

It’s also important to automate wherever possible. This might mean deflecting tickets with helpful help center articles, implementing AI chatbots, or any other means of managing the inflow of support requests.

4.     Give struggling customers a voice

Your customer service reps are experts at handling customer queries. They’re also well trained in making the customer feel heard. But when they’ve got more in-bound messages than they can handle, and your chatbots are being used to field queries not complaints, you need another way to gather feedback.

Post-purchase surveys are good, but they also rely on shoppers recounting their experiences (something we’re not too great at, as human beings). You also risk irritating customers further by asking them what went wrong in your on-site experience.

The answer? Ask them in the moment.

How? With UserReplay’s Active Feedback tool.

Our on-site feedback widget is always available for shoppers to share their feedback. You benefit from authentic, in-the-moment insights, and they feel their voice is really being heard.

5.     Deploy a digital safety net

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

While Robert Burns couldn’t even have conceived of Black Friday and Cyber Monday when he wrote this line, his warning is surprisingly apt for peak season preparation. It doesn’t matter how much you plan, something will probably still go wrong.

And when technical errors or usability flaws do raise their head, UserReplay is there to spot them.

With UserReplay’s AI-powered analytics software, you can analyze peak season trading issues as they happen. One user struggling with payment? The issue’s probably with them. But when numerous customers come up against the same problem, that’s when you need to pay attention.

Here’s how UserReplay can help:

  • Real-time recording captures genuine user behavior in the moment. Follow their movements, watch their clicks, see where they succeed (and where they struggle).
  • Session replays allow you to revisit exactly what went wrong, and see it through the eyes of the customer.
  • Advanced analytics with automated detection delivers far deeper insights than free solutions. Better still, we’ll automatically notify the right person from your team. That’s the fastest way to resolve issues and recapture sales.
  • Impact analysis helps you to triage website problems and plug the biggest gaps, before they get any bigger.

Achieve peak performance this peak season

Cyber Weekend is always a massive opportunity for retail brands. But in 2020, it’s even more important to convert — and end the year on a high.

To put yourself in prime position this peak season, arrange your free UserReplay demo today.


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