Contact Centers Prepare for a Blockbuster Shopping Season

In the call center business, we know it’s never too early to start preparing for the 2015 holiday season.

And consumers are no different. According to a survey by, 14 percent of U.S. consumers–that’s 32 million adults–have already kicked off their holiday shopping. A smaller percentage–2 percent–are way ahead of the game. These early birds, numbering about 5 million consumers, have already made their holiday purchases!

There are several drivers of early holiday shopping. For one, consumers say they like this extra window of time to comparison shop and save money. Also, retailers are encouraging spending by starting holiday promotions a couple weeks earlier than compared to the last five years, according to a holiday trend study by Centro, Inc.

Some big product releases will also capture the imaginations and dollars of consumers. On Christmas wish lists are Apple’s new iPhone and iPad line-up; and the Star Wars line of merchandise, featuring the highly desired BB-8 droid, is expected to generate $3 billion in sales in 2015, according to Piper Jaffray analysts.

It’s all expected to add up to a joyous holiday season for U.S. retailers. eMarketer forecasts retail sales to jump nearly 6 percent over last year, reaching $885.70 billion.

Another trend we’ll see more of this year is a big holiday marketing push through mobile channels. A study from Listrak found that 20 percent of consumers plan to do some holiday shopping by tablet or smartphone. Consumers will also do plenty of research using their mobile devices before making a purchase online or in a brick-and-mortar store. During the holiday 2014 season, about 30 percent of retailers’ web traffic came from mobile devices, according to the MCM Holiday Benchmark Survey.

Contact center managers will be tasked with staffing a sufficient number of trained agents this holiday season, with the ability to handle customer service issues in both English and Spanish and through multiple channels, including voice, email and Web chat.

2015 is poised to deliver a blockbuster shopping season requiring outstanding customer service and support before, during and after the sale. Here’s a quick round-up of facts, figures and predictions to help you plan your customer service strategies for the holiday season.

• U.S. retail sales during the months of November and December 2015 will jump 5.7 percent over 2014, reaching $885.70 billion. (eMarketer forecast)

• 56 percent of consumers say issues with shipping or delivery are the primary reasons for contacting customer service during the holidays. (CFI Group/eBay Enterprise survey)

• Late deliveries can cause 56 percent of consumers to not shop with the responsible retailer in the future. (CFI Group/eBay Enterprise survey)

The post 2015 Holiday Season Outlook for Customer Service appeared first on Call Center Insights.

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