As 2017 begins to wind down, retailers are ramping up for the biggest shopping and consumer spending event of the year. However, the mad rush of Black Friday is no longer relegated to the physical retail locations. In fact, more people are eschewing the tradition of braving the big box stores and doorbuster events for the comfort and convenience of online shopping. According to a report from Salesforce, this year’s Black Friday event is projected to be the busiest digital shopping day in United States history, exceeding Cyber Monday for the most overall sales two years in a row.
And as digital purchasing reaches peak numbers from Thanksgiving through December, online retailers that rely heavily on SaaS and cloud services to keep up with the holiday rush have a lot to think about and plan for. Here are just a few tips and best practices retailers and IT organizations should take consider when delivering ITSM and digital services during the holiday season.
Provide an Excellent Customer Experience
During the holidays (beginning with Black Friday), help desk ticket volumes can increase upwards of 42%, putting immense pressure on the help desk staff to quickly and efficiently resolve both common and complex incidents. With this massive influx of end user requests, it is critical for ITSM organizations to take proactive measures in providing the best customer service it can. For the service desk, providing great customer service entails:
- Fast and efficient resolution of incident requests and support tickets
- Dissemination of knowledge via a self-service portal that’s easy to navigate and access
- FAQs and announcements that are regularly updated to inform end users of up-to-the-minute changes and feedback
- More access to support options via mobile, web, email, chat, chatbot, phone, etc.
- Real-time feedback and notifications regarding pending requests
Additionally, the service desk must prioritize the thoughts and feelings of the customer during the support process using techniques such as active listening, using a pleasant tone, being polite, etc.
Safeguard from Cyber Attacks
As holiday shopping continues to trend toward digital the digital space, criminals will set their sights on online portals and transactional data in an effort to defraud retailers and consumers alike. According the ThreatMatrix 2017 Q3 Cybercrime report, more than 171 million cyber-attacks were detected and stopped in this quarter alone, resulting in nearly a 100 percent increase since 2015. These attacks target various areas of eCommerce, from exploiting vulnerabilities during payment transactions, to accessing account login credentials, to causing data breaches that give admittance to sensitive user data (credit cards, addresses, social security, etc.). It goes without saying, that online retailers have a huge obligation to keep their customer data safe from scams and thieves.
In order to mitigate risk and minimize potential data vulnerabilities, retailers must be sure to follow and implement best practices to properly manage cyber resilience. Check out this helpful guide from AXELOS to learn industry-standard guidelines and procedures for ITSM, InfoSec, Risk Management and more.
Minimize Downtime and Unplanned Outages
Retailers must ensure minimum disruption of their IT infrastructure during peak buying times in order to meet projected sales goals. Unscheduled changes can cause havoc on the uptime and availability of critical IT services. For instance, an unplanned firmware change may cause point-of-sale pages to become unavailable to customers for hours or worse.
For this reason, it’s critical for retailers to strategically plan for scheduled IT changes, and set mandatory change blackout periods during the most key holiday buying periods. This small line item for change management goes a long way in keeping services available, as well as minimizing the risk of unplanned outages.
Leverage Smart Technology
One of the more recent advances in ITSM that has had a big effect in improving the overall quality of digital services, is the continuous innovation fueled by AI and smart technology. This is especially true for IT self-service, as AI-powered automation allows the help desk to more effectively serve a higher volume of support tickets with less reliance on staff resources.
One means of this accomplishing this is through the use of chatbots or virtual assistants on the self-service portal. These helpful AI bots provide end users a more natural, “human-like” experience when searching for answers on the Knowledge Base, announcements, FAQs, and so on. Chatbots can even provide automated assistance for low-level requests such as password resets.
By leaning on automation from AI, the service desk can more effectively reduce the number of low-level incidents and focus their time and energy on more complex requests to better serve their customers. This goes a long way in keeping up with the extra strain on the help desk during peak holiday shopping periods.