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Farfetch & Unbabel on Navigating Surges in Customer Service Requests

Customer Contact Week: Digital Europe Recap

For customer success teams, it’s common to experience spikes in customer service requests, typically during seasonal holidays, product launches, or even times of crisis. Responding to and resolving these support tickets in a timely manner is critical to delivering an exceptional customer experience. 

Recently, at Customer Contact Week: Digital Europe, I had the pleasure of paneling a webinar about navigating surges in customer service (CS) requests. Joining me was Rogério Correia, Head of ROI & Optimization at Farfetch, an online luxury fashion retail platform that sells products from over 700 boutiques and brands located around the globe.

Throughout the 30-minute discussion, Rogério and I chatted about anticipating surges, empowering support agents, and using technology to improve the employee and customer experiences. Enjoy highlights from our conversation below.

Anticipating surges

As a luxury fashion retail platform, Rogério says that Farfetch must be well attuned to the holiday seasons when demand at the company spikes. This goes beyond just Black Friday and Christmas in the West to include holidays like Ramadan in the Middle East, and the Chinese New Year. Farfetch looks at data and analytics from previous years around those times to build forecasting models so they can adequately staff up support agents. 

“Our customers are quite demanding, and we aim to have a luxury service, so anticipating and forecasting is key,” Rogério says.

The company also must be aware of product launches, which typically doesn’t give them a long lead time compared to a predictable holiday. They might only have a week to prepare for the release of new Air Jordans, and, again, will look at relevant analytics to determine just how much support staff will be needed to ensure a good customer experience. 

Part of creating that wonderful experience involves allowing customers to interact with agents in their local language, and here is where Unbabel comes into play

In addition to allowing agents to reply in the local language, Unbabel provides metrics that enable companies like Farfetch to identify those periodic spikes in customer service requests as well as the support channels (email, chatbot, etc) that customers prefer to use in different markets. Equipped with this knowledge, businesses can make sure that each channel is properly staffed in the run-up to a surge. And since agents can field requests from anywhere in the world, businesses can allocate them in a more flexible way.

Empowering agents 

Rogério mentions that when it comes to providing support, Farfetch places customers into one of three buckets: Self-service, digital package, and human support. 

  • With self-service, customers are able to resolve their problems through the app or website with no human intervention. 

  • Digital package means that the customer can do certain activities on their own, but might need some human assistance. 

  • Human support is for when technology alone can’t handle a certain request, such as a recommendation for what outfit and purse combination would be best for a specific event.

Fafetch prepares their agents by training them on how to provide the human touch when necessary, or demonstrate to customers how to resolve their own issues using self-service means in the future. 

This empowerment starts with giving agents the right tools to do their job. These could be AI-based tools that can identify where to route certain calls to match reps with customers who speak the same language, or integrating multilingual machine translation tools that can seamlessly help reps and customers communicate regardless of the language. 

“The best that we can do… is make sure that all of our agents have the most optimized tools that they can use so they can feel confident and comfortable in tackling any issue that the customer might bring forward,” says Rogério. 

He advises that listening to agent feedback can do wonders for improving their productivity. It could be a simple software design change such as moving a button from one side of the screen to another, which would have no impact on the company’s strategic approach, but make the job of an agent more pleasurable. 

The risk of not listening to agents is an increase in employee turnover. Rogério highlights he has seen firsthand that agents will leave a job because of dissatisfaction with their tools. “The tools play a massive role in their happiness and the fulfillment that they have in doing their job.” 

Rogério emphasized that asking employees to share their thoughts and pain points, either directly and/or through anonymous surveys, is crucial in improving employee, and, ultimately customer, satisfaction. 

Tools that fit the brand

As Head of ROI and Optimization, Rogério is always weighing the costs and benefits of investments — particularly technological investments. He analyzes how a particular software will help optimize visitor conversion rates, reach new customers, and how it might exert a non-financial impact on the customer journey, the employee experience, or even the brand image. 

And speaking of brand image, in the Q&A section of the webinar, we received the question: How does an AI translation tool take into account terminology and brand tone of voice?

I shared with attendees that at Unbabel, we don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather, train our machine translation engine and human translators on terminology and the brand voice used within each individual organization. By customizing Unbabel’s translations for each specific company, we can guarantee that support agents are able to deliver clear, on-brand communication, and a great customer experience. 

Delve even deeper into handling customer support surges with our Scale Now, Surge Later: Prepare Your Multilingual CS for Black Friday / Cyber Monday Peak.

About the Author

Melanie Hornig is Vice President of Sales at Unbabel. With 15 years of experience in tech and software sales, Melanie brings to the table extensive knowledge of both industries and has a proven history of achieving and exceeding company goals.

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