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Scale Now, Surge Later: Prepare Your Multilingual CS for Black Friday / Cyber Monday Peak


Black Friday / Cyber Monday (BFCM) is like the Olympics for retail customer service teams — a test of endurance, flexibility, and balance as companies strive to bring their A-game when handling significant spikes in demand

Retail brands that want to bring home the gold should start limbering up now to ensure they are in peak form for what could very well be a historic holiday shopping season across the globe. Cross-border ecommerce has taken off since the beginning of the pandemic, leading to sky-high sales during the holidays: Salesforce reported between November 1 and December 31, 2021, consumers around the world spent a record-breaking $1.14 trillion online. 

Explore our top tips for getting your retail company’s global customer support team primed and ready for BFCM success.  

Easily scale support in regions where BFCM deals are popular 

For retailers serving a global audience, the challenge of BFCM preparation is compounded by the fact that you must forecast demand across multiple languages — some of which you may be supporting for the first time. Non-native English speaking countries that are keen on searching for BFCM deals include: 

  • Germany 

  • Brazil 

  • Spain 

  • France 

  • The Netherlands 

  • Poland

  • Italy 

  • India 

Having to scale your support teams up and down to accommodate seasonal demand in these regions is difficult for several reasons, including: 

  1. Underestimating the amount of temporary staff needed in a language can overload year-round employees, leading to higher rates of burnout and attrition. 

  2. Having to source agents who speak your target languages and have technical expertise related to your products (ticking both of these boxes is harder than it sounds). 

  3. Long-tail languages (those with a lower support volume) can be expensive to hire for — if you’re even able to find native language agents who specialize in retail support. 

Instead of burdening yourself with these hiring challenges, what if you could maximize the value of the resources you already have at your disposal? Essentially reducing complexity in training, quality assurance, and knowledge across multiple languages. Rather than having to hire three different people to support three different languages, you can equip one agent with multilingual superpowers so they are able to accommodate multiple languages at once, all while maintaining the high-quality customer experience (CX) your customers have come to expect. It’s possible!
 

Real-world example: Retail customers deserve a CX that’s just as luxurious and comfortable as the products they purchase. That’s why online fashion retail platform FARFETCH tapped Unbabel to relieve pressure on their customer service team of 15 agents, as they serve customers in more than a dozen languages.

Explore how FARFETCH was able to flexibly allocate resources during peak seasons such as BFCM, while maintaining their same great CSAT scores. This has helped their team significantly improve turnaround times for support queries while reducing agent workload which is mission-critical in the retail industry where customers demand a response and resolution ASAP. 


Rapid responses in customer service have become the baseline for a strong CX. Freshworks’ Future of CX: 2022 analysis of 107 million customer interactions notes the massive shift to digital channels in recent years has led to an expectation of faster service: 80% of customers now demand quicker responses from the businesses they frequent.  

Achieve the perfect blend of speed and quality for BFCM support 

In addition to speed and efficiency, quality is another vital customer support factor to be mindful of around the holidays. Are your customers satisfied with the level of service they are receiving from your company? 

The Zendesk ​​Customer Experience Trends 2022 report uncovered a disconnect between retail brands’ self-evaluation and how consumers perceive the quality of their support. The report found that 62% of retailers give themselves high marks for the quality of their service, yet over half (54%) of consumers say customer service feels like an afterthought for most of the brands they do business with. 

Having made the decision to adopt translation technology for increased agility and more efficient resource allocation, consider how your business and its translation partner will work together to ensure that support conversations fulfill customers needs, based on each query’s content and context.  

We have learned through years of research and hands-on experience that customers' expectations for support communications usually depend on the channel they use. For example, because shoppers anticipate a fast response when looking to resolve an issue (a return, a refund, a shipping hiccup) via live chat, these simple translations can be largely handled by autonomous AI and delivered within seconds.  

With email, however, support queries are likely to be longer and more nuanced. That’s why Unbabel sends every email machine translation to our community of editors for a quality check to account for things like cultural and regional preferences (with translations still being delivered within minutes). 

Fast, high-quality email responses are absolutely critical during BFCM: An analysis of BFCM 2021 by RetailWit and Zoho discovered that email is the number one channel customers prefer during the holidays, accounting for over 90% of all tickets raised. 
 

Real-world example: As a high-end fashion retail platform for brands like Gucci, Chanel, and Burberry, FARFETCH serves customers who expect nothing less than premium quality in their support conversations. As such, delivering a superior native-language CX has always been the company’s top priority. 

After switching from their previous translation service to Unbabel, FARFETCH saw their translation quality rating improve from 4.5 to 4.8 stars out of 5. Additionally, the increased agent capacity and productivity now allows their team to give each customer the specialized attention they desire. This also makes things easier for agents and helps them take control of their work. Previously, their team had to deal with backlogs of three to four days; with Unbabel, translations take less than 10 minutes, helping them minimize backlogs across more than 12 languages. 


After BFCM, use customer service as a year-round growth lever 

The beauty of adopting a versatile language solution is that there are a number of ways retail brands can use this technology to drive value year-round. 

Gartner’s 2022 Customer Service Trends and Priorities survey found that the top two priorities for today’s customer service leaders are 1) growing the business and 2) improving operational excellence. In addition to helping retailers handle seasonal demand spikes like BFCM, invest in ways that help your business test out new markets and capitalize on demand, as well as streamline operations and reduce costs

One of the key reasons companies have seen success across a variety of use cases is because modern translation solutions integrate seamlessly into your agents' existing workflows in popular CRMs like Zendesk, Salesforce, and Freshdesk. Getting your team up to speed doesn’t involve an extensive onboarding process. In fact, making your reps instantly multilingual with AI-powered language translation is so easy it actually lowers costs by reducing the amount of hours required for training activities. 

You may also have untapped opportunities for customer self-service based on common questions and challenges. In the Gartner survey mentioned above, 74% of customer support leaders said they believe creating a consistent customer journey across assisted and self-service channels is “important” or “very important.” FAQ translations aid in creating a consistent CX from webpage to check-out to customer support, across all languages and channels. 
 

Real-world example: Like other modern retailers, FARFETCH approached Unbabel with an ambitious goal of transforming their customer support department from a cost center to a profit center. Using an out-of-the-box integration with Salesforce Service Cloud, the company was able to quickly free up agent bandwidth to make the team much more dynamic.  

FARFETCH can now solve complex customer support problems and drive tangible value by:

• Optimizing resource allocation to account for seasonal surges like BFCM 

• Cost-effectively handling higher volumes of multilingual support 

• Achieving reduced go-to-market time and recruitment costs when scaling into new regions


See how Unbabel can supercharge your retail support 

If you are a retailer looking to set your customer support team up for a successful and stress-free BFCM, Unbabel is the answer. We have a great deal of experience helping brands in the retail industry increase support efficiency and adapt to spikes in demand while meeting goals for response and resolution metrics. 

Schedule a demo now and see for yourself how Unbabel can supercharge your retail customer support ahead of the holiday season. 

About the Author

Deon Wagener is a Senior Customer Success Manager at Unbabel. He brings a solid background in customer success to the team and works hard to develop meaningful relationships with clients. As a trusted advisor to numerous customers, including enterprise accounts, Deon has helped them leverage their systems to the fullest.

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