Automation to Help Retailers Survive This Holiday Season, Says Verint

Each year's holiday season is a challenge for retailers. Unpredictable demands, surges in customer queries, and staff shortages put increased pressure on employees and customers alike.

Every day is an opportunity to delight your customers. Since many are in high spirits this time of year, there's all the more reason to put all CX efforts in full force.

However, this holiday season is slightly different due to economic headwinds so customers are thinking twice before they open their wallets. Expectations are at an all-time high and positive experiences - once again - prove critical when interacting with a company.

Staffing Challenges

While meeting changing customer expectations is a challenge in and of itself, new research from Verint reveals that US retailers are also struggling with filling seasonal staff vacancies in order to handle the holiday rush.

Fifty-three percent of retailers reported they are planning to hire more seasonal workers than last year, while 35% plans to hire about the same number of employees.

"Staffing shortages in stores, in the back-office, and contact center roles will challenge retailers in their efforts to provide exceptional customer experiences to satisfy shoppers during the busy holiday shopping season this year. Leveraging automation is absolutely critical to fill workforce gaps and create a connected customer engagement strategy of humans and bots,” says Jenni Palocsik, Vice President, Marketing Insights, Experience and Enablement, Verint.

Nearly 30 percent of companies said they do not have enough Human Resources (HR) staff to handle the number of vacancies that need to be filled. To combat this challenge, the report suggests that automation can take on interviewing and qualifying candidates for vacancies.

In addition, through AI screening companies can analyze candidates’ engagement, knowledge, and communication skills to help predict the suitability of someone for a role and even their likelihood to succeed.

Customer Engagement Automation

When it comes to company-wide use of automation, the report reveals that automation is used or planned for retail activities like tracking orders (81%), inventory management (81%), and sending customized offers or recommendations (79%).

Automation can also help with processing customer queries on various digital channels, delivering seamless experiences. Retailers are leveraging automation mostly for mobile apps (83%), then private messaging (81%), and email (71%).

Looking at the specific customer engagement use cases, the report found that retailers are, in fact, not maximizing the potential of automation and private messaging channels.

Despite 81% of respondents saying they either plan to or already automate order tracking, only 36% do so using private messaging channels. In a similar vein, only 38% of respondents use automation for customized offers on private messaging channels, while 39% do so for customer support.

To survive this year's "unique" holiday season, Verint recommends that retailers consider the following:

  • Automation of contact center operations, such as creating automated responses to common queries or deflecting conversations to FAQs or community forums
  • Employing intelligent hiring solutions for streamlined staff acquisition and assessment
  • Using bots to automate private messaging in areas such as customized offers and recommendations and returns
  • Meeting capacity through conversation containment.