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Top Customer Service Issues and CustomerServ’s Call Center Expertise in the Catalog Industry

CustomerServ’s Catalog Call Center Outsourcers Have Staffing Flexibility in Their DNA 

Well over a century has passed since early mail-order catalogs forever altered consumers’ shopping habits by bringing the retail store conveniently into their homes. For years, retailers relied on direct-mail catalogs to market to consumers until the growth of e-commerce coupled with deep budget cuts during the Great Recession prompted many to transition to a digital format. However, in recent years, retailers have been discovering that traditional methods of reaching and interacting with consumers are not only viable, but they also help to differentiate brands in a crowded and competitive marketplace—especially among millennials.

While millennials’ desires and expectations have been the catalyst behind mobile shopping and digital channel adoption, it seems that this generation may also be responsible for a resurgence in direct-mail catalogs. Customer Focus Research by Quad Graphics shows that millennials enjoy the visual and tactile experience of flipping through a glossy print catalog more so than previous generations.1

Learn how we solved the seasonal staffing conundrum for a retail e-commerce  client.

Successfully creating brand awareness among consumers across age groups requires a careful blend of high-tech, traditional and personalization. Gone are the large-scale mailings of massive catalogs containing hundreds of products. In its place are mini- or micro-catalogs that contain only a handful of carefully curated products and pricing targeted toward smaller segments or even individual consumers. Modern catalogs bridge the print and digital channels. Many use QR codes to engage mobile shoppers and provide instant access to online ordering. And more recently, print catalogs combined with augmented reality (AR) apps allow shoppers to hover over a page with a smartphone to instantly access 3D images, additional information, click-to-buy, and even view the products in their own surroundings.

Catalog merchants face heavy competition and so the human touch plays a crucial role in customer satisfaction, especially among millennials.2

Top Customer Service Challenges for the Catalog Industry

As customer expectations continue to rise, the customer service experience has to be exceptional. Consumers have many options available today; they’re not likely to wait in a lengthy phone or chat queue to get their questions answered or to place an order. Top customer service challenges for catalog companies are:

  • Seasonal contact volume -- The ability to quickly ramp up and down to handle peak periods caused by holiday shopping, seasonal spikes volume or special promotions requires considerable internal resources (e.g., recruiting, screening, interviewing, onboarding, training, forecasting and workforce planning).
  • Seasonal staffing -- Finding, hiring and retaining skilled call center agents to cover peak demand periods is challenging because experienced sales and service agents seek permanent full-time positions rather than short-term engagements.
  • In-house space limitations -- Providing accommodations (space, equipment) in-house or expanding in-house call center capacity for additional seasonal staff is expensive.
  • Impact on leadership and productivity -- Managing seasonal peaks distracts leaders from focusing on their key roles and, as a result, the core business often suffers.

CustomerServ’s Call Center Vendors Are Masters of Seasonal Staffing

CustomerServ’s hand-selected catalog call center outsourcing vendors provide dynamic staffing models that deliver sales, quality and a superior customer experience. Our vendors have mastered seasonal and creative staffing models enabling our clients to ramp up and down seamlessly as needed. The secret sauce for catalog and seasonal staffing includes:

  • Counter-cyclical clients which enable our vendors to pull from existing agent resources for ramp ups and repurpose the agents after ramp down
  • Shared agent staffing for less complex and transactional call types, shorter training times
  • Dedicated agent staffing for more complex call types and longer training times
  • Semi-shared agent staffing allowing a team of shared agents to support dedicated agents for any spillover, overflow or dramatic spikes
  • Blended agent staffing allowing a client approved combination of multiple staffing models
  • Blended-shore agent staffing allowing retailers to use both onshore and off/nearshore call center resources to reduce outsourcing costs

CustomerServ’s Best in Class Retail Call Center Vendors Provide the Following Services:

  • Brick & mortar and work-at-home call center solutions
  • On-demand and flexible staffing
  • Seasonal staffing ramps & spikes
  • Steady state staffing
  • Customer service
  • Inbound sales
  • Outbound sales
  • Membership and loyalty programs
  • Live chat & Email support
  • Mobile App Support
  • SMS support
  • Social media support
  • Data entry and back office support
  • Sales support
  • Order processing
  • Order fulfillment
  • Billing and adjustments
  • US-based, nearshore and offshore support
  • Site based and work-at-home agents
  • PCI compliant call centers
  • Bi-lingual and multi-lingual call centers

More than half (54%) of millennials say they love, and look forward to, receiving retail catalogs; 40% say they buy more from companies when they receive a catalog; and 38% reported that a catalog recently drove them online to shop. In addition, while 50% of millennials say they ignore digital ads, only 15% say that they ignore direct mail.

2 A recent Retail Trends Report by InMoment found that 65% of millennials value interacting with staff who are knowledgeable about products and services, recognize past purchasing patterns and needs, and are aware of their loyalty membership status.