24th Nov 2016
Short-term gain can lead to long-term pain if retailers take the wrong approach to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That’s the message from The Institute of Customer Service ahead of two of the year’s biggest shopping events, which take place this Friday and next Monday.
The Institute’s Chief Executive, Jo Causon, warned that rapid-fire sales may shift stock, but they can also damage reputations. “One-off discounts might be attractive to some customers and perceived as an easy win for retailers, but in today’s uncertain economic climate, keeping customers happy is about more than just offering knockdown prices,” she said.
One in four customers are willing to pay more if it means getting a better service, found The Institute’s latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index. Causon noted: “With many fearing the prospect of diminished spending power post-Brexit, consumers are telling us that, increasingly, it is the overall customer experience that really matters.”
Coping with huge demand while maintaining high levels of customer service during the upcoming ‘flash sales’ represents a huge challenge for retailers. Black Friday is set to be bigger than ever this year, beating last year’s £2bn spent over the 24-hour period, while last year shops saw their daily sales average rise by 139 per cent on Cyber Monday – Black Friday’s online equivalent.
Satisfying customer demand
Extra staffing and stock will be essential to ensuring customer service levels don’t suffer on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but a number of major retailers, including Next and Primark, have chosen not to offer special discounts on these two days, instead spreading out discounts throughout the year – offering a less frenzied shopping experience for customers and making it easier for these retailers to satisfy customer demand.
“With Black Friday so heavily trailed by retailers, there remains the risk that some customers will be left disappointed if what they want sells out, or if poor technology hinders websites being able to cope with demand,” said Causon. “This kind of experience leads customers to vote with their feet, and ultimately it will be the organisations who put long-term profitability over short-term wins who thrive and enjoy the loyalty of satisfied customers.”