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What to Expect from 2021 Holiday Shoppers

The National Retail Federation predicts that nearly 2 million more people than last year will shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year. But what does holiday shopping look like nearly two years into a pandemic? Five9 recently released its Customer Service Index: Retail and eCommerce Edition, revealing some anticipated consumer trends. Here are three we’re keeping our eye on.   

  1. Sale spending will be dominated by Gen Z.  

Our survey suggests that in-store sale events will be most popular among 18-29 year olds. One in three Zoomers said they will start their shopping during pre-holiday sale events such as Black Friday, and 36% precent will visit malls and stores to buy gifts this year (a higher percentage than other age groups we surveyed). In another consumer study by Accenture, 70% of Gen Z respondents indicated that they will hit brick-and-mortar stores for their 2021 holiday shopping, and Discover’s annual holiday survey found that 44% of Gen Z consumers plan to spend more this this year than they did in 2020.  

But research by  McKinsey & Company finds that supply chain disruptions will cause consumers across all ages to “bounce between apps, websites, and in-person shopping for inspiration, ordering, and fulfillment.” Providing omnichannel options that make it easy to check whether items are in stock, receive notifications when items are restocked, and discover relevant alternative items will be just as key as discounts and in-store incentives – for all generations.   

  1. Holiday shopping will be a trending topic on social feeds.  

The McKinsey study also found that social media will influence holiday shopping decisions for 58% of consumers. The platforms that will have the most influence are Facebook (67%), YouTube (57%), and Instagram (52%) – unless you’re Gen Z. The younger generation’s most popular sources for social inspiration will be YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.  

In our own research, we asked respondents about their likelihood to share positive or negative experiences from online shopping on social media platforms. An equal number of respondents indicated that they are just as likely to share positive online shopping experiences as they are to share negative ones. In fact, 51% of respondents indicate that they are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to share their positive online shopping experiences on social media platforms. A somewhat smaller number (47%) is likely to share negative experiences.  

Customer contact centers should be prepared to monitor social feeds and respond promptly. Using natural language processing to mine the text of social messages can help businesses quickly identify issues and sentiment. Intelligent, omnichannel routing then delivers the message to the best agent to resolve the issue. 

  1.  When it comes to customer loyalty, the stakes will be higher.  

Almost three-quarters (72%) of 2021 consumers will take their business elsewhere after a poor customer service experience. U.S. respondents to our annual consumer survey have become even more discerning in the past year: Those who are very likely to continue doing business after a negative customer service experience decreased, and those unlikely to do so has increased. These findings have major implications during a year when customers are facing frustrations like stock shortages and delivery delays.  

But retailers who can solve a customer’s problem the first time they reach out – whether that means accurately answering a question about delivery status or offering a “make good” gift card because an item is unavailable – have an opportunity to boost loyalty. Respondents to our survey said that the No. 1 contributing factor to a positive customer experience is “getting the right answer from a representative, even if it takes more time.”  

Our research also shows that most consumers still prefer using the phone to resolve urgent or sensitive issues. So, make sure your inbound contact center reps have easy access to the latest information, and encourage them to spend the time it takes to make customers feel heard and valued. You can use intelligent omnichannel routing to send incoming customers to your best available people based on your business priorities. By integrating your contact center with your CRM database, customers can be routed based on their contact information, account number, location, risk of churn, and loyalty or account status. Agents can be more prepared for difficult conversations by using CRM integration to surface each customer’s purchase and interaction history.  

Want more CX predictions for the weeks and months ahead? Join us for our third annual fireside chat with Five9 CEO Rowan Trollope and industry analyst and all-around contact center and CX guru Sheila McGee-Smith. They’ll reveal the five major contact center predictions that will help you reimagine your CX and realize results in 2022 and beyond. Register now! 

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