Blog · 24 Nov 2017

Are you ready for events like Black Friday?

The sheer number of people visiting your website on Black Friday will put strain on it. As will Cyber Monday, Singles' Day and every other big shopping event.

Managing director, design, delivery and service operations

Think you’re ready to handle Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Think again. Until you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these four questions — you may well not be.

1. Can your network take the strain?

Participating in Black Friday is like voluntarily asking the whole internet to DDoS (a distributed denial of service attack) you. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to hit your servers at the same time, and if you don’t have the bandwidth and processing power to deal with that, your whole network is going to fall apart.

This doesn’t mean you need to always have a huge capacity. But you do need to be able to easily scale up and down. If you don’t, you’re going to struggle.

2. Are your systems sharing information?

You’ll have people buying online, in store and over the phone. It can be incredibly frustrating if someone buys something, but your system doesn’t update quick enough or doesn’t check before it completes the order. You can end up with orders you can’t fulfil and a bunch of angry customers.

If a customer sees there are still ten in stock on the website, they won’t be happy if they click to buy and find out the order won’t go through because it ran out five minutes ago. Even worse, imagine it went through fine – only to get an email an hour later, telling you you’re out of luck. This happens every Black Friday.

3. Is your contact centre geared up?

This isn’t just about your phones. My colleague talked about this recently – people will behave differently in different situations. And they’ll expect different things from you.

For example, they’ll want to reach you easily. So can your contact centre handle the volume of calls you’re going to get? Or, at the very least, can you ramp up your service if you need to?

How will they reach you? Facebook? Twitter? Web chat? You need to make sure that you make it as easy as possible to get hold of you, and that you can answer people’s questions.

And when they’ve got hold of you, do your agents have the right skills? (Our latest research shows 61 per cent of people say they know more than the agent about the product). Do you have agents around who can answer the trickier questions?

It’s important to make sure that your agents have the latest information about any new offers. They’ll also need to know whether the customer has phoned before, or posted on social media, so they can answer their questions straight away.

So make sure you have the right channels, the right people and the right technology to make it all work together. Otherwise you can leave customers frustrated – and unlikely to return.

4. Are you secure?

Black Friday is a prime time to target businesses. It’s easy to hide in a mess of frantic data. How are you going to keep an eye out for cyberattacks?

And when you take those payments, how are you making sure that nobody can snoop on the contents, and that you’re protecting your customers’ privacy?

For example, when people phone in and you take their card details, are you following the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard? Things like: keeping the data encrypted, regularly testing your systems or restricting who can view those records. If you’re not, you’re not just endangering your customers’ data – you’re risking a fine.

Customers expect your systems to keep their data safe. They’re entrusting you with their livelihoods and personal details.

Don’t feel ready? If you can’t answer these questions easily, you’re not prepared for Black Friday.

But if you can’t handle Black Friday, you’re in bigger trouble. It’s not the only day you need to prepare for. Cyber Monday is hot on its heels. It also varies depending on the country: Asia has Singles’ day, for example. There are even company-specific days like Amazon Prime day.

If your network can’t scale, if your service isn’t consistent and reliable, if your security isn’t up to scratch: you’ll be missing out on opportunities throughout the year.