Retail is rarely a steady business. Most retailers have seasonal surges, whether it’s to meet holiday demand or to help consumers gear up for spring planting or summer fun. Most hire temporary help to manage the increase.
Another common pattern is to precede these busy seasons with the rollout of new technology, starting with pilots and then ramping up into full rollout as they confirm the solution is road-ready and scaleable.
Both situations have unintended consequences: a spike in help desk demand. Planning for these surges can mean the difference between a success story and a costly mess. Many retailers find the answer in contracting for supplemental help desk support.
Why Help Desk Demand Surges
The need for help desk services increases during staffing surges; Level 10 often sees spikes of 20% or more. This is because:
- Stores are flooded with new associates unfamiliar with how to use store devices, so they need information on how to complete processes they were not taught or don’t remember.
- Store equipment breaks at higher rates due to heavier use and inexperienced users.
- Stores are open longer and need more after-hours support.
- Brand new devices are unfamiliar even to seasoned employees.
- Many newly deployed store devices are mobile, which are more vulnerable to damage; some reports say they break 30% more often than stationary equipment.
Tech rollouts also challenge retailer help desks, particularly if help desk staff are trying to meet regular demand as well as manage the pilot and rollout of the new technology:
- Pilot phases are all about revealing hiccups and problems. Help desks are often tasked with solving these complex, high-priority issues, which take more time to resolve.
- Help desks also need to work out their responses and escalation procedures as a new devices’ support needs become clear during the pilot phase.
- Technicians doing store implementation work are often asked call the help desk to check in and out, as well as to report on deliverables. The longer that takes, the higher their fees.
- Special implementation project work tends to drive down quality of service on regular calls.
- Capacity limits on the help desk often slow the pace of new tech implementations.
According to RSR Research, “Technology rollouts in stores fall prey to the store multiplier effect — what seems a small expense per store turns into big numbers when you have 500 or 1,000 stores,” the firm states in “The History of Omni-channel Part 3: The Store is in Trouble.” So working out the kinks in how to support new technology is key to limiting the total cost of owning and supporting those devices.
A good help desk outsourcer not only relieves pressure on retail help desks, but brings its experience across thousands of retailers and rollouts to the table. This is especially valuable for newer technologies the retailer has never used before, such as mobile devices — an outsourcer can bring learnings from other retailer’s rollouts to bear. An outsourcer, especially one staffed with former store technicians, can drop right into the support role, while hiring more in-house staff brings a long learning curve.
A seasonal surge or a big tech rollout can easily be undermined by inadequate support resources. Free ROI analysis can help retailers determine how they can customize a plan with an outsourcer to most effectively to fill their temporary support needs and keep store tech running smoothly.