Ultimate Black Friday and Cyber Monday guide for eCommerce businesses

Black Friday and Cyber Monday guide


Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are the most significant industry events of the year, and eCommerce businesses should prepare early on. After all, during this season, online users are ready, willing, and able to shop.

During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, your online store will most definitely see an unprecedented influx of customers. This is undoubtedly an opportunity to grow your eCommerce sales. However, failing to satisfy an increasing demand for your goods – both physical and digital – can result in damaging your reputation and can ultimately do more harm than good.

So how can you get ready for this unprecedented surge in demand for online shopping? Better yet, how can you turn Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers into recurring buyers? 

Here’s a hint: better customer support plays a huge role. Remember that acquiring new customers can be 5% to 25% more expensive than keeping existing ones.

In this guide, we will explore how you can create a positive customer experience this BFCM by providing quality customer support that can sustain your business even beyond the BFCM rush.

Prepare your customer support team for an influx of tickets

Your customer support team will be the busiest during this season, trying to handle an unprecedented number of customers’ inquiries and requests. 

When tickets pile up and your agents get overwhelmed, they won’t be able to handle them as fast as shoppers would want. Your potential customers may then decide to leave for a competitor’s store.

Remember that for customers of today, the faster the response time is, the better.

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Source: Gorgias

Extend your knowledge base

According to Salesforce, 89% of millennials use Google to find answers before contacting customer support agents. 

What does this mean? It means you have to think ahead. Brainstorm and compile the topics that shoppers might have this year during BFCM and extend your knowledge base with plenty of time before the rush hits.

For example, questions such as shipping returns and product availability will appear more frequently than before. Make sure your knowledge base has up-to-date information on these questions. You can also consider creating a subpage or folder in your knowledge base with Black Friday and Cyber Monday frequently asked questions.

Make sure you optimize your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for Google. Your customers will find answers to questions quicker by typing keywords in the search engine.

Extend your knowledge base

By answering as many questions before they even arise on the day of the great sale, you will be able to help shoppers handle issues on their own faster. This approach will help free up time for your customer support team so they can focus on answering more complicated requests.

Optimize the ticket submission process

Even though you can’t predict all of the possible questions potential shoppers will have during this season, you can still help your customer support agents find the right answers to more complicated topics in less time.

Optimize the ticket submission process by asking shoppers to provide a more detailed description of their issues with additional mandatory text fields and multiple-choice questions.

This way, you can help push the ticket to the right customer support agent who can provide them with the correct answer faster.

Introduce specialization of agents by specific issues

One thing that will help boost your agents’ efficiency, response time, and ticket handling time is having specific subject-matter experts who are ready to answer the questions.

Introduce specialization by topic or customer segment by assigning specific question domains for agents to handle. Get agents to learn one or two topics inside out so they can provide customers with effective and faster answers, serving quality and speed at the same time.

Invest in customer support training

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Prepare your team for different situations

BFCM is one of the busiest times for customer support and your agents might receive more atypical queries than usual. Start mapping out possible problems and corresponding troubleshooting strategies. Then, discuss this with your team to give them enough time to study and prepare.

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Organize procedures and workflows

Don’t just leave your customer support agents with their own notes after the training. Document all procedures that are new to them and give them enough time to learn them. Keep your internal documentation in place for the agents to refer to during the BFCM grind.

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Prepare initial training, then advanced and recycling sessions

While it’s still early, it’s a good idea to extend your core training for your existing customer support team. Revisit training opportunities to keep their skills sharp, such as simulating possible situations and booking more meetings with the agents to continuously check if they can handle simple and complex issues.

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Prepare your team to enforce the workflow

Make sure your customer support agents know what to do when an atypical situation arises. During BFCM, all departments will be busy handling different issues and won’t be able to help. Your agents need to have full ownership over their tickets and handle complicated situations on their own by making well-thought-out decisions.

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Double-check your helpdesk/chat technology

Ensure your website can handle considerably higher traffic

Is your eCommerce site ready to receive heavy traffic? The truth is, your store will receive unprecedented volume, so it’s integral to get your site ready for that.

For example, in 2017, online sales spiked by +361% on Black Friday and +220% on Cyber Monday—and this was in the UK alone.

criteo seasonal trafic

Is your website ready for even more traffic this year?

Dig into the technical aspects of your online store. Invite your in-house IT support or consider getting an external consultant who will analyze and test your store performance to introduce necessary fixes.

Aim to minimize any possible technical errors because these can cause you to lose time and money from customers who would otherwise spend it in your store. Then, your customers might end up writing negative reviews and posts on social media spreading the word about your website downtime.

Make sure page speed stays high

Aside from ensuring that your website can handle the traffic, you should also keep your page speed high for a better user experience.

During BFCM, when your website receives more traffic, the issue can exacerbate even more. Your shoppers won’t wait – pages that load for up to 5 seconds can cause a 90% increase in users’ probability of leaving the website.

page load time

A good benchmark for your page speed is 3 seconds. If you can bring this time down even more, this is great!

Plan how to deal with potential outages

You already have your site ready for an influx of online shoppers, but can you really be 100% sure everything will go according to the plan? Not really! If anything still gets out of your control, you will be left alone with some technical issues in place.

That is why you have to get some 24/7 tech support to handle these issues around the clock. Consider hiring an external company that monitors your online store’s performance. Always have a plan B—especially for tech issues!

Shipping tracking and other important aspects

Shipping tracking

The BFCM rush also affects shipping dates—there will be delays due to the amount of orders.

Your customer support agents should be able to quickly check the shipping status and provide clients with additional information about the reason for the delay and possible date of delivery. It’s likely that customers will reach out to you, and not to the courier.

Consider setting up a page on your domain where customers can check their order status if you don’t have one yet.

Shipping tracking

Monitor inventory levels

Capitalize on inventory management before the rush hits. How can you make sure you have the exact necessary amount of goods at the right time? The thing is, you can’t ever be 100% sure.

You can benchmark the data from the previous years. For example, in 2018, outwear was one of the most frequently discounted products during Black Friday. If you are going to compete with other brands in this product category, you should be ready for an increased demand.

The deals that were popular last year may no longer be popular this year. New trends can appear, and you might see a less popular item being sold out in the first minutes of your BFCM sale. Get a support agent who will analyze sales progress in real-time and can determine an increasing demand for some goods. Have them fill in the stock by ordering goods before your shop runs out of stock.

Plan for stockouts

What if you can’t order the goods that are running out fast? Make sure you have a plan to offer customers other similar products. Create some chatbot scenarios to engage frustrated users who were too late to catch the deals they wanted. Here are some examples of what you can do:

  • Explain when a product will be in stock again and offer similar products based on their interests.
  • Get your customer support agents ready to answer additional questions about inventory and engage with customers further to help them choose something else to buy.
  • You can also create a strategy for giving other bonuses or discount codes for the customers who want to get out of stock goods.

Transform returns into retention

Just some real talk—BFCM is also a season of compulsive shopping. A lot of customers buy products today and return them the next day. Get your customer support team to make a good impression on a customer who sends the purchased goods back.

The experience with returns affects the satisfaction levels of consumers. For example, the ease of refund accounts for 58% of customer satisfaction. The convenience of returning products is also crucial, as almost one-third of customers are satisfied if they can drop their packages at a convenient location. As a result, customers who had good return experiences will be more willing to come back.

return and refund
Source: Narvar

Embrace omnichannel support

Offer help on more channels

Be present where your customers are so you can help them better, whether it’s phone, social media, live chat, or email. Tools like Aircall or Reamaze help customer support teams connect with customers on multiple channels, connect to your other tools, and keep track of the message history across channels. Deploy a top team capacity where your customers might need your help.

Speed up ticket handling

With solutions such as Aircall, your customer support agents can get an instant overview of the customer’s communication history. This way, your agents can cut the time of checking back on records and, as a result, reply faster. With omnichannel customer support solutions for eCommerce, your agents can leave notes on specific cases and easily hand them over to their colleagues.

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Implement AI

Benefits of using AI chatbot

37% of customers prefer to start resolving their issues with a chatbot instead of waiting for three minutes to contact a customer support agent. Implementing AI in your customer support strategy can reduce workload by a lot and keep your agents focused on the more complicated tickets.

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By making AI-powered chatbots available, your customer support agents can resolve issues quicker, optimize the cost of running the customer support department, and route tickets to the right agent.

How to implement chatbot ASAP: pre-built solutions

By implementing AI-powered chatbots, you can handle a more significant chunk of requests without involving a human being. However, building an AI chatbot from scratch will take lots of time to design, implement, and give AI time to grasp information and learn typical requests.

If you can’t afford to have your custom AI solution yet but you’re interested in implementing one for BFCM, you can use pre-built AI-powered customer support tools.

Sketching the logic of conversation

With various pre-built solutions such as Chatcreate, you don’t need to have an IT degree to set up your chatbot. Using a drag and drop editor, you can program the possible responses to the questions your clients might ask.

Chatcreate screenshot

Brainstorm the goals your customers will want to achieve with your customer support department. Understand where your customers will need the most support and the right moment to contact a customer support agent. Then sketch the question logic you want your AI chatbot to follow.

Set up a marketing campaign

Email marketing

Build anticipation by informing your customers of upcoming special discounts and deals. Segment your customer lists and send personalized messages depending on your customers’ previous interactions with the website or demographical criteria. 

For example, Sand Cloud Towels decided to send a “fat” offer to the subscribers who had opened their emails in the last 90 days, but never purchased. 

If customers don’t buy when presented with this generous offer, one can assume they won’t buy anytime soon. Apart from activating customers that haven’t purchased yet, this approach also helps identify if a subscriber should be kept on the list or if you should stop contacting them in the future.

If you need help to set up everything last minute, choose to work with the agency that has been specializing in eCommerce email marketing—Chronos Agency.


Remember to set up retargeting campaigns to the landing pages specific for BFCM offers. Don’t lose customers that were already browsing but haven’t bought anything yet. Instead, nurture them for further purchases in your online store.

Another strategy is to retarget users with the products they have abandoned. Remind them about the abondoned products or offer an additional incentive to buy.

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Upselling and cross-selling

Come up with a marketing strategy to offer clients complementary goods during their buying process. Integrate smart chat messages that will give additional suggestions for products to check.

Agree on the other discounts or bonuses that your customer support agents could offer when communicating with customers on different channels. Not only can you use dynamic chat messages, but you can also reach out to customers by email to motivate them with special offers.

Encourage customers to spend more by giving a discount on the main product and offering complementary goods. Getting a deal for one product will keep customers more willing to pay more on the goods at a regular price.

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Influencer marketing

Establish cooperation with influencers from your industry and get them to promote your deals and discounts on their social media channels. Tailor unique offers for their subscribers and provide special coupons or discount codes. Align with influencers about integrating a buying option in the brand content they will publish, such as swipe ups, product tags, and shoppable posts.

Here is an example of how the swipe up option, together with coupons, can be used to lead customers directly to an online store.

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Build anticipation on social media

Start Black Friday ans Cyber Monday social media posts early to uncover your preparation for this day. Set up countdowns to keep the excitement high. Inform your audience about special offers before BFCM weekend so they’re hyped up and ready to shop.

Experience a highly-focused, data-driven approach to digital marketing when you outsource a CMO.

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Customer support checklist

Let’s summarize the most important aspects for your customer support agents to focus on during the tremendous BFCM sale. Here is a brief checklist you have to cover with your agents before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Keep shopping cart abandonment under control

Cart abandonment rates can increase during BFCM because online users get distracted with multiple offers online! Your agents should have a strategy to engage churning customers to complete their purchase. They can use multiple triggers and channels – emails, social media, or live chat, to offer additional discounts or incentives for customers to finish their purchase.

Engage customers on product pages proactively

With tools like Gorgias, you can automate user engagement on product pages by setting conditional (if-then) rules. This can then help you understand what help customers might need when browsing specific categories. It’s also important to come up with scenarios on how to best engage your customers when they are unsure about their purchase. Keep your customer support laser-focused on the questions where bots can’t help.

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Help with making payment

Don’t leave your customers disappointed when they can’t finalize their payment for some reason. Set automated triggers for customer support to give a helping hand when needed. Discuss the reasons for failed payments with your customer support agents and agree on the best strategy for resolving them.

Assist with shopping

Automate the messages offering freebies or bonus items to customers who have just added some products to the cart. You can also explore triggering customer support to grant additional incentives to customers to encourage them to increase cart value.

Deal with returns better

Don’t view product returns as setbacks. Instead, use these situations to impress customers by providing a smooth and seamless experience.

Ideally, shoppers should be able to initiate a return conveniently. At the same time, you can make them think twice by adding some psychological triggers.

Get your customer support to discuss with customers if they want to exchange the product for something else of similar value or different specifications. Most shoppers (57%) will still prefer to exchange the item in your online store.

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Failed payments recovery

Most eCommerce businesses use similar templates for dunning payment recovery. However, its efficiency can be relatively low. Go for expert support to implement tried-and-tested strategies that have higher conversion rates than generic templates. Consider working with a partner such as LTVplus to help you recover more payments.

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