Holiday Hiring Crunch Heightened by Shortened Shopping Season
By Jason Hamilton, Snagajob
Soon it will be the peak time of year for retail sales: the make-or-break, pressure cooker fourth quarter is already upon us. But before the cash register is humming and online orders are coming in just as fast as they can be fulfilled, retailers need to hire their seasonal employees.
According to a recent survey of hourly hiring managers from Snagajob, 12% of managers with plans to hire this year will begin their efforts this month. When it comes to the perfect seasonal employee in 2013, here’s what hiring managers and retailers are looking for in the front-line people who will help boost the bottom line:
Be here when we need you; be flexible. In the past, a positive attitude and previous experience were the top attributes that hourly hiring managers told Snagajob that they desired in a seasonal employee. Now, managers want a potential employee to work the daily schedule they need, the No. 1 attribute 30% of hiring managers say they desire. (Previous experience and a positive attitude are on the hiring managers’ wish list at 28% and 21%, respectively.)
Work full-time and part-time: For the first time in the six years of the Snagajob survey, hiring managers are looking for more full-time seasonal workers than part-time staff. The survey shows an expected breakdown of seasonal hires that is 53% full-time hires and 47% part-time hires. And whether they come aboard as part-time workers or full-time employees, seasonal hires should have a chance to prove themselves and then join a company permanently; the survey indicates that about half of seasonal hires will become a longer-term investment.
Accept relatively flat pay: The average hourly wage hiring managers will pay a seasonal hire is $10.80 versus last year’s $10.70.
And for the hiring managers who are still wading through seasonal applications, have some hope that it may be a manageable process. About half of the hiring managers polled by Snagajob expect the same number of applications as last year. That said, another 41% of those polled expect to receive even more applications.
Finally, some businesses will lean on current employees to cover the fourth-quarter workload, skipping the application process altogether. Less than one third of hiring managers indicated that they will not make any seasonal hires this year. And of that group, almost half say that they will lean on current staff to pick up extra hours for the holidays.
Whatever your holiday business goals that will put you in the black, act now to get your staff lined up properly. With just 25 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, the right team needs to be ready to take advantage of every shopping hour and customer interaction. Happy hiring.
As VP of marketing for Snagajob – America’s largest hourly employment network for job seekers and employers – Jason Hamilton keeps track of hourly employment trends and helps hourly employers to recruit, hire and retain a stronger workforce.
Big retailers early adopters of Pinterest’s API
Red hot Pinterest is offering new functunality to third parties that will allow them to curate content and drive traffic to their sites, and major retailers such as Walmart, Target and Zappos are all over it.
Retail partners will be able to embed Pinterest pins directly on their sites, making it easier for users to post content to Pinterest. Users will be able to go to Zappos.com, for example, and see which shoes Pinners covet most. Retailers can use these application programming interfaces, APIs, to show popular products on their home pages or to curate content on Pinterest at any given time. The Pins are updated regularly, so people can always see what’s trending.
In the coming weeks, Pinterest will release additional API endpoints that will surface different groups of Pins on partner sites. Expect API endpoints to start cropping up on a variety of partner websites and apps. In addition to Walmart, Target and Zappos, early adopters include AllRecipes, Better Homes and Garden, BuzzFeed, Disney sites Babble and BabyZone, Elle Magazine, Mashable, ModCloth, NBC News Digital’s iVillage.com, Nestlé, Random House, Snapguide, Wayfair, Whole Foods, Zulily and on the soon-to-launch Spoonful and Tastebook.
Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Shoppers are Ready. Are Your Communications Systems?
By Adam Simpson, CEO, Easy Office Phone
Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent two of the year’s biggest sales days, generating billions in revenue. Chain stores, shopping centers and even partners need to be prepared for the onslaught of consumer demand.
After the shopping bonanza comes the surge of customer returns and requests. While retailers focus heavily on marketing and merchandising products and services, many fail to have the foresight to strategically implement the tools needed to cover the entire shopper experience – from point of purchase to consumer care. It’s vital for chain stores and shopping centers to have the proper communications systems in place to handle consumer demands efficiently and effectively.
In today’s virtual world, businesses must mind not only the crowd but also the cloud. Communications systems must be up to the task, and retail operations that have already moved to cloud-based phone service are ahead of the mob.
The following tips will help ensure that you’re ready for the rush, and that you’re able to get the most out of your cloud-based phone system during the industry’s busiest season:
Tip 1: Use call queuing. Queues allow you to distribute calls to multiple staff as calls arrive, and will also hold calls in priority sequence if all your agents are occupied. This is a powerful tool for handling calls in an orderly and efficient manner. You can easily change which agents belong to a given queue, and even give call preference to your top performers.
Remember that agents can be spread across multiple physical locations and still tied into the same queue, a helpful option for stores with multiple locations and staff working from different geographic areas.
Tip 2: Set target service levels and measure whether your teams are meeting them. Responsiveness is critical during peak shopping periods; consumers will gladly shop at a competing store if your team can’t get to them in time. Determine an optimum response time, and then the target service levels feature will then report to you on how frequently your targets are actually being met in practice.
In addition to target service levels, use deep tracking and reporting tools to understand how your contact center teams are performing across a wide range of metrics and where they might have room for improvement. Remember to make these evaluations in advance of the busiest days so that you can make any necessary adjustments without the added pressure. Metrics can include: total number of calls; how many calls were answered versus abandoned; average hold time; average call length; and much more. A good tracking and reporting suite will include the ability to easily export data to your favorite spreadsheet format.
Tip 3: Consider implementing ‘spillover’ queues. It’s entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that at some point the influx of Black Friday or Cyber Monday calls will overwhelm your staff, despite their best efforts. The ideal solution is a spillover or backup queue that will receive those excess calls and pass them to a second group of agents who are standing by as a contingency. If your business brings on staff on a temporary basis, and pays them based on calls taken, you can use the tracking and reporting tools from Tip #3 to ensure the accuracy of your payments to these temporary agents.
Tip 4: Create logical separations between departments. Companies with multiple departments, products or services may need separate phone numbers and call queues for each in order to handle request volume. Use your cloud-based phone service provider’s Web interface to ensure that each product or service has a unique phone number, pointing to a call queue staffed by appropriately trained agents. For queues handling the most time-sensitive inquiries, you may want to deploy skills-based routing. This feature lets you “rank” your agents by skill level, and incoming calls will first “seek” the agents you’ve set as most capable before moving on to other agents.
Tip 5: Announce approximate wait times. Your shoppers may or may not be patient enough to tolerate a reasonable hold time, but if they are going to wait on hold, be sure you give them a rough idea of when they can expect to reach an agent. This small but important feature is not only easy to implement through your provider’s web interface, but will be a big win with customers.
By implementing these simple tips, your business will be better prepared to handle customer demands more efficiently and effectively, and ultimately, ensure that your business runs more smoothly this holiday season.