December is finally here …. tis the season for fabulous fun and exceptional customer service opportunities. This has always been my most favorite time of year ever since I was a little girl. I think this stems from the fact that even though my parents were generally quite tough on my siblings and I, when December rolled around they morphed into Mr. and Mrs. Father Christmas.
My mum’s specialty was taking us around town to see how the buildings were decorated which we all loved. The cherry on top though was getting to spend the holidays down in Mombasa where our schedules revolved around swimming, the beach, eating, sleeping, and dancing under an open sky.
We all know customer service is important, but it’s critical during stressful times like the holidays. So how can you guarantee a winning holiday season? Read on and find out.
- Plan Ahead – Most stores see increased foot traffic during the holidays so plan ahead to determine personnel, product stocking and training needs. This is not the time to skimp on staffing. If you typically have a small workforce, look into whether you need to hire temporary holiday staff or even engage upper management for assistance in some areas.
- Have fabulous fun – This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. However for some people the stress of dealing with fewer parking spaces and increased people in the stores can be quite tough to handle. You can help them get back to the fun of the season. Have fun by giving them an unexpected and positive experience. Enjoy your work, your coworkers, and your customers. It’s not about goofing off or wasting time. But it is about finding ways to bring fun and joy into your work and bringing your customers along for the ride. Should you encounter Ebenezer Scrooge though, don’t take it personally. Wish him/her happy holidays and keep it moving.
- Add a little treat to delight your customers – Give your customers a little gift in their packages. This could be something as simple as a candy cane or two. It does not need to be pricey just something they will be sure to enjoy and use.
- Pick up the phone and just say hello – In December, things begin to slow down so pick up the phone and call five clients each day, just to say hello, thank you, and wish them happy holidays without trying to sell them a thing.
- Don’t forget your employees – the holidays are not just for your external customers. Your internal customers matter as well so take every opportunity to show your appreciation like having food and drinks (non-alcoholic of course) available in the break room. Also don’t stretch them too thin, as any resentment they feel will boil over to your external customers.
- Speed up the process – The holiday season is often equated to standing in long lines and no matter how much you love this time of year this is not how your customers would like to spend their time. So find ways to speed up the transaction process during this busy time.
- Don’t focus on the sale – okay stay with me on this one. Most people who go shopping during the holidays, do so with the intention of buying something. If you focus on the experience that the customer should have versus on trying to sell them a product, you will be surprised to find that you make a sale anyway or even better, create a loyal customer. As Maya Angelou said “… people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
Customer service takes on new challenges during the holiday season, but a little preparation and forethought will help this busy time become a happy productive one for you, your customers, and your employees.