It is no secret that the holiday season is a source of incredible stress for the owners of retail business. The number of people that come a-shopping during the holidays is incredible, everyone is in a hurry and everyone is a bit short with their temper. The people who suffer the brunt of it are the customer service people and as a business owner, you need to know how to prepare them for the holiday challenges and how to help them keep their cool and provide great customer service to your customers.
Understand What the Customers Want
There are a few things that your customers will want from you this holiday season, or any holiday season for that matter.
First of all, they will want their holiday shopping to be as speedy a process as possible, regardless of whether you run an online store or a traditional one. They do not wish to wait in lines and they do not want to go through long payment processes online. If they order something, they want it delivered as soon as possible or otherwise they will be taking their business elsewhere in the future. If they have customer service inquiries, they also expect those to be resolved extremely quickly.
Another thing that they want is abundance of choice when it comes to the different ways in which their shopping experience can be realized. For example, even if you run an online store and they shop online, they want to be able to return the items they are not satisfied with at a real, physical location. They also want to be able to use as many payment methods as you can provide for them and they want your customer service people to be quick to handle everything.
Finally, your customers want to know that your customer service people can help them. Customers themselves come prepared like never before during the holidays and they want your customer service people to be at least as knowledgeable. Your customers do not want to spend half an hour waiting as one of your people is fumbling around on the store computer, trying to learn something that they should have known in the first place.
As you can see, these are all some very basic requirements and those that have a direct effect on their shopping experience. It's like what happened in 2015 with the Starbucks Christmas cup controversy – no one really cared, as long as the Starbucks people were able to handle the holiday traffic.
Prepare your Customer Service People
In order to be able to handle the holiday chaos, your people will need to be well trained and well prepared.
First of all, they need to understand that, during the holidays, making the sale is not even the most important thing. If a sale goes through, a chance for another one will appear almost instantly. During the holidays, it is all about providing the ultimate service to the customers. Instead of expending their energy trying to sell extended warranty or something like that, your people should be doing everything in their power to help the customers. This way, your holiday customers become your regular, returning customers.
It is also very possible that you will be hiring additional people during the holidays and that you will be asking more out of your regular employees. In either of these cases, this means your people need additional training. They need to be a well-oiled machine once the crowds come pouring in and this can only be achieved through training and preparation. If you know you will be selling some new products during the holidays, make sure that your people know everything there is about them, because, like we said, your customers will come in prepared.
The chances are something will go wrong for you during the holiday season. You may discover that you are understocked on a product that is really selling like hot cakes. Perhaps one of your people will go down with the flu and you will have to find them a replacement. Maybe your website will experience hosting issues.
The crucial thing is to stay cool and collected and to approach things with a calm demeanor. This way, you will be able to better understand the problem at hand and also approach it from the most sensible angle.
Holidays are a chaotic time of the year and as a retail business owner, you need to be aware of this.