If you’re reading this article the day it comes out, it’s Christmas Day. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any other holiday around this time, you know that the holidays often bring a frantic level of busyness and even stress. Depending on where you work or the industry you’re in, some of you get crazy busy during the holidays while others actually slow down.
Even if you do slow down during the holidays, this lesson is still for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s the holidays or not, there will be times you will be busier than others. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is crunch time for retailers. For other businesses and industries, your busy times may be cyclical or seasonal. In some industries, the busy season means an influx of calls, emails and messages from customers who need help.
The point is that every type of business has a busy time. The question is how to manage those times. I’ve compiled a list of five ways you can combat the extra busyness and still deliver an amazing experience to your customers.
- Look at your history. Look back and track the patterns during your busy times. Knowing when you are busiest will help you make a game plan.
- Properly staff. Being understaffed means potentially irritating customers when they don’t get the service they’re used to. Whether they call in for support or visit you in person, not having enough employees to meet (and exceed) customers’ expectations could cause a customer to leave, hang up, or worse—never come back because of one tainted experience.
- Recognize the opportunity you have with new customers. When customers receive great service during busy times, they know that less frantic times will be just as good, if not better. This is especially important for new customers.
- Warn customers about busy times. Remind your customers that the busy time could cause delays or other service issues. While I suggest you do all you can to avoid problems, sometimes they are inevitable. For example, you can provide the best service at your store during the holidays, but if you have to ship something, you are at the mercy of the shipper. Another way of putting it is this: teach customers how they can avoid problems during busy times.
- Have good self-service options. Customers are getting used to taking control of their issues by going to websites, interacting with chatbots and more. If it’s something as simple as checking the status of an order, your customers will appreciate the availability of a good self-service option. Just make sure that if the customer opts to talk to someone instead, it’s fast and convenient to do so.
Some of you may ask—especially if you’re in the retail business—why I didn’t share this information a month ago. As I said before, every business and industry has times that are busier than others, and these times may vary. To me, this information is timeless. So, look at your history—which is first on the list—and plan accordingly for whenever your busiest time of year is.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright © MMXIX, Shep Hyken)