Christmas is officially here, and like every year, I feel as though we’re all confused about how it got here so quickly. But whether you’re prepped for the silly season or still feel like it’s July, December is one of the most important months of the year.
The holidays can be make or break for so many businesses – especially retailers. Many work throughout the year to set themselves up for a strong finish, and rely on Christmas trading to ensure that the year is profitable overall.
But the holiday season brings with it some challenges as well: more foot traffic making stores busy, peaks in online ordering which can test technology and logistics or fulfilment, overwhelmed and impatient customers, and temporary employees who aren’t as well entrenched in the business. Regardless of the challenges you’re up against, it’s your people who will have to deal with those challenges – and it’s them who will make or break your customer experience.
Set your team up for success
- Hire for attitude: When bringing on new team members, hire people that naturally love helping people. You can always train them in the skills and product knowledge they need, but it’s far harder to change attitude. Try to view Christmas hires as a great chance to start recruiting talent for the future and hire great people.
- Invest your time: Consider developing a quick-fire training programme for your Christmas casuals to get them up-to-date quickly. Teach your new employees the way your company does things; make sure they know the standards you expect (for example, how you expect them to greet customers). Investing time into good training gives them the best opportunity to be good at their job and create a great experience.
Keep the team committed to providing great customer experience
Focus on getting back to basics – like how to be friendly and genuinely helpful without being overbearing. Use role playing or share examples; give them dos and don’ts – for example, if you’re stocking shelves when a customer comes in and looks lost, always go and offer them help. Teach your team what a great experience looks like – and show them that you expect them to provide just that.
We like to say that your people are customer #1. If you can give your team a great experience working for you, then they’re far more likely to do the same for your customers. Happy, engaged employees consistently provide better customer experience, so focus on how you can reward and celebrate your team.
Team challenges are a good way to get everyone engaged – see who can get the highest customer satisfaction scores, or celebrate hitting sales targets. Even less measurable things can be an opportunity to reward your team for great work – for example, shouting a team member a cup of coffee when they go above and beyond, or ordering in lunch for the team when you’re super busy.
The other key to looking after your team at Christmas is making sure you have the right number of people on the team. Most people want to provide great customer experience – but sometimes things are out of your team’s control. For example, one client of ours identified from feedback that they were getting low customer satisfaction scores at Christmas because the store was using an employee ratio handed down by head office, and they didn’t have enough people on. By increasing team numbers, wait times disappeared, employees were less overwhelmed, customer satisfaction went up, and sales increased.
Put your people first, and they’ll put your customers first – that’s how you’ll keep providing great customer experiences this holiday season.