It happens every holiday season. Some avoid it like the plague, and others are brave enough to dive in head first.
No, we’re not talking about quality time with your in-laws.
We’re talking about Boxing Day—the single most notorious day in retail of the year (well, besides the horror that is Black Friday). A day when customers are bargain-crazy, lines are out the door, and temperatures are often sweltering. A day when it’s often the hardest to deliver great customer service, but also one of the most important.
Here’s what you need to prepare for, and what you can be doing on the day, to make your business Boxing Day-proof.
- Laying the foundation
Stock will be one of your biggest concerns this Boxing Day. You’d think this goes without saying, but year after year, we see businesses failing to prepare adequately in this area.
Just imagine—hot, sweaty, frustrated customers queue up for your store, eager to burst through the doors to cash in on the great bargains they’ve seen advertised on TV. Upon entering, they can’t find the product their hearts are set on, so they search around for a staff member to ask. After spending minutes looking for an available team member, they find one, only to be told “I don’t know, sorry!” Realising you’ve run out of stock, and their time has been wasted, they stomp out of your store annoyed, already halfway through a Facebook post complaining about your business to their friends and family.
Sounds like a nightmare, right? Unfortunately, it’s guaranteed to happen if the right preparation isn’t made in advance, so make sure you’re well-stocked before the day.
- Buddy up your staff members
Besides simply ensuring adequate stock levels exist, make sure to buddy up your new staff and part-timers with more experienced staff. Rather than a bottleneck occurring at the store manager level, if each inexperienced staff member is buddied up with a more knowledgeable one, staff can continue to react to customer requests fast, providing great customer service.
Even if you’ve done your preparation, have good stock levels, and staff who are well trained and buddied up, you’ll still most likely run into issues on Boxing Day. Thankfully, there are two more straightforward actions that can be taken to minimise this...
- Provide great customer service amidst the turmoil
It’s all about making your customers feel as comfortable as possible. The easiest way to do this is by putting yourself in their shoes—if you were out shopping all day, in the hot sun and teeming crowds, what would you want? What would make your store stand out from the dozens of other stores customers will frequent today? The answer could be something as simple as free bottles of water, little chocolates, or a shaded area where customers can catch a breath and lather up on sun cream. By having some form of ‘X factor’, you enable your store to be the one which sticks in the minds of customers at the end of the day, and builds customer loyalty heading into 2018.
- Empower your staff to make improvements as they go
Lastly, empower your floor staff to adapt as they go. Rather than diving into the chaos of Boxing Day with good intentions, then reviewing with your team the next day, you can provide really great customer service by adapting to issues as they arise. If customers complain about something going wrong and there’s a way to fix that issue—give your staff permission to fix it straight away. If you notice Kevin in aisle four is being unhelpful, move him quickly to somewhere less customer-focused, and replace him with a more customer-centric staff member. Boxing Day is about acting on information as it comes in, and responding immediately, rather than missing opportunities for great customer service.
This Boxing Day, the choice is yours. Will you put in the preparation with your stock and staff? Are you willing to provide an ‘X factor’ and respond immediately to customer feedback? If so, you may well be the one store that customers remember when the dust has settled, and create a fantastic platform for your business heading into 2018.