The holidays are right around the corner and getting your business ready is a major undertaking. Here are 6 must-haves for making sure you get through the season feeling like a saint and not a Scrooge:
With the holiday season coming up fast, it’s important to be prepared, especially when it comes to customer service. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 2 in 3 customers have walked out of a store due to poor customer service. Look at past trends (order volume, customer questions, weather delays, etc.) to see how much business was done in previous holiday seasons, and schedule your staff accordingly. Ensuring your support team is properly staffed and trained for the upcoming peak season will help reduce the stress of long lines or hold times. If you need to hire additional staff, make sure you do it well ahead of the holiday rush so they have time to be trained appropriately and lend their full value to your customers when it matters most. Consider extending your hours an extra hour every night, or a weekend morning. This extra time can help with answering emails, returning voicemails, or tracking down a shipment. Don't forget to advertise your holiday "extended service hours" in your offers, coupons and e-mail marketing messages.
Plan to Motivate
It's easy for staff to lose focus during the holiday season. Meet with them prior to staffing up for the busy holiday season and let them know management will be available for extra support as needed. Consider keeping everyone motivated and on-task by holding team contests. Make sure the goals of the contests are consistent with the goals of your business. This way, your team will stay focused and have fun at the same time. Remind the team that frustration levels for customers might be higher than normal during the holiday rush and to keep calm and continue practicing the fundamentals of providing great customer service.
Consider Offering Customized Products
A big box store is able to offer a wide variety of merchandise, but most don’t have the ability to personalize products. Selling customized gift sets or gift baskets can entice customers to shop at your store instead. People want to buy special gifts for their loved ones and your small business can offer that much-appreciated special touch.
Test Run Promotions and Advertising
Regardless of whether or not you agree with pre-Thanksgiving holiday ads or not, this is a smart way for business owners to identify what the big sellers and motivators will be this holiday season. Make sure to plan and secure your advertising early. This will allow you the greatest chance for discounts, as well as enable you to get the right placement for your business.
Help shoppers get into the holiday spirit. Change your displays. Rearrange your shelves. Decorate windows and walls. Play holiday music. Instruct employees to talk to customers about their plans for the holiday season to get them in the spirit. If you make the shopping experience fun, people will want to keep coming back for more throughout the holiday season.
Give Your Website a Check-Up
The holiday season usually means more traffic to your website - especially if you sell online. Be sure that your site can handle the increased web traffic and transaction processing. If your website is down, your customers can’t buy from you and you’re losing potential sales. According to Chase Paymentech, online retailers earn nearly 40 percent of their annual revenue during the holiday shopping season alone. Use a reliable web host for your website with a near 100 percent up time guarantee and have back-up plans in case of emergencies.