Last week, I talked about How To Prepare Your Online Business For Christmas and the importance of being sure that you’re ready for the increased traffic that is natural at this time of the year.
Whilst you might be fully prepared for the onslaught of additional shoppers prior to Christmas, it’s what comes after the busy build up to the holiday period that many businesses fail to cope with properly – customers.
It might sound odd that a business isn’t able to deal with customers after Christmas, but for any business who has tried to operate over the holiday season, they’re more than aware that it’s very similar to attempting to keep a dozen plates spinning all at once – one of them is likely fall and in the case of businesses, it’s very often the customer service aspect.
To ensure that you maintain a high level of customer service during the Christmas period, it simply requires for you to have a plan of action and the following points explain how you can continue to please your customers over the holidays.
Don’t close your business…
As tempting as it may be to close your business from Christmas Eve through to the new year, it’s imperative that you don’t – remember, just because you want to be staying at home over the Christmas period doesn’t mean that other people are doing the same and you’ll find that whilst sales might naturally be lower than other times of the year, you’ll still be receiving some income.
Of course, this isn’t as easy if you’re running a bricks and mortar store as it would is if your business is solely online, but rather than closing your doors for the whole of the holiday season, see if it’s possible to open for at least part of the Christmas period.
…but don’t work constantly, either
Although it’s important that your business is open so that people who want to shop with you can, you also need to be taking a break over Christmas and not working every single day.
Maybe operate on skeleton staff or just work every other day, but be sure that you’re taking advantage of the Christmas break, as everyone else will be.
Inform your customers of your plans
Whatever your plans are for Christmas, be sure to inform your customers of them.
Put a notice on your website, a post on your blog or even a simple note on your store’s front doors – whatever it is that you do, just make sure that your customers are fully aware of what they can expect from you over Christmas.
Setup an autoresponder on your e-mail
Simple and easy to do, you’ll be surprised at just how beneficial this is to maintaining a high level of customer service, as if a customer is trying to contact you, receiving a reply saying that you’re out of the office at present – stating the date that you’ll be returning - is a whole lot better than not receiving a reply at all.
If you operate a business where people rely on you, such as a service based business, it’s always a good idea to be contactable in case of emergencies.
You don’t need to be sat at your computer 24 hours a day or have a cell phone glued to your ear, but maybe setup an e-mail account for us in emergencies and setup your phone so that you receive these e-mails directly or even purchase a cheap cell phone, passing the number to colleagues or clients for us in emergencies only.
Check in every other day
At the end of the day, you’re running a business and as you’re in charge, you need to always have a close eye over what’s going on.
You don’t have to spend hours working over the Christmas period, speaking to clients and customers, but make sure that you check in every other day – have a read of your e-mail, check your phone messages and pick up your post. There might not be anything that can’t wait until the new year, but it’s always best to check.
What you have to always remember as a business owner is that your customers are everything and without them, your business wouldn’t succeed. Everyone is entitled to a day or two off during the year and for most businesses, you wouldn’t be expected to be working on Christmas Day or even operating fully until the new year, but you need to put plans in place to ensure that your customers can still be served by your business whether you’re there or not – a happy customer is the best type and the one that’s going to make your business succeed.
Note: This post was originally published on December 14, 2010 and was republished on its currently-listed publication date.