Help Desk

Capitalising on the festive season

Mat Wylie has advice to make the most of the sudden influx of customers during the Christmas rush.

You might not want to admit it’s come up so quickly, but if you want to make the most of your busiest, and potentially best, Christmas season yet, you need to be prepared.
Christmas as a retail period is incredibly busy for everyone, and the busy atmosphere can make it harder to maintain focus on the customer experience and even harder to give customers a great experience. It’s also the time of year that defines financial success for many retailers; a chance to engage with new customers and a fantastic opportunity to build relationships with returning ones. Because a business will not grow by having new customers coming in and out the back door, retention and repurchasing is key to business success.

During the holiday season stores can take in 25 to 30 percent, or more, of their trading sales for the year. For those that do well it’s a time of seizing sales opportunities and growing the customer base; however, your store must be up for the challenge.

Here’re some tips for planning for the festive season:

  • Team rosters. Ensure your staff are set up for success. Having the right amount of staff is vital – too many can mean they’re overly helpful and too few can mean you miss sales with customers who can’t be bothered waiting. Both are expensive moves to make. Look back to last year’s rosters and see what worked well and what didn’t.
  • Staff attitude. Your staff are the direct face of your business and have your reputation on the line. During busy times, long days in retail can be tough and this is where we often see a drop in customer satisfaction. Customer experience is significantly affected when staff are tired, so make sure they’re on form on the floor by having appropriate breaks.
  • Training. Pull your team aside and discuss priorities, especially if there are newbies on board. Train them to focus on the customer experience and coach them to be more patient and tolerant. Staff should communicate with customers at all points of the experience; the customer should know how you are helping them at every step.
  • Distractions. At this time of year, it’s harder than ever to get people’s time and attention. Customers are less likely to wait around to be served, and waiting too long to process a sale is one of the biggest gripes for unhappy customers. Think about what you can do in your store to make waiting in line easier or more exciting. If there’s a form they need to complete at the counter, can a staff member be helping them fill it out in the line? Is there a mobile app that will help simplify and speed up sales in store? Entertainment or handing out goodies and discount incentives can also be fantastic ways to buy some time in the queue.
  • Ask for feedback. Feedback means you can see what’s going on and provides a chance to turn a customer round. Measured from last year’s Christmas rush, customer satisfaction levels across the board of Customer Radar’s retail industry clients showed customer experience to have dropped by only three percent across all retailers using that technology. With feedback technology, customer grievances or issues are minimised because retailers have the control to be across, and quickly change, what is going wrong for a customer.

Christmas can be a tricky time but remember that a customer only sees what’s going on in front of them. They’ll always take the experience at face value: how much attention they’ve been given, how much help they’ve been offered, how friendly and pleasant their experience has been. If you can get all staff to focus on creating the best possible experience for every customer, you’ll create raving fans who will come back!

Publishing Information
Magazine Issue: NZBusiness December 2015 Page Number: 42