Cap­i­tal­is­ing on the fes­tive sea­son

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

NZ Business - - HELP DESK -

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:

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.

Team ros­ters.

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.

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.

At this time of year, it’s harder than ever

Train­ing.

Dis­trac­tions.

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.

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!

Ask for feed­back.

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