Tis the season to be jolly. Tis also the season that leaves room for some serious customer experience faux pas.
At this time of year, some staff are starting to wind down. Some businesses may even close over the Christmas period, but for others it is the busiest time of year. Whichever category your business fits into, you can be sure that each of those changes could impact how your customers interact with your products and services.
The good news is that this is also a fantastic chance to lead by example, set the standard for other companies to follow, and gain loyal customers who will continue to spend with you for years to come if you do things well.
So what does it take to get through Christmas the ‘right way’? Here are just a few of my ‘CXmas’ top tips.
1. Great communication
We can get so busy thinking about Christmas, which presents to buy for who, what to cook – and now there’s the added pressure of how to juggle the Covid rules about who we can and can’t see. That’s before we even think about work, Christmas shutdowns, and unusual hours for the customer service team.
If there will be changes to your opening hours, or to the hours your customers can reach out and speak to you, communicate these clearly and regularly to your customers to make sure any emails don’t get lost in the increased emails that come with purchase receipts and Christmas offers. Make sure the subject line clearly states that the email contains important information about your hours of operation.
2. Appreciated employees
It can be a stressful time of year for our teams, but it can also be more tempting to take things a bit easy, to celebrate with colleagues, and generally have a bit of fun. That’s no bad thing. Your staff work very hard all year round, and if you want motivated and happy teams this Christmas then thanking them with a bit of Christmas fun or some bonus time off to do the shopping and to put up decorations will go a long way.
It’s worth noting that January is always the busiest time of year for the recruitment market. Often people look for new jobs to start the new year. Whilst that can mean the possibility of an influx of talent into your organisation if you are recruiting, it’s also possible that it could go the other way.
If your staff don’t feel appreciated and don’t enjoy what they do, then they are more likely to start the new year on the hunt for pastures new.
Losing an employee right now could have significant consequences. It could impact team morale, it could pile more pressure onto the remaining staff members increasing the chances of things going wrong, and it would mean a loss of knowledge and training that can take months or even years to replace. When valuable employees leave it can be bad for the business, bad for the teams left behind, and bad for the overall customer experience.
So, if you are a business owner or senior leader, consider the little ways you can say thank you this year – they could make all the difference!
3. Sleigh-loads of empathy
Our staff and our customers will likely be experiencing an increase in stress or anxiety. Christmas is ostensibly a happy time, but for some it can mean spending the day alone, in work or finding extra money to cope with the added demands of present buying and entertaining.
Increased stress can lead to forgetfulness, mistakes, and shorter fuses in the workplace. They can also manifest in our customers by way of an increase in complaints.
Prepare any leadership staff and their teams to be mindful of this when entering into any potentially complex conversations and to take a breath before responding. Consider how the other person may be feeling and what may have driven them to shout or lose patience with your business.
Approaching complaint handling conversations, staff appraisals, and your general communications with extra empathy will never be a bad thing and, if done well, could improve outcomes for everyone.
4. A dashing of flexibility
Christmas can often result in presents being bought that are unwanted, or gift vouchers that can expire before being used.
With Covid still causing large parts of the economy to be shut-down, be flexible with how and when you let people return items to you and also with when you let them redeem a gift voucher. When it comes to gift vouchers, don’t forget that you have the money already, so you owe them a service in exchange. Quibbling about a gift voucher that is out of date because the customer has struggled to use it due to Covid restrictions will only make you and your brand come across as greedy and like you actually don’t value your customers.
The opposite is true if you welcome your customers with open arms and add an element of humanity to your approach. Empower your customer-facing teams to make decisions they feel will benefit the customer and the benefit to your business will last long into the New Year.
So there you have it, my top tips to surviving the festive season and for making sure your brand makes it onto the nice list.