The ‘C’ Word!

Here I am, sat in the sun, kids have broken up from school and I’m contemplating how to keep them amused for the next six weeks, and then someone mentions Christmas.

It’s not even the end of July yet and already we’re starting to think about the festive period. Retailers have probably spent the last few months thinking about their Christmas stock and what they are going to buy in. Maybe even sorting out their marketing to make sure it’s all in place and visible in amongst all the other festive advertising, they might very well be thinking about staffing levels to make sure there’s enough cover to cope with the busy period, after all it’s the busiest time of the year and you have to have staff cover.

The Christmas period is the “banker”, have a bad Christmas and you might well be looking at how you can survive the next year.

It’s also crazy busy, and in the age of the online store you need to make sure that your customers get a great experience when they put down their iPhone and decide to come and visit your store to buy their Christmas gifts, otherwise we all know where they’ll go if they don’t.

So are you, or more importantly, your team, prepared for Christmas? When was the last time they had any customer service training? Have they ever had customer service Training?

A retailer that I was having a meeting with last year said to me that they were “too busy at Christmas to worry about customer service” I did mention that great customer service at Christmas will guarantee your loyal customers will keep returning throughout the year. Bad service, they will go somewhere else and a recent survey from the CEI found that 86% of customers will pay up to 25% more for a great customer experience. So if you can ace the Christmas shopping experience there will be more pounds in the till.

So now’s the time to start thinking about Christmas and how your team will cope, the first step is to carry out a training needs analysis. Have a think about your team and how they work together, do you have team members that avoid tricky situations or always refer to the manager when a decision needs to be made, does someone struggle with talking to customers, have you a member of staff who’s customer service skills aren’t great?

Once you’ve done this, identify what courses and workshops are out there that could help, it doesn’t need to be expensive courses that result in a professional qualification, it could just be a 3 hour workshop that helps your team get to grips with the key elements of fantastic service and great customer experience.

Whatever you choose to do, now is the time to start planning for Christmas, training should take place in September or October so your teams are ready for the busy time to start in November.

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