Ah, Black Friday ... the day after Thanksgiving, quite possibly the busiest shopping day of the year. I ventured out to a very busy shopping mall on Black Friday this year and watched the salespeople and the customers. Here are my observations.
Even if you're not a retailer, read on. There are lessons here that can be applied to any business that experiences a "busy season." It may not be a holiday rush — perhaps a special sale or trade show. But now, it's time to take on Black Friday.
Customers fell into at least two groups. Some were on a mission — for a particular item or a particular store — they were there for the deals, and they had a plan in mind before they hit the door. Others seemed to be enjoying the experience and browsing the sale items, shopping for themselves or seeking holiday gifts for family and friends. No matter their reason for being there on Black Friday, however, the customers had one thing in common: they faced busy stores with long lines and overworked salespeople.
And the salespeople? To say they were busy would be an understatement.
The stores were busier than usual, and accordingly, the check-out lines were long as well. Some customers seemed to be losing their patience.
For businesses, although the influx of shoppers during these busy times is a welcome sight, if they are not prepared it can cause difficulties as well. After working all year to be customer focused, the holiday rush is no time to slack off. The crowds, the longer hours and all the demands of the season call for an even greater level of customer service. You must ensure that both existing customers and new customers find an amazing service experience that will bring them back again.
Here are five strategies that will help. They are not new ideas, but are important reminders of common-sense solutions.
1. Ensure that the level of staffing is enough. Customers should still be able to find a salesperson for assistance while shopping, and their time waiting in line shouldn't be too different from that of other busy times. If it is, they may get frustrated — and leave.
2. Make sure the staff is trained to handle the volume. Offer special training on dealing with more than one customer at a time. Let them know when they are facing a busy shift.
3. Get employees excited. Busy times are good for the company's bottom line, but in the midst of racking up sales, don't let them forget to deliver great service as well. It would be a good idea to hold a daily team meeting to review the previous day — plan to repeat the good and avoid the bad.
4. Make it fun. Perhaps conduct a contest of some kind.
5. Teach by example. Treat the employees the way you want the customers to be treated, and make sure they know what's expected of them.
Are you ready for the rush? It's holiday time — let's get to work and make it amazing!