The holidays may be a joyful time for many consumers, but they're a harried time full of stress for others. U.S. consumers are projected to spend as much as $965 billion between November 2015 and January 2016, and retailers can't wait to cash in. The National Retail Federation estimates 20% of a company's sales come during the last two months of the year.
However, the holiday season is about more than just raking in the cash for a few months. It's also a great opportunity to build an enduring relationship with customers and invite them to come back throughout the year. Focus on going the extra mile to delight your customers this holiday season and take them away from the stress and worry of finding the time and money to do it all.
Here are six easy ways to do it:
1. Stay Adequately Staffed
People naturally expect longer wait times during the holidays, but nothing is more frustrating than lingering around in an understaffed store. It's usually a major challenge to find quality part-time and seasonal employees, but it's still vital to your business' success regardless of the holiday season. Customers who need to wait around just to have a simple question answered or an item stocked won't be back anytime soon.
2. Keep Your Website Completely Up to Date
Shopping online is expected to bring in as much as $105 billion during November and December this year. You can't afford to have an old, outdated website or skip your online shopping portal altogether. And you can't afford a slow-loading website and errors. Avoid making coding changes during the holidays that could cause an avalanche of technical issues. Keep your website up to date from your About Page to your checkout process, and delight customers by the simple, smooth shopping process.
3. Offer Great Incentives for the Holidays and Beyond
Business owners already know offering fantastic sales and incentives goes a long way toward drawing customers into your store. Get inventive and do something aside from the traditional price slashing. Offer a "best of the year" sale that's too good to ignore and reflects your lowest price you offer. Next, think ahead and find ways to keep bringing them back. Try a 10% off coupon that's only good in January, or a coupon for a discount if they refer a new customer by March 1.
4. Keep Your Policies Consistent
Things are bound to go wrong during the holiday season, even in the best stores. There's few things more frustrating to a customer than getting two different answers from two different people. The only thing worse may be waiting an hour for a missing manager to make an exception and resolve your issue. Make sure everyone on your staff is clear about return policies, specials, extra deals, and how to handle complaints. For anything else, empower them to make simple decisions that benefit the customer. Fixing customer issues and smoothing out the issues can turn an unhappy buyer into future repeat business.
5. Offer the Absolute BEST Customer Service
The holiday rush is no excuse to let your customer service fall by the wayside. Spending time recruiting extra staff is only half of the solution. It's also crucial to thoroughly train them and ensure they are ready and willing to help your customers. Set-up special employee incentives during the busy holiday season to motivate their performance. Streamline your customer service efforts by using online chat tools like LeadChat, Zopim, or Intercom and tackle issues through live chat. Providing top-tier customer service during the holidays makes a lasting impression and draws repeat business throughout the year.
6. Include a Personal Touch
No one likes being treated like a number, and that includes customers during the holiday rush. Don't treat your customers like cattle and herd them in and out of your store as quickly as possible just to maximize sales and profit. Instead, offer a personal touch like free wrapping for in-store purchases, or mailing out a personalized thank you card after an online order. People love to feel appreciated, and a "Thank You", smile, and surprise bonus is an easy and inexpensive way to appreciate customers during the holidays.
Some retailers are just looking to survive the busy holiday season while making as much money as possible. Don't be that store. Instead, take the time to implement these six easy ways to delight your customers this holiday season. Your customers - and your bottom line - will continue to grow throughout the year.
How do you delight customers during the holidays? Share any other suggestions you have in the comments below: