Management December 7, 2015 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,521 Reads share

Surviving December 26: A Guide to Managing the Post Holiday Rush

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You made it! The craziness of the holiday season has come and gone. The shoppers are done wrapping their gifts. The travelers are heading home after enjoying time with their loved ones. Now, you’re ready to breathe a sigh of relief, right? Not quite.

Handling an Influx of Post-Holiday Stressors

The post-holiday rush can be just as daunting. Children’s toys that won’t be used get returned. Clothes that don’t fit or aren’t the right style get returned. Hotel checkouts get temperamental when guest services find out something went wrong during a family’s stay. Families are exhausted, which means, tensions are higher than ever before.

During the heightened tensions, you’re worried.

  • What will customers say on Trip Advisor once they get home?
  • Will I see bad reviews on Facebook and Google?
  • How can I hold on to some of our holiday revenues amidst all these returns?

Throughout all the worry, you’re also dealing with a rush of post-holiday shoppers and travelers. These are the people who want to take advantage of sales, discounts, and cheaper offers. The crowds you meet are varied, which makes it harder to anticipate each customer’s concern.

Yes, there are plenty of post-holiday stressors wreaking havoc on your business right now. To help avoid the madness, here are a few helpful tips.

Train Your Team Now

You just got done training your team for the holiday shopping craze. Now, you need to train them for what comes next – the aftermath of the holiday season.

Training your team early on to handle returns, checkouts, and upset customers is vital. A bad situation is actually a strong opportunity for your business. The way you handle a customer’s complaint could have a bigger impact on how well your business does overall. For example, if a customer had a bad experience but was pleased with how well it was handled, she might be more likely to go online and leave a raving review than if she hadn’t gone through the trouble with your business.

Train your team now to know how to handle these situations so they’re not caught off guard when your doors open on December 26th.

Maintaining Excellent Customer Service

The last thing you can afford to let slip (and perhaps the thing you have the most control over in your business) is customer service.

Customer service can make or break a bad situation. In today’s world of instant gratification, customers have proven to have higher expectations than ever before. This only adds more stress to the already chaotic season.

Maintaining your service levels is a must. To empower your team to uphold strong service levels (even when you’re not around) here are a few tips.

  • Give your employees more freedom to resolve concerns. One of the easiest ways to manage customer concerns is to take care of them on the spot. If you’re not available to help with a customer request, your employee should have the power to handle it instead. You’ve already done the training. Now trust your team to follow through.
  • Offer self-service. Waiting in long lines is torture, according to one New York Times report. The more you can let your customers handle concerns on their own, the happier they will be. Don’t let this take the place of live agents though! Each customer’s needs and preferences are different.
  • Divide your team up according to their best talents. Do you have one person who’s better at restocking and another who is better at talking to the public? Divide your team up and place them where they’re best suited. You’ll have happier customers and happier employees. Monitor your schedule to make sure you always have a well balanced team on staff to make this happen.

Keeping Your Employees Motivated

Throughout the customer concerns, don’t forget the most important people in your business – your employees. These are the people who must be happy at work to get the job done well. If not, everyone suffers (including your sales).

There are a few ways to keep your employees highly motivated, even during the post holiday rush when they’re already exhausted from the job’s demands.

  • Mix Things Up. A big frustration is boredom at work. People who feel like they’re in a rut are less likely to enjoy what they’re doing. Mix up each person’s role so they don’t get complacent and bored on the job. This is especially important for customer service representatives who will need a break from being the sounding board once in awhile.
  • Offer a Pat on the Back. If you see your employee doing an exceptional job, give him a pat on the back. Let him know his hard work is seen, acknowledged and appreciated. This will inspire him to continue to provide exceptional service. Without it, he could feel like he is not valued, causing him to slack off when you need him the most.
  • Set a Good Example. Your team follows your lead. The better you show them what’s expected, the better they will perform. Never ask your team to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. It sets a bad precedent and makes the team feel less important.
  • Encourage Creativity. While handling customer concerns, encourage your team to get creative in their resolution. They’ll feel more at liberty to handle things the way they see best. Zappos built their company on this idea. Give your team freedom and encourage their creative resolution process and you’ll see everyone a little bit happier in the long run.

The Post Holiday Rush Doesn’t Have to Drain Your Business

The holiday aftermath doesn’t have to be a drain on your bottom line or employee morale. With these tips you can foster a fun workplace, even in the midst of customer tensions and difficulty. By managing your schedule well with the right team on hand at all times and training your employees in advance, you will set yourself up for success.

And when it’s all said and done, treat your team to a special meal. After all, they’ve earned it!

Images “After Christmas sale./  Shutterstock.com

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Jon Forknell

Jon Forknell

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