6 ways to deliver stressless service in the holiday season
"Once again, we come to the holiday season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his or her choice." It was humorist Dave Barry's way of characterizing theseason of stress if you work in the retail world. After all, they don't call it Black Friday for nothing.
Retailers can feel like slaves to demanding consumers seemingly driven by greed, not by generosity! And, the overload can create burnout for those on the firing line. But, stress-less success during the hectic season can come from acting as a host, not as a slave.
The word host carries many meanings, each painted in the color "help." It is a perfect moniker for the ambassador of the brand during busy holidays. At the same time, it is an antidote to the stress that can come from being constantly under the gun.
Here are six simple ways to deliver stress-less service that matches the true sentiment of the season.
Focus on serving a customer
Read that line again and pay attention to its singular predicate. Great hosts do not think of the target of their service efforts in plural…they only think in singular. Service is remembered and valued when it feels personalized by the customer. The truth is you are likely processing a million details to ensure customers get what they need. But all of that should be kept in the background. Customers don't want to hear about inventory, policies, and how long you have been on your feet. If the next customer you serve was your child or grandchild, would your countenance be grumpy? Make customers feel your foreground is a laser-like focus on them and their unique needs.
Be a service choreographer
Just like the key to a confidently delivered a speech is solid preparation, be prepared to serve. A great customer experience requires managing an amalgamation of diverse elements. Failure on one dimension can color the experience dark for customers. A waitress might be super friendly but if she can't get orders right her weakness overshadows her strengths. Disheveled displays, unorganized layout and cumbersome purchasing processes (whether online or in person) get generalized to the products they front. Preparation brings competence; it also reduces your potential for service fatigue.
Master the details that matter
Effective hosts master the “little things” and manage the customer's experience from end-to-end. They know it is not the lions and tigers that usually doom service quality, it is the gnats and mosquitoes — those tiny irritants easy to overlook but often deliver aggravation out of proportion to their size. Be ready, pay close attention, and keep a watchful eye out for gremlins that frustrate customers while ramping up your stress.
Be an animator, not a fixture
I was working at the beautiful Wynn hotel in Las Vegas. The doorman was standing near the entrance area surveying the lobby. "I bet this job gets boring, doesn't it?" I queried. "Oh, no sir, I love my job and I love the Wynn," he responded. He continued, "I came here because the last hotel I worked for wanted people in my job to be like fixtures…to react only if a guest needed directions or a taxi or limo. Not at the Wynn. Even though I may be standing in one spot, my job is to always be on the lookout for ways to surprise our guests…to approach and respond even before they ask. That's what the Wynn is all about. And, it's never boring."
Create made-to-order service experiences
Tom Berger has been my financial advisor for many years. He is the epitome of "made-to-order" service. He is always as upbeat and as positive as I want my financial portfolio to remain. He starts our frequent financial review discussions with sincere interest in my work and family — topics he knows will light me up. And, every conversation comes with an animated, layman's level mini-lesson on financial management. Great hosts are forever seeking ways to make the customer's experience go effortless. But, more than that, they look for ways to make customers joyful. Research shows “random acts of kindnesses” actually reduces the stress of the perpetrator, not just its target.
View processes through the eyes of customers
Great hosts don't see customers through the lens of the organization; they see the organization through the lens of customers. They can quickly size up a prospective service interaction, spot the breakdowns waiting to happen, and adjust accordingly. Armed with a customer perspective they are able to anticipate, problem-solve, and be sincerely empathetic. Such resourcefulness always wins the praise of busy shoppers.
‘Tis the season of good cheer! And, you can be the recipient of a festive season even while dealing with impatient customers, long lines, and arduous hours. Assume the role of great host and watch your stress subside, your morale climb, and your customers smile.
Topics: Customer Experience, Customer Service, Digital Merchandising, eCommerce, Marketing, Merchandising, Omnichannel / Multichannel, Online Retailing, Psychology, Retail - General, Shopper Marketing
Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and author of several best-selling books including Take Their Breath Away, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences through Innovative Service and Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles. He can be reached at chipbell.com.www