21 to 27 November
Yes, I know it’s not Christmas yet, but for a lot of businesses the run-up to the festive season is now starting in earnest.
For shops it can be one of the busiest times of the year. For restaurants and hotels there are Christmas lunches, dinners and events. Customers also suddenly waking up to the fact that they need something before Christmas and there are just weeks to go – for suppliers the pressure is on to get last-minute orders delivered in time. From taxi drivers to garage owners, from coach firms to stationery suppliers, from hairdressers to gas fitters, it can be a time of even greater pressure to keep customers happy.
It is also an opportunity for many businesses to attract much-needed custom, especially in the present economic climate. So every business wants a piece of the action.
Enjoyment under pressure
Customers are keen to bag a bargain so are looking for the best price, but what else are they looking for? There should be an element of enjoyment in Christmas shopping, but it can also be stressful for customers in the crush of the crowds, with web sites too busy to process orders, and holding music indicating telephone sales staff inundated with callers.
Businesses that can keep their cool, maintain courteous service under the pressure, ensure customers receive the same high standard of service at the busiest time can do well. But we all know it isn’t easy.
And what about staff? Perhaps we want people to come in early and stay later, to work harder and faster, but can we afford to pay them more? Customers who have left Christmas orders late are more demanding, piling pressure on staff. Do we appreciate what they’re going through, recognise the stress, give them all the tools and support they need?
Christmas sounds an effort for business.
But it can also be good for business, for employees and customers if we can take a moment – literally a moment – to pause and consider people and make sure we maintain standards of courtesy. We need to consider recognition and acknowledgement, what customers want, stress and pretty much everything in our courtesy toolkit.
So this week’s focus is to prepare ourselves for the Christmas rush, which we hope materialises, and – yes – enjoy it. It will be hard work and tiring, but when the last order has been dispatched, the last sale made, the last delivery dropped off, the last repair finished, the last satisfied customer waved out the door, let’s hope that everyone is happy and can enjoy the holiday, however they choose.
And let’s remember and be courteous to those who have to work through the holidays too!