This Holiday, offer 7…

Big Doses of Customer Service

Holiday Wreath

Holiday Wreath

This may surprise you, but there are customers who are looking for something over and above just price discounts during the holidays.  These customers don’t stand in long lines for Black Friday sales.  These customers want their holiday shopping to be easier, less hectic, less time consuming and far less frustrating.  Some want to know that their dollars are doing double duty by supporting the environment, or the community, or those in need.

Your challenge is to figure out how you can help these customers achieve their holiday goals while making sales better for your retail store.  What extra step can you take that the big retail operators won’t?

I think it all boils down to big doses of TLC or tender loving care.  Here are a few suggestions along those lines.

1.  Start by thanking each and every one of them for their support throughout the year.  Do it in-person as well as through your communications.  Let them know just how important their support has been to your business and how much you value them.  Everyone loves to be recognized for their contribution and the holidays are a really good time to give your customers a giant bear hug of a thank you.

2.  Deliver big doses of stellar customer care. Make certain that each customer who walks out of your retail store does so with a giant smile and a great experience to share with their friends and family.  Go the extra step with free gift wrapping , free shipping, a phone call when an item they wanted arrives in your store, a special holiday rewards program.

3.  Determine how your retail operation is different than the big retail chains or other local competitors.  Has your store been around the longest?  Are you or does your company have a long history or involvement in charities?  Do you make it a practice to be green in your business dealings?  Do you source from local are companies so when you customers buy from you they’re not only helping your business, they’re supporting another local area company?   How green are you in your business operations? Do you support some very important local community cause or event?  Think about what makes you and your retail business different and stress that difference in all of your communications during the Holidays.

4.  If you market a product that is in high demand but low supply, use your Holiday Alerts and other communications tools to keep your customers apprised of that product’s availability.  They’ll appreciate your efforts.

5.  Become Santa’s Helper by helping your customers.  Maybe you can offer your customers a Santa’s Wish List that they could put together of specific items they would like as gifts from your store to make the shopping process by their loved ones easier.  This way, your customer receives exactly what they want for the Holidays and their family, friends are assisted by taking the guess work out of the process.

6.  Create Holiday Bundles.  You know which products are in high demand and which are not.  Think of how you might bundle product offerings that will communicate a better value than a stand alone product so you can offer your customers real value during the holidays.

7.  Accept that not every customer will purchase the first time they walk in.  Many will just be shopping for holiday ideas and won’t make up their minds until they’ve finished that process or they’ve run out of time.  Offer product alternatives.  Offer to contact them when the shipment arrives. You may even want to offer to locate the product for them or offer free shipping once the desired product is in stock.  Whatever the situation, make it your goal to give them a reason to leave their phone number, email address, mobile number and follow-up with them.

The stakes may be high during the Holidays, but the same sound marketing principles apply all year long. Treat your customers the way you want to be treated and you’ll be richly rewarded.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila simplifies marketing and social media for small business owners. She offers straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results. She has four decades of experience in all phases of marketing including communications, research, strategy and social media. Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn |Twitter

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