Christmas is fast approaching, and it’s one of the busiest times for different sectors all across the world.
Even when you’re rushed off your feet, you can’t afford for your customer service to take a back seat. As a business, the customer is your main reason for existing, and you shouldn’t be afraid to pull out all the stops to keep them happy.
Given the time of year, there’s one person in particular that we can look to for inspiration on giving excellent customer service, and that is Father Christmas. We’ve taken a closer look at the work that Santa does, and chosen five of his best customer service lessons that businesses everywhere should be following.
1. Be friendly
There are certain traits that embody Father Christmas and are as synonymous with the name as the red suit.
While we’re not suggesting that you take a leaf straight out of his book, there’s certainly nothing wrong with injecting a little more friendliness into your customer service.
“Smile while you dial” is a well-known phrase amongst call centre workers, as the smile on your face comes across in your tone of voice. If you’re more customer-facing, be helpful every time you see a customer in need.
They may say no, but at least you’ve acknowledged their presence and shown them that you are willing to help.
2. Have the right team around you
Even the very best at their jobs need support around them; after all, Father Christmas doesn’t do it all alone! Throughout the year he has elves making the toys, and on Christmas Eve it’s up to his reindeer to fly him and all the presents around the globe to make millions of deliveries.
Your employees and co-workers may not have pointy ears or antlers, but they have the exact same value. Providing great customer support is a team effort; it isn’t just down to one single person, and it starts as soon as your customer first comes into contact with your business. From the first “hello” from a receptionist to tweets from a company’s Twitter account, every employee they come into contact with from that moment on should all be pulling in the same direction.
3. Prepare all year round
There’s no rest for Father Christmas, and the same rings true for customer service. As soon as one Christmas ends, the North Pole gets right back to work again preparing next year’s presents. The very best customer service strategies follow a similar process, always putting the customer first. Whether that means staying a little later to answer a client email or going above and beyond to find the perfect product for a waiting customer.
Especially in today’s constantly connected world where social media never sleeps, it is essential that your customer service is up to scratch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can’t afford to let anything slip through the cracks. A bad experience in April could put someone off returning later in the year, when the time comes to stock up on presents for the festive season. Avoid a potential lifetime of damage for your brand by staying on top of your customer service all year round.
4. Give people what they want… Without spoiling them
Is the customer always right? Some say yes, whereas an increasing number of people are saying no. Whilst it’s important to make customers feel valued and give them what they are asking for, there comes a point when giving them everything they want actually becomes detrimental. If they start making unreasonable demands, bending over backwards is only going to eat away at your finite resources and result in poorer standards of service for your other customers.
No doubt Father Christmas encounters the same problem dozens, if not hundreds, of times a year. And he understands that giving into the demands of children with huge wish lists isn’t going to do them any good.
Instead, he recognises what his customers really need in the long term, rather than what they think they want in the short term.
It’s a difficult balance to get right, and one that can be even trickier to implement, especially if you’re used to saying ‘yes’ to every customer demand. But with practice and determination, you will learn to rid yourself of difficult customers and then focus your efforts and resources on the customers who will keep returning.
5. Pull out all the stops
For every unreasonable customer you come across, there will be dozens of friendly and perfectly reasonable ones lining up behind them. And it’s on those customers that you should focus your attention.
Here’s where you can truly learn an incredible final lesson from Father Christmas. Millions of children send him letters each year and he reads every single one. He pays fair attention to each customer and does his best to honour each request. He keeps an eye on seven billion clients, and works hard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year to make sure every gift is delivered to the right person on time. And he does it all with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
With thanks to Lucie Greenwood, Managing Director at affordable virtual assistant, i am ava