…then your customer service sucks, period.
At least, unfortunately, that’s how it appears to your customers. (Though be sure to read to the end of this article for a silver lining.)
Look, I sympathize 100% about the stresses of this season. The seasonal landscape is very rocky: hard-to-handle spikes in orders, unusual hours, frantic timetables, heightened emotions, and of course the frustration of unwarranted, all-at-once customer returns.
But, in business, even in the face of all this, you can’t give yourself even temporary permission to lose your grip on the ball. Here’s why: The increased volume around the holidays means a greater likelihood that it’s the first time a customer ever interacts with your organization: The first time she orders from you, or the first time she tries to return something to you that was given to her as a gift. And if that experience is irritating, slow, confusing…you’ll never get a second chance.
For you, it’s just a day or three where the stresses of the season made you dip below your normal standards. But you can’t expect customers to cut you the same slack you cut yourself.
Consider Mother’s Day, and the food service debacle it often becomes. In my opinion, if a restaurant can’t handle providing its usual level of service in the midst of the chaos of Mother’s Day, then it doesn’t deserve to be open on Mother’s Day. As a customer service consultant of course I love to hear my foodservice and hospitality clients’ cash registers ring. But in this case, I don’t care how many wheelbarrows full of cash and charge slips come in that one day in May: I’d advise staying closed if you’re not up to the unique surge in volume. The temporary bottom line boost isn’t worth it if petri dishworthy eggs benedict and glacial service are all guests remember about you as they emphatically spend the other 364 days of the year making sure to dine elsewhere.
Of course, you can guess the happy flip side of this cautionary tale: If you do use the unique opportunities of the holidays to dazzle your customers (no matter how much advance planning, lost sleep, and/or overtime it costs you), they’ll know you can nail it, really nail it, the other 364 days.
PS: Here’s a quick article on handling holiday returns you may enjoy as we head into the post-holiday season.
Micah Solomon, author of “High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service“, is the business keynote speaker, author, and customer service expert termed by the Financial Post ”a new guru of customer service excellence.” Solomon is a top keynote speaker, strategist, and consultant on customer service issues, the customer experience, and company culture — and how they fit into today’s marketing and technology landscape. An entrepreneur and business leader, he previously coauthored the bestselling “Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit“.
Micah Solomon • Author-Speaker-Strategist • Customer Service – Marketing – Loyalty – Leadership
See Micah in action — including video and free resources — at http://www.micahsolomon.com. Or, click here for your own free chapter of Micah’s new book, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service (AMACOM Books) and Micah’s #1 bestseller, Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization