Keep your customers happy and avoid losing business in the festive season

Reports | Retail

Written by Mike Ianiri, Equinox

With many businesses shutting from Christmas Day through to after New Year’s Day and most schools not returning until 7th January it may feel as if everyone is off work and their offices shut. However, some people will still be working. How can you manage so that you don’t lose out on business from your customers over the holiday period?

Consider your customer

Are they likely to need you over the festive period?  When you think back to last year, did any of your customers comment about you not working? If they did, consider whether you need to have at least a skeleton staff working. Remember that many businesses will use the quiet time for planning for 2019.

Tell your customers

If you want to close down completely, make sure you tell your customers beforehand. Managing their expectations is key so that you don’t have unhappy customers that start looking for alternative providers.

Can you be on call?

You may not to have your team in the office, but can they be on call and then simply respond if needed?  You will have to pay them something on the days they are on call, so that they are available for work. We all want to chill out over the festive period and that may include a glass, or two, of something “festive”, but your staff cannot work if they’ve had one too many, so it’s only fair to compensate them if you’re asking them to be near their laptop or able to drive to a customer.

However, having one or two staff on call each day is far more cost effective than asking everyone to be in the office – or losing customers by not providing them with the support they need.

List your opening hours online

If you are going to close for the festive period, make sure your customers can clearly find out when you are next open for business. If they have been happy with your services in the past, they may be able to wait until you are next open.

Divert your calls

Whether you have a hosted VoIP solution or in-house PBX phone system, you will be able to divert your calls.

This may be to:

  • An answer machine that is checked regularly
  • An answer service such as Answer or Moneypenny, which will act as you and then pass on messages via email and/or text.
  • Divert to someone’s mobile. If you have someone on call, they are the ideal person to divert the call to. Most VoIP solutions allow you to log in and change that number so that the same person isn’t on call throughout the festive period.

Check your email

Even at Christmas our phones aren’t likely to be far from our sides, so a quick check will show whether you’ve got any emails from customers. Hopefully they will say in the email when they need a response. Be sensible about managing their expectations, as you may get a demanding customer expecting a response on Boxing Day!

Be cyber safe

Switch off all user PCs that will not be needed over the festive period. If they aren’t in use – power them down. This will help mitigate the effects of an unexpected data breach or virus attack; a lot of damage can be done over a week and if no one is around you might not be aware of the problem until you unlock the office on your first day back.

More businesses are staying open during the holiday period, for example Sainsburys and Tesco have stores which will be open on Christmas Day.  And of course, some retailers will open at crack of dawn on Boxing Day.  However if your business will be shut for some, or all of the festive season these tips can help you avoid losing business from people who are working and keep your customers happy.

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