Black Friday: Synonymous with long lines, deep discounts, a turkey-hangover, and shopping!
Some think of it as the shopping equivalent of spending time in the Thunderdome. I find it to be a great time to sharpen my service acumen.
The term was coined in the sixties in Philadelphia in response to the heavy pedestrian and street traffic associated with the day. Later the term would be associated with the time of year when companies would start making money or “get into the black.” Regardless of its origin and usage, it is a part of our culture, marking the official beginning to the holiday shopping season.
If you are out during this annual shopping extravaganza, keep your eyes open for those who do a particularly great job here. I personally think that Target, Meijer, Lowes, and Barnes and Noble do very well on this day and during the entire season.
Here are some of the great ideas you should be looking at:
Extra Points of Service: Many retailers are exceptionally busy during the holidays and some win and others lose with their speed of service. Those who win most, often employ additional service points. You may see mobile carts with cash registers or folks employing wireless tablets to check out those with just a few items. At the big-boxes, you’ll often see folks at the jewelry counter or lawn and garden areas trolling near the checkout lines for Customers. Often folks forget that there are registers in those areas, so they are underutilized.
Managers are front and Center: There is no doubt that Leaders should always be out Owning Their Dirt, but you see them, like the Mayor of Retail on Black Friday, out shaking hands, answering questions, and keeping lines flowing. Imagine if they ran their stores that way every day. Powerful!
Upcoming Items are Being Previewed: There is always a sense of wonder during the holidays, and with the New Year right around the corner, “what’s next” is always top of mind. Often retailers will be previewing the next big thing to start building excitement for the future.
Thankfulness Abounds: Just like the glut of top ten lists that start to emerge, so does the appreciation. This is always a time when businesses send out holiday cards and New Year’s wishes full of thanks and hope. There is never a wrong time of year to say thank you.
These are all fantastic examples of how retailers and businesses crush great service on Black Friday. Now I know it’s easy to lament the long lines, hot stores, and rude fellow shoppers, but when you think about the fact that many businesses do over 20% of their annual sales during the holidays, it gives perspective on just how well they do.
So what should you do with all this great info?
Take time to thank your Customers – Not just because it’s the holidays, but every day. Many businesses send out thank you cards and give out rewards for being loyal shoppers when the snow starts to fall. That is a practice folks will appreciate year round.
Keep that service pressure up every day just like during the busy seasons. Strive for faster speed of service at check out and continue to train the team to be efficient and courteous at the same time. The idea of those two things being mutually exclusive is a recipe for disaster.
Give Customers a sneak peak: Do you have new ideas and products coming down the pipe? Don’t forget the marketing genius of sneak peeks well prior to the official release. Think about how much fun the previews at the movies are when you are catching a flick – this is exactly the same idea.
Do something a little Extra that adds a WOW: For example, if someone asks for directions to a certain department, don’t just point, walk them there. This is a step that most won’t take, which means this can set you apart with very little effort. How great is that?!?
Invoke Technology: Just like retailers utilize mobile technology to improve throughput at the POS, you should be thinking each day how it can improve your Customer’s experience. It should never be used just for the sake of something shiny, but when it can bring real improvement to the experience.
Keep these great ideas in mind during the holidays and well beyond, as this kind of attention can build a solid emotional connection. The end result of this commitment to your brand is consistency, which is the building block of Customer loyalty. Couple that with a commitment to sustain this holiday excellence and make it a part of your service DNA, and your Customers will return for years to come.
Until next time, don’t forget to treat your Customers as cherished friends.
Tony Johnson -Customer Service Leader and Speaker-
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