BBC News reported this week that a mum spat in the face of a Christmas elf and verbally abused others in a shopping centre in Stockton. It seems she lost her temper when she couldn’t take her child into the grotto because she did not have a booking. Christmas can be a lot of fun but it can also be hard work; not just for customers but also for those on the other side of the counter, or grotto in this case.
Since when did Christmas become such a stressed out bun fight? There hasn’t been one day this year when I haven’t read somewhere about people being stressed, anxious, upset and just sheer exhausted in the build up to what should be one of the loveliest heart warming days of the year!
I’ve also had a slight nervous breakdown of my own this week because of a poor customer experience but I don’t think that my reaction had any positive effects whatsoever. This got me thinking that surely we can improve our own customer service experience by being better customers ourselves. In the case of elf abuse, it was clearly a frustrating and upsetting situation but was there really any need to react in this way? Whatever happened to Christmas spirit, as we know it?
So here they are: 5 ways to keep that Christmas spirit, save our sanity and be a better customer this Christmas!
Remember to smile and say hello, please and thank you
This is such an obvious thing to do but basic manners are often forgotten especially when you’re hot, tired, stressed, under time pressure and slowly losing the will to live trailing around the shops for those gifts you just cannot find or when you realise that something you have planned to do hasn’t worked out as hoped.
Use social media to praise and champion excellent service rather than just picking up the negatives
We are always very quick to tackle a company if something has gone wrong but not so quick to recognise excellent customer service. At this time of year, if we have an experience that we are unhappy with then we still do not hesitate to complain but when was the last time at Christmas you said thank you to a company when something went well? There just doesn’t seem to be the time for the niceties.
Be patient and be prepared to wait
There’s never enough hours in the day as it is, never mind in the run up to Christmas. 101 things to achieve and no time to do so! There will inevitably be more queues at Christmas so if you’re like me and hate waiting then you might save yourself a bit of stress this year by expecting to wait and if you don’t have to, then it’s a nice festive bonus! Listening to music in the queue always passes the time and since we’re always on our smart phones nowadays, catch up with a few emails or text a friend who you’ve been meaning to get in touch with.
Understand that those in the customer service industry work longer hours at Christmas and for little extra thanks
With the madness of Christmas there really is no rest for the wicked with staff in the retail, travel and hospitality industries working harder than ever and for little extra thanks for doing so. Expectations seem higher at Christmas as we strive to make it ‘the best one ever’ so there’s a lot more pressure on those behind the counter to get things right. Cut them a break this Christmas by keeping demands to a minimum and maxing out those thank you’s instead? You might be pleasantly surprised at the results!
Accept that as customer you may be wrong
Shock horror, contrary to popular belief, the customer is not always right. If booking is required and this information is clearly displayed then booking is required. If there’s a no returns policy unless product faulty and again this information is clearly conveyed to customer before purchase, then you will not get a refund unless product is faulty. There is little point arguing but if you are going to do so then you’ll achieve a lot more by being a nicer customer than a grumpy, difficult one- like me!
Happy Christmas everyone! Here’s to being better festive customers!