Post-Holiday Observations Are the Gifts That Keep on Giving

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Christmas trees have begun to collect on the curb outside our window--including one of the pre-lit, artificial variety, oddly enough--indicating that the holiday season has officially come to an end. Yet, while stockings may no longer hang by the chimney with care, brands can still use the lessons learned over the last few months to develop new strategies for the year ahead.
Customer Strategy

Christmas trees have begun to collect on the curb outside our window--including one of the pre-lit, artificial variety, oddly enough--indicating that the holiday season has officially come to an end. Yet, while stockings may no longer hang by the chimney with care, brands can still use the lessons learned over the last few months to develop new strategies for the year ahead.For sustained success, companies must constantly examine where they've been to determine where they're going and where they want to be. Thus, as brands embark upon 2016, leaders must take the time to dissect all aspects of the customer experience, including voice of the customer feedback, to improve future initiatives at the granular level. Of course, it's nearly impossible to rectify every issue that arises, but here are three little problems that, if addressed, could make an enormous impact on customer satisfaction and brand relationships:

Handle Packages with Care

When packages specifically say FRAGILE or THIS END UP on the box, it's safe to assume that the delivery person would handle such products with the utmost care. Or so one might think. But, on numerous occasions throughout the holiday season, FedEx treated our goods with complete disregard. In one instance, we even watched the man toss our package up onto the porch from the bottom step, leaving it exposed for all the neighborhood to see in an era where thefts are all too common. UPS, on the other hand, was consistently conscientious, concealing each box to the best of their ability and ringing the doorbell before continuing their route. Such preventative measures are particularly welcome in cases where the retailers' name has been plastered all over the box. (Note to retailers: For safety's sake, send your goods in unmarked packaging. Don't tempt fate. No one else needs to know what I've ordered.)

Clearly Label Sale Merchandise

Now that all winter apparel has been relegated to the sale section to make way for the spring collections, it's an ideal time to stock up on the sweaters that were simply too pricey prior to the holiday. However, during one trip to Old Navy, we discovered one glaring discrepancy. The sweater my sister was searching for was hanging among the other "price drop" clearance items, yet it was the only piece that didn't have its own sign. When we asked the sales associate to price check the sweater, she revealed that it was literally the only item in the clearance section that wasn't actually on sale. Discouraged and displeased, we put the sweater back and left the store without completing the sale. Had they been honest with their product placement, perhaps this story might have ended differently.

Carefully Examine Returned Goods

Once the holiday rush subsides, shoppers can expect to find products that have been returned lining the shelves. Yet, while most get brought back in pristine condition, some items slip under the radar and land themselves back on the rack without so much as a 'damaged' tag. For example, my sister was on the hunt to replace her favorite Gap shirt after accidentally ruining hers, as she was sure she'd be able to find another on sale. While we couldn't find it in her size at the first store location we tried, I did discover that one of the sizes they did have was mutilated beyond repair. The shirt was ripped at the seam and shredded all along the hem, yet they were still charging the full sale price. Retailers need to make sure they inspect all returned items before putting them back on the floor to preserve the brand's reputation and maintain customer trust.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION