5 Tips for a Successful Black Friday Customer Experience
With just a week until Thanksgiving my main concern is whether the 16-pound turkey I've ordered will fit in my apartment-sized oven. Stores, on the other hand, are thinking beyond the bird, the stuffing, and the cranberry sauce and focusing more on the following day, the much anticipated Black Friday.
And yet, according to customer service expert and author Laurie Brown, in their eagerness to fill their coffers on one of the busiest days of the year, some stores are forgetting the most important thing: creating a great experience for their customers to ensure that first-timers will become regulars and regular customers will become advocates. "It's easy to focus on getting a bunch of people for the discounted prices and making money. But a one-time sale is not going to save a business," Brown argues.
Instead, companies need to focus on the long term and create the best customer experience to ensure that their clients enjoy their shopping trip and leave with a good impression of the store, which will hopefully translate into a return visit. Brown gives five tips on how to create a good experience for customers:
- Retailers need to make sure they have enough employees who are trained to handle the onslaught of customers. "The biggest mistake that a store can make is not having enough staff to deal with the increase in consumers," Brown says. Moreover, managers have to understand that employees need to be happy and comfortable on the day, putting them in the right frame of mind to give the best service. "There might not be time for the staff to take long breaks, so managers should make sure that there is food and water available," says Brown. Moreover, saying "thank you" and congratulating employees on a job well done goes a long way towards increasing morale.
- Just because they are getting a good deal is no excuse not to treat customers well. "Customers have an abundance of patience but they don't want to be ignored," Brown says. If there's a line to enter the store, customers should be greeted and perhaps offered a glass of hot cider or a piece of candy. Social media has given customers the power to broadcast their feelings, so a bad experience could be extremely problematic for stores. "Every customer is a VIP and needs to be treated as such," she says.
- Stores should use social media to update consumers on promotions, opening hours, and even stock availability. Brown argues that if a store knows it's running out of a particular item, it should let its customers know so that they don't get irritated if they don't find what they're looking for.
- Having people waiting outside for the doors to open might be a good sign. But even if the eager shoppers know they are early, nobody likes waiting outside, especially in the cold. "If your staff is ready, open the doors early. And make sure that you tell your customers that you did it for them," Brown says.
- Think of it as a party, Brown recommends. "Have fun and find ways to make it more enjoyable for everyone. Food and drink always make everything more festive," she says.
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