Have a very happy New Year!
Thanks to all of you who have contributed to making this past year meaningful to me and to so many others. I look forward to another great year full of new adventures, challenges, successes, failures and things to learn.
Be safe, be grateful and enjoy yourself.
If you’re reading this, thanks, I appreciate the support but tomorrow is Christmas Day so stop reading and go spend some time with your family and friends. God bless and have a great holiday tomorrow and then get ready for a big, successful new year. Cheers!
It’s been quite a year. We’ve had a tweeting, self-obsessed President, tragic shootings and terrorist events, sexual harassment scandals, government impasse, protest at sporting events, racial tension, you name it, it seems we’ve had it this year, and so much of it infects us with negative energy and stress. I heard someone the other day saying that the holidays feel difficult this year because of all of the negativity surrounding us.
My challenge for what’s left of this holiday season is to share something good with everyone you meet over the next few days. It will be hard. There will be things that get on your nerves and things that stretch your patience but do it, just do it. When someone is pulling on your last nerve, find something kind to do. Find the random act that will change everything. Find a way to help. Find a way to bring a smile. Find what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” and just be the difference for someone.
These last few days of holiday shopping and socializing can be great times but they can also, ironically, bring out the worst in people. Take the challenge and find the best in yourself to share no matter what. Be someone’s reason to smile.
Shopping during holiday season can be a test of even the best of us. I think even the Dalai Lama might have his patience tested. But this can be an opportunity if you think of it correctly. Your business can use this challenge as a way to differentiate and provide a better experience for your customers.
The first thing we need to do is determine the cause of all the stress. I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that it is largely a matter of time. Everyone is rushing around trying to not only shop but also make it to all of the events and parties of the season while keeping up with the normal life of work and home. Fitting everything in can be a big challenge and a big stress driver. This makes time a highly prized commodity.
So here is your opportunity, get really efficient and make responsiveness and timeliness a priority. Here are three things you can do now.
- If you have a call center, ensure you have a clear process for determining what issues get handled first and exactly who will take care of specific problems. Gauging urgency and getting the right person handling it immediately will save enormous amounts of time and provide a better customer experience.
- Empower your employees to handle as much as possible without the need for managerial support. This requires trust and clear guidelines but giving your employees the ability to use their best judgement will allow for fast, personalized service with fewer hassles and quicker results.
- Equip every employee in your company to answer basic questions particularly ones you know are asked regularly during the holiday season. Additionally, ensure all employees know where to direct customers when questions get too technical or detailed. Having more people available for basic help as well as more direction for more expert help can be a big time saver.
Remember, the goal here is to save the customer time and reduce their stress. By adding these ideas to your arsenal, you can help your customers to enjoy their experience with you and to better enjoy their holidays.
The holiday season begins and people are out getting gifts for others. Many times it seems people are just buying because it’s the thing to do rather than doing it because they really want to share something meaningful.
I like getting gifts as much as anybody but I find myself wanting less and less stuff and more and more meaning. Have you ever thought about this as you are purchasing those gifts? Have you thought about the meaning you are trying to share? Is it just stuff or is it a tangible memory of a message you want to share?
I have a 15-year-old golf bag that is heavy by today’s standards and my friends often ask why I don’t get a lighter one. I tell them that I can’t because it is the best Father’s Day gift I ever got. My wife and kids surprised me with it and I just can’t let it go. It is a symbol of my family’s love and care. How many holiday gifts do you get that have meaning like that? How many things are just things and how many are things you can’t let go because of their meaning? Think about what you are buying and giving. Do your gifts have meaning behind them or are they just obligations?
Now think about your work. All of our work is ultimately in service of others; this is just a fact of business. We are all in business to help others achieve something. Do you do what you do because you have to or because you want to? The difference here makes a big difference for the giver and receiver as my gift giving analogy proves.
How about your employees? Is the service they provide because they have to, because they’ll get in trouble if they don’t do it right, or is it great because they do it out of a genuine desire to help?
Authentic giving isn’t just a personal thing for the holidays; it can make your business stand out; especially in a holiday season where moving customers in and out like a cattle call is the norm. What can you do today to inspire your employees to genuinely care for customers? How can they make the holidays less of a hassle and more of a celebration of what’s good?
Furthermore, how can you do the same personally for friends and family? How can you give the gift of genuine meaning rather than obligatory objects?
The holidays can be stressful but they aren’t meant to be. They are meant to be a celebration of the best in all of us. Take some time to make that happen. Take some time to be authentic and give meaning rather than things.