Maintaining service standards when busy
Maintaining service standards when you’re busy is just as important as it is at any other time.
Is a customer any less important to you when you’re busy than when you’re quiet? They certainly shouldn’t be; and from the customer’s perspective, they expect to get the same positive customer experience when busy as they would at any other time.
Here’s my second article related to maintaining service standards during the Christmas Season. Of course, consistency is important at any time of year and everyone in your business needs clarity on your expectations (see https://www.naturallyloyal.com/how-to-get-consistency/ ).
Whether you’re a leisure, hospitality or retail business in the thick of Christmas festivities, a sporting, health or wellness business anticipating a flurry of activity from New Year’s resolutions, or a tourism business with a Christmas spectacle, your customers – be they guests, members or visitors (or any other term you use to describe your customers) – don’t really care whether you’re busy, short staffed or having a meltdown; they still want to be catered and cared for just the same as any other time of year.
But if you want to maintain your customer service standards, most of the points are equally applicable to any business at any time of year when you expect to be busy or you experience peaks of activity.
7 ideas for maintaining service standards
- First impressions count. Remember, when you’re busy, many of these customers may be coming to your business for the very first time, so don’t let the volume of customers be an excuse to let customer service standards drop. Create a memorable first impression and a reason for them to return.
- Maintain your reputation. Avoid damaging your reputation with your loyal regulars by allowing your normal standards to drop just because you’re stretched. It may have taken years to build loyalty and trust, and this can be broken in an instant. Even more so if they are entertaining; nobody wants the embarrassment of bringing their friends to their favourite haunt, only to have their expectations dashed.
- Be up front. Most customers accept that things can go wrong from time to time. But, they are far more understanding if they’re forewarned. Keep the customer informed of the situation and give them options. Customers will appreciate your honesty which helps maintain trust and keep your customers loyal.
- Don’t over commit. Be realistic about what’s feasible, and what’s not a practical proposition when you’re busy, so you don’t make commitments you can’t deliver. Check your team are aware too, particularly if something regulars normally expect isn’t currently available. What can your team suggest or recommend as an alternative?
- Manage expectations. For example, if you know when you’re likely to be busy, make every effort to let your customers know this. If you let them know when the quieter times are, this not only helps them, it potentially evens out the peaks and troughs for you too, enabling you to maintain customer service standards.
- Avoid disappointments. When you know something is unavailable give customers as much notice as possible – through your website, when booking or enquiring, prior to travel or on arrival – to minimise disappointment. But, offer customers choice and alternatives. Being kept informed is not about making excuses! It’s about honesty so the customer can make an informed decision.
- Try something new. If something a customer might normally have isn’t available; will it be available later or not at all? What’s the alternative? What can you offer that might be as good as or even better? Take the opportunity to introduce your customers to something they haven’t tried before, or something that could be classed as an ‘upgrade’ (at no additional cost to them, of course). It’s a perfect opportunity to let your customer experience something over and above what they were expecting, so enhance their perception of customer service and value for money.
So whether your busy season is Christmas, the January sales, or sizzling summer days, the same customer service principles still apply…
Trust is the basis for building loyalty, and the quickest way to lose this is make promises you can’t deliver. Be open and honest with your customers and brief your team fully so they know what’s available and what’s not.
p.s. If you’d like some help auditing your venue to check it meets your customers’ expectations here are 3 different audit checklists to give you a head start.