Five Ways to Survive the Holiday Season

The holidays are officially here! With Christmas just three days away, last minute shoppers are scrambling to buy gifts. Malls are crowded, lines are long, and finding parking takes hours. With all the stress that unfortunately comes with the holidays, there are a a few tricks that can be done to help you survive the season.

1. Be Patient & Flexible
For most, shopping during the holidays is one of the most stressful times of the year. The pressure to find the perfect gift for someone builds up on customers and often leaves them frustrated. Realize this as a small business owner and/or employee. You need to give your customers extra patience during this busy season. Understand that they might talk back at you, be rude, or even argue. It is nothing against you, just the frustration and stress of the holidays speaking. Be nice and patient with every customer at all times. If a problem arises, take a step back and think it through. Be flexible and creative to find resolutions to solve the problem. Take the extra time to go out of your way to help customers at whatever length necessary.

2. Put Customers First
YOUR customers came to YOUR business for a reason. Give them the great experience that they want and deserve. Without these customers coming into your business, your doors would not be open. Make sure you put your customers' happiness first. Encourage impeccable customer service and put their wants and needs first. Imagine if YOU were the customer coming into your place of business. What do you want to see from employees? How do you want to be treated? Think of these things when interacting with customers. Most customers are looking to get in, purchase, and get out as quick as possible. Also, customers' anxiety is lifted when they see helpful, smiling employees while shopping. Be the type of employee YOU would want to see as a customer.

3. Be Fast & Efficient
The holidays sneak up on most people every single year, and just as fast as they come, they go. Making time in already busy schedules to go shopping for gifts is quite a challenge that adds pressure to the holiday season. To ease the tension and stress, be fast and efficient to help out your customers. Know the answer to certain questions and products before helping customers. For example, if you have a popular item, make sure you know how much it costs, if you have any more in stock, and if you can order online. Keep in mind it is just as important to be fast as it is to be friendly.

4. Listen & Help Your Customers
Customers who ask for help really do need it; otherwise, they would not be asking for it (duh). It is important to focus on the customer and their needs when they approach you for help. Truly listen. Stop what you are doing. If you need to, ask questions to clarify what exactly your customer needs. Do whatever you can do to help your customer. It is important to sell to your customers as well, but during the holiday season, most shoppers know exactly what they are looking for when they shop. Save yourself from the bitter rejection and obnoxious eye rolls, and help your customers instead of "hard selling" to them. For the holidays, most businesses' goals are centered on profit as well as customer service. Provide exceptional customer service and help your customers, and the profit will come naturally.

5. Have Fun!
Tis the season to be jolly! Get in the holiday spirit to survive the hustle and bustle of crowded malls, stress, and pressure. Many are focused on the negative part of the holidays, especially when shopping and stressed. Remind your customers that this time of year is supposed to be fun. Bring joy to the workplace. Play holiday tunes to get your customer in the mood. Wear Santa hats or jingle bells. Hang holiday lights. Hand out candy to customers, especially to children. Get festive!

The holidays don't have to be a stressful time of the year. Easing the stress boils down to two things: provide great customer service and have fun. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year!