During the holidays, business owners are pulled in all different directions. Both customers’ and employees’ needs change during this time, and leaders are often left to figure out how to balance them out. With the increased demand and added chaos from the holiday shopping season, this can be a tough task; however, there are steps business leaders can take to ensure they’re keeping everyone happy.
Below, nine Young Entrepreneur Council members share some tips for business owners looking to meet the needs of their teams and their customers throughout the season and into the new year.
1. Allow Employees To Lead With Their Needs
It’s important to allow employees to lead with their needs, request time off and set their own deliverable commitments going into the holidays. Capturing these details early will allow you to forecast unique holiday needs during an employee shortage and plan for deliverables internally and externally for clients. The more time you have, the more optionality you will maintain to find substitutes and run through solutions during this special time of year. By prompting employees to guide this process early, you will be providing them with something they can anchor to. There’s nothing worse than a company with ambiguity around holidays and PTO. Doing this will ensure that they can lock in plans and not be on eggshells going into the holidays. – Tyler Quiel, Giggster
2. Hire Seasonal Help
If you want to manage the needs of your customers and employees, you may want to consider hiring seasonal team members to take on specific responsibilities during this hectic time of the year. There are plenty of people who are willing to work with a company on a short-term basis, and some end up becoming full-time employees! If you have a couple of extra hands to help out around the office, your team can take time off, and your customers will get the same top-notch service they expect from your brand. – John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC
3. Set Clear Expectations And Tasks
Suppose your business is geared toward holiday spending—set clear expectations for your customers. Post those where they are visible. Remind shoppers that your store is closing, beginning 30 minutes before closing and at regular intervals. Let customers know what to do, like bring their items to layaway, the cash register, etc. Cross-train employees to jump behind a register or restock the shelves. This takes the load off during busy checkouts and prevents feverishly restocking shelves during limited downtime. Make it clear to your employees exactly what is expected. I like to use checklists that delineate what needs to be done during each shift. Give them the time they need to get those things done. Most importantly, acknowledge your employees for the work they’re doing. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
4. Maintain Open Communication With Customers
The holiday rush often means a higher workload and less time to complete it. Customers may be as stressed as your employees are while juggling many hats. As a result, their complaints spike. You will want to handle that problem proactively. For e-commerce, maintain an open communication hub where customers can voice concerns or complaints, and where employees can answer questions during standard work hours. With brick-and-mortar stores, implement clear signage about store policies and make them as visible as possible. When you emphasize clarity that can answer simple questions and rout stress, then customers will be more likely to make purchases. – Duran Inci, Optimum7
5. Set Goals With Your Staff
Managing both customers and employees during a busy season can feel exhausting. Taking extra time to set goals with your staff and listen to them and care for them goes a long way. Recently, I implemented an individual coaching session once per month with staff members. I give 30 to 60 minutes of my time to set quantifiable monthly goals for staff members based on what goal they want to achieve within the next 30 days. During the holidays, taking time to give staff a chance to set goals helps them feel heard, develop personally and align with overall goals for productivity. Customers are generally taken care of when staff feels empowered and not overworked. When I spend more time developing staff, they feel inspired to better deliver for our customers. – Libby Rothschild, Dietitian Boss
6. Provide Your Team With Great Tools
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to finding balance among employees and customers. However, you can come close to it by providing your team with great tools. For example, use a mobile-friendly helpdesk tool so that employees can respond to customers on the go. Invest in an AI copywriting tool to help your creative team brainstorm and create blog outlines easily. Good tools will make your employees more efficient and improve customer experience. And they’ll also make holiday work easier and less stressful. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
7. Prioritize Employees So They Can Prioritize Customers
Balancing the needs of my employees and customers shouldn’t be an issue because we have the same goals and mission. My employees are my top priority. As soon as I know they’re empowered, happy and satisfied, I’m guaranteed that it will also be easy for them to take care of our customers. My team should be filled with love first so they can easily love back. – Daisy Jing, Banish
8. Plan Ahead Of Time
The holidays can be extremely busy for our employees and customers. As new year planning and end-of-year sales and initiatives are priority, it’s important to keep all parties in check. The best thing to do is to plan ahead. We typically have our entire team address end-of-year sales or initiatives with clients very early on to ensure that nothing is last minute and to have sufficient coverage and items in place so our team doesn’t feel the pressure of a last-minute campaign launching a day before a holiday. This allows us to be proactive and take care of our customers and avoid frantic clients and burned out employees working over the holidays to make things happen. – Maria Thimothy, OneIMS
9. Check In With Employees Regularly
To keep up during the busy holiday season, it’s important to regularly check in with employees from different departments and monitor their progress. You can do this through consistent meetings that are short and to the point so you don’t waste time on anything unnecessary. The best way to meet the needs of your employees is by openly communicating and gaining their feedback. You can learn a lot about your team and service them properly by taking their feedback into consideration and making the changes they need to excel. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms