I’m not sure exactly what is supposed to happen at Christmas but it is important for customers that their goods and services are delivered by Christmas. Now that is fine when there has been plenty of notice, maybe a bit of upfront payment and no pressure. However…there is a Christmas madness that takes over both consumers and business customers alike. Customers that throughout the year have been reasonable, easy to work with and polite, seem to change into the Customer Christmas Monster – demanding, unreasonable and transfixed on having all loose ends tidied up by Christmas. This dilemma was discussed at my business network meeting and these are the strategies we suggest for small business.
- Have a cut off date and advise your customers of this at the earliest possible time. This can be done on invoices, website, Xmas cards etc.
- Offer a priority pricing arrangement. Higher pricing for a quicker result. This usually sorts out the real priorities from the automatic Christmas Monster response of “I’d like it before Xmas”.
- Have a customer booking system which starts a couple of months out from Christmas.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘I’m booked up’. This is particularly important if you are the service and you have no hours left in the day.
- Develop a contract with all clients about what is expected of them in order to achieve their deadline. Make it clear that a ‘by Xmas deadline’ cannot be guaranteed if they are late delivering their components.
- Offer incentives for customers to postpone projects e.g. discount rates in January.
- Start part of the project prior to Christmas so that customers don’t feel as though they are being put on ice. For example send out some information for customers to complete or information for them to read to assist with the project.
- Ask for upfront payment for the ‘rush’ jobs. There is nothing worse than busting a gut and not getting paid!
Above all remember that after the 24th of December all will be forgotten! If you need some help putting these marketing systems in place please make contact with us.
Feel free to share you customer christmas dilemmas and solutions.