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Keep in Tune with Your Customers over the Holidays

By: SmallBizClub

 

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For most people, the holidays are a busy time filled with family, parties, and travel. Business people are often faced with a dilemma: Enjoy some time off and lose business, or work through the holidays and cheat your family? Fortunately, a combination of planning and technology can offer a compromise that lets you stay in tune with your customers and keep your business humming while you take some time to smell the roses (and sample the eggnog).

 
The Planning Stage
 
The most important thing you can do to prepare for the holidays is wrap up any outstanding projects. Shoot for the end of November, so you can take it easy in December. One way to stay on track with projects is to use a project management program that tracks milestones and sends reminders, like Basecamp. You can even sneak a moment here and there to check for missed tasks without taking too much time away from the fun.
 
In the weeks leading up to the holiday, let customers know when you’ll be unavailable or the business will be closed. Send personalized emails to your client list and reach out on social media to send:
 
  • Season’s greetings
  • Company news—what’s on the horizon for the New Year?
  • Project updates
  • Special offers and discounts available over the holidays (especially if your business is retail or food service)
  • Thank you notes: “Thanks for your business” is always a welcome message
 
Don’t forget video. Video holiday greetings are powerful and feel personal. Make yours intimate by sharing a little of your life (a pet, a vet, or your kids) and by telling a personal story. (Bonus points if it’s funny and/or includes a cat.)
 
Gear Up for the New Year
 
Business usually slows down around the holidays unless you’re a retail store or a restaurant—in which case, keep calm and carry on. If you’re twiddling your thumbs between office parties and shopping, it’s a great time to analyze your data for customer service trends from last holiday season to improve your return customer rate this year.
 
It won’t take long if you upload your info to DataHero and generate a visual report. (No need to be a data expert—it’s really easy to use.) You’ll be able to spot trends instantly and send out targeted last-minute deals to boost sales, or plan your New Year’s campaign. Plus, DataHero integrates with Zendesk, so your customer service doesn’t have to suffer if your office is at half-staff.
 
Spread the Warm Fuzzies
 
Holiday spirit is infectious, so be upbeat, positive, and show your generosity. It’s a great time to show your company pride and commitment with a charity drive or participation in an awareness event. Building community relations is never a waste of time.
 
Work Around Your Schedule
 
Your customers aren’t the only ones on holiday. Even while you’re out of touch, your communication doesn’t have to stagnate…and you don’t have to hide in the bathroom to sneak in tweets. Social media management tool HootSuite lets you schedule social media posts in advance, so while you’re out, axe in hand, tramping the woods for the perfect tree, you’re also tweeting and updating your company Facebook status. (Ok, we all know you’re going to post a picture of the tree. And you should…it’s endearing and helps build a more personal relationship with your customers!)
 
If you’ve got a handle on technology, you really can have it all. You can stay in tune with your customers, run a full-speed marketing campaign, monitor ongoing projects, and still have plenty of time to sing carols and dance the night away.
 
Author: Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, FL, currently suffering the burbs of Orlando. She’s a science geek, a political junkie, and a hopeless web addict.
Published: December 4, 2014
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