Delivering Overtime Customer Service

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Tis the season to be…shopping?  Businesses are looking for ways to bring more customers into the stores to spend, spend, spend.  That’s a great idea for the business and a benefit for the shoppers who want to take advantage of sales.  But what about the employees who have to leave the Thanksgiving table early to put on a company uniform and brave the crowd frenzy of Black Friday?

It’s not hard to give great customer service when you love people and your job.  But you also love your family, or friends, or just settling in on a holiday to relax.  In years past, customer service front-line staff got to enjoy Thanksgiving Day before gearing up for the crush of shoppers on “Black Friday.”  But the poor economy and shoppers on a budget are forcing businesses to open earlier and earlier.

Wal-Mart, as reported in Business Insider, is leading the pack in opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  Customer service clerks barely have time to finish their second helping of turkey and pumpkin pie before rushing out to take care of customers.  Both Target and ToysRUs are opening on Thanksgiving, and staying open longer hours.   

The longer hours are definitely a plus for customers looking for bargains.  Most retailers are offering discounts on the electronics to get people lined up and into the stores.  But what does that mean for the employees who have to come in, and how will it impact customer service?  Employees may resent the fact that they have to come in to work on a holiday.  Big-box stores, like Wal-Mart and Target need a lot of employees on the floor to take care of the crush.  Some may not have a choice…either work the holiday or find another job.

If you’re looking for a seasonal job, you have to weigh not only the job, hours and pay but also your attitude and resentment-level if you have to work the holidays or the long hours between Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas.  Will your resentment take a toll on your ability to deliver great customer service?  Here are some tips to keep your spirits up.

1.    Get enough sleep.  If you have to come in at 6 p.m. and work all night, be sure to take a nap the day before. 

2.    Take it easy on the turkey.  WebMD reported that turkey contains tryptophan, which produces niacin, which aids in the production of serotonin and melatonin, which is a natural relaxer.  Too much of a good thing can make you sleepy and lethargic—not the kind of energy you need to work through the night. 

3.    Play the role.  Disney looks for cast members who can convincingly play the part of a princess or prince, hero or villain.  You may not feel friendly or accommodating, but you can play the role for the eight or 12 hours you’ll be working.  Stay in the moment, and try not to think about the family time or chill-out time you’re missing. 

Companies can make 40 percent of their annual revenue during the winter holidays, so it makes sense for them to be available to customers for as many hours as possible.  Create your own strategy for not only getting through but enjoying the holiday season serving others.

Photo Source:  Freedigitalphotos.net

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  • Jon Borillo
    Jon Borillo
    Those people who agree to do customer service even when it's a holiday or when it's past their 40 hours, I consider to be heroes. It's just right that companies who hire them and make them work on those days should give these heroes more than just the usual compensation. They deserve it.
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