In our previous post, we discussed strategies and ways that entrepreneurs and small business managers can develop an effective and inexpensive last-minute holiday marketing and advertising plan, or to make changes to an existing plan that has proven to be underwhelming. Regular readers of this blog already know that we believe your brand, including your brand elements, marketing, and advertising, is a multi-faceted, vibrant embodiment of your business or organization.

Stick To Your Goals

Your brand is not just a logo or color scheme that appears on your website, it’s an identity that you and your employees must understand, embody, and incorporate into every aspect of how you do business. With last-minute marketing and advertising initiatives, it’s also important to ensure that you and your employees fully understand your goals, your limitations and, most importantly, how to address customer concerns and complains in a way that conforms with your brand message.

Keep Your Employees In The Loop

If the holidays are a crucial period for your business, then your employees likely already understand that the period will be busy, chaotic, and stressful. However, no matter how busy you and your employees are during this period, you must keep them informed of your overall policies for the holidays and how to incorporate your brand message when conveying those policies to customers. For instance, if you have a brick and mortar retail business and/or an ecommerce site, it is absolutely crucial that your employees are aware of which items are being advertised or featured, your policies on price matching or substitutions, and most importantly, your deadlines for both receiving new merchandise and having merchandise delivered on time for the holidays.

Keep Your Target Market In Mind

How you present crucial information to your customers should depend heavily on your target market and should be consistent with your brand voice. For instance, simply posting your shipping deadlines on your website and informing your customer-facing employees of your policies is often not enough – you have to carefully consider your target market and your brand message. If your target market is older and less Internet savvy, it may be important to add a message at checkout reminding your customers of the shipping deadline. If your brand message is one of personalized service and expert care, addressing shipping deadlines with customers should also include an in-depth discussion of expedited shipping options. If your business promotes the lowest prices, then you may find that promoting overnight shipping is unpalatable to many of your customers. Tailoring your interactions with customers to specifically appeal to your target market and remain consistent with your established brand voice will not only help make these interactions smoother and less stressful, but they can also help eliminate some of the extra work created when customer service issues are mismanaged and miscommunicated.

Quickly Address Errors and Complaints

With the constant hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s inevitable that mistakes and errors will be made. However, if a mistake or error made by you or one of your employees results in a less than happy holiday, your customers will take it very, very personally. If a package is late arriving any other time of the year, it could be an inconvenience, but a late package around the holidays could mean one less present under the tree, and the affected customer will most likely immediately turn to email or social media to lodge a complaint.

Always Stick To Your Brand Voice

When addressing customer complaints around the holidays, especially complaints made publicly over the Internet, don’t ignore them or address them in a curt fashion. In fact, if your brand message is one of personalized customer service, a full explanation and apology should be posted immediately. Do your best to apply your brand voice in these replies and apologies, and have a plan in place beforehand to offer compensation to the customer that is fair, manageable, and affordable for your business.