Plan Now to Enhance Service for the Holidays

No, not St. Patrick’s Day, or even spring break—now is the time for merchants to start gearing up for the end-of-year holiday season, as Debra Ellis of Wilson & Ellis Consulting reminds us. The customer satisfaction index shows no signs of turning up, so every retailer has the responsibility of giving its consumers something to be happy about and reasons to come back this year.

Here are four steps you can take now to make the rest of the year better for your business:

1. Conduct a post mortem of the 2004 holiday season. Analyze sales and service too so you can keep marketing and service levels in synch and on track.

2. Develop your own, internal customer satisfaction index. Use surveys, forums and focus groups, or interviews. Then once you’ve collected the information, compare it with the analyses you completed in step one to get a balanced picture of how your customers really feel.

3. Now, identify the common challenges from the first two steps, then make an improvement checklist by ranking those challenges in order of the investment needed and the potential return. The quick fixes should be just that; the serious challenges will need more time.

4. “Work the plan.” Monitor results as you implement the service enhancement plan you have developed in the previous three steps; adjust as necessary, and continue the process through to the logical end—more satisfied customers and a more prosperous holiday season this year.

For more information, contact Debra Ellis at or visit

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