top of page

How To Not Let Customer Experiences Suck During Busy Seasons

Listen to the audio version. 👆

 

There are times of the year or expected events when you know there will be an extra high volume of work and customer service requests.


These times are extra chaotic, especially when you’re a one-person show.


If you’re going to make it through with minor bumps and bruises, you want to be prepared.



Scar from the Lion King saying "Be Prepared"
If you didn't sing this, I'm not sure we can be friends.


WHY IT MATTERS:

You're going to be slammed - the last thing you want to do is to be winging it and creating a shit experience for your customers and for yourself.


WHAT'S NEXT:

Let's dive into -

  • Researching your busy seasons

  • Creating your game plan for each busy season

  • How to prepare for your busy season

  • How to evaluate your busy season game plan

  • What to do with your game plan after you've created it



Knowledge is power

To survive these high-volume periods, you’ll need to plan ahead. The only way to do that is to know what is coming and when. Time for a little homework.


📝 Spend 30 minutes doing research on what busy seasons you encounter based on:

  • Your own experience

  • Your industry

  • What may be going on in your ideal client’s life

  • What is going on in your life that makes work feel busier

Once you can identify when those busy seasons are, you can start figuring out how to prepare yourself for the onslaught.



Your game plan outline

Busy seasons feel a bit like you're playing an intense game of whack-a-mole, but with emails, phone calls, and tasks popping up faster than you can catch your breath.


While it will probably always feel like a game of whack-a-mole, you can start to predict where the little buggers are going to pop up next so you have your mallet ready.


Each season will be a bit different, so you'll want to create a distinct game plan for each.


Below is your guide to help you figure out what to consider with each busy season.


Every industry is different, so if you find that something isn’t applicable or that something is missing, feel free to adjust.


Here is your game plan outline -


(Give the busy season a name)


Time period of the season:


Offerings and Customer Segment

  1. What are your major sellers during this busy season?

  2. Is your service mainly for the buyer or someone else?

  3. Does this season apply to all of your customers or a specific subset? If a subset, which subset?


Operational Adjustments

  1. Are you extending your working hours during these periods?

  2. Any other changes in your working hours or operations?

  3. Are any of your existing policies different during this time period?

  4. Do you need to create new policies for this time period?


Customer Communication and Support

  1. What are the frequent customer questions for your hot services during this time?

  2. Would any self-service materials be helpful for your customers?

  3. What, if any, heads-up do you need to give existing customers/clients?

    1. Will their existing services be impacted in any way? If so, how?

    2. What normally expected services will be impacted?

  4. Changes in communication: If anything is different from what is normally expected during this time, how will you communicate this with your customers?


Technology and Contingency

  1. Tech Reliance: What technology do you depend on, and what's your backup plan if it fails?


Customer Experience

  1. Potential Customer Issues: What issues might your customers face, and how can you prevent or address them?

  2. Recipient Connection: If the service is for someone other than the buyer, how do you plan to connect with the recipient?

    1. If the service is for someone else, how can you extend customer service to them?

    2. If the service is for someone else, are there any suggestions you can make to the buyer to make the gift even better?

Logistics and Responsiveness

  1. Physical Product Needs: If your service requires physical products, how are you preparing and managing inventory?

  2. Response Time: Will there be changes in your response time to customers?

  3. Wait Times: Any expected changes in wait times, and how and when will you communicate this?

  4. Upstream considerations: Who, if anyone, could potentially impact you?

    1. Think about others that you rely on in both a professional and personal sense that could impact you.


Personal Well-being and Review

  1. Personal Care: What are your plans to stay mentally and physically healthy during busy times?

  2. Recognize impacts: What impacts on your personal life will this have?

    1. Do you need to arrange childcare, pet care, food, or additional help around the home?

    2. Who will be impacted, and is there anything you need to do to prepare them?

    3. What events are happening during this time that you may need to prepare for alongside your busy season?


Phew! That was a lot. Now, you can create your game plan.



A pineapple chasing baby ducks that are running away. It says "Get your free busy seasons templates" and "click here"


Create Your Game Plan

Now that you have a solid understanding of what will be different during your busy season, you can see what tasks you need to attend to before the busy season actually happens.


Review the information you gathered for each busy season and create a list of tasks based on what you discovered from your busy season outline


Then, I want you to identify one-off tasks and recurring tasks.


For example, a one-off task might be creating a flexible template for common questions that happen during this busy season. A recurring task may be doing inventory to see if you need extra stock to perform the services you provide.


Your one-off tasks can go into whatever your preferred task organization method is.


Your recurring tasks will go into your busy season guide, which you can refer to each season. You can create a digital document, or you can go old school and use a notebook. Whatever you choose, make it easy for you to navigate.


With those tasks, I want you to do 5 things:


  1. Tag each task as pre-season, during-season, or post-season.

  2. Add what resources you need, if any, for each task

  3. Add who needs to be informed for each task, if there is anyone

  4. If there are deadlines for when a task needs to be done, give it one

  5. Prioritize the tasks, so you know where to focus first



Get prepared to be prepared

You know how you need a vacation after your vacation?


That time to unwind after the excitement and ease back into real life.


Pre-season is like this but in reverse. You want to start gearing up and getting your game face on before the excitement starts.


In your busy season guide, you'll want a pre-season prep section. The tasks that you identified as pre-season will go here.


As a general rule of thumb, I'd like to suggest a few additions to your pre-season prep:


  1. Consider how much time you need to get ready for the busy season.

    1. Schedule time and set a reminder in your calendar

  2. Review, adjust, and schedule tasks as necessary

  3. Review and update any communications that would go out to customers/clients

  4. Do a full walkthrough of your systems to ensure they're functioning as expected

    1. Consider doing two walkthroughs: One at the beginning of busy season prep and another closer to the start of the busy season. The Universe likes to have a laugh and throw a monkey wrench into our plans the closer busy season gets, so double-check.


If you haven't tried prepping for a busy season before, assume that your guestimate on how much time you need is off and add 40% more time to it.


Just know that things will always go sideways, and having that buffer time will give you time to make adjustments. Then, you can adjust the amount of time needed as you nail down your process.



Post-Season Evaluation

You'll want to do a post-season evaluation once the busy season has slowed and you've managed to feel a little less like a chicken running around with its head cut off.


This is an opportunity for you to review how the busy season went so you can make it even better for the next busy season.


In your busy season game plan, create a Post-Season Evaluation section.


This is a place for you to add prompts to help you identify areas for improvement and highlight the things that worked really well, which you can focus more attention on.


While this isn't an exhaustive list, consider adding some of the following prompts to your post-season evaluation.


I suggest keeping each reflection to let you review any long-term patterns that you may see over time. Or, if you try something different, you can refer back to what you did to see the impact.


Customer Patterns:

  • Review customer feedback, including surveys, reviews, direct communication, and any social posts you're tagged in to understand their experiences during the busy season.

  • Identify common themes (positive or negative) raised by customers

  • What, if any, interesting customer behavior patterns did you notice?


Operational Analysis:

  • Were there any bottlenecks or inefficiencies that you or your customers ran into?

  • Was any of the pre-season prep particularly helpful or unnecessary?


Inventory:

  • If you use products as part of your services, identify any stock shortages or issues you encountered.


Tech assessment:

  • What, if any, technological issues did you run into?

  • If you did run into tech issues - what changes need to be made, if any?


Personal Reflection:

  • While there's always some degree of stress, did any of it feel unmanageable?

  • Do you see room to add more or different support next time?


Lessons Learned and Action Plan:

  • Based on what you learned, make a list of possible adjustments for the next busy season for you to refer to.


What do I do with it?

You develop it further.


Your game plan for each busy season is a living, breathing document.


There is nothing there that's written in stone. The guide you create is meant to help you through a tough period with minimal bumps and bruises.


There are a lot of things you don't know yet. You'll take an educated guess, go through the busy season, make adjustments, and try again. You'll get to a point where your busy season runs like clockwork.


While not the sexiest part of running a business, this sort of prep work creates more time for you in the future. So, instead of spending time scrambling, dealing with frustrated customers, and feeling entirely inadequate, you can focus on doing what you do best - serving your customers.


THE BIG TAKEAWAY:

Busy seasons will always be busy, but they shouldn't feel chaotic and out of control. If the worst happens, you want to be able to adjust as needed to minimize the impact. By making time to create a busy season game plan, you can make busy seasons easier and more fun and create deeper customer relationships.



Comments


bottom of page