By Karen Hamilton
If Santa Claus, an overweight, 1700 year-old man (give or take a couple hundred years), can travel at 3,000 times the speed of sound and visit 822 homes a second in order to deliver all the world’s presents, is it really asking too much for you to get a homeowner’s new kitchen installed on time and within budget?
Come hell or high water, every year Santa meets his deadline. The result is a happy customer who keeps coming back. While some (like the scientists at NORAD) say his perfect track record is because Santa travels within his own time-space continuum, others are convinced it has more to do with his razor-sharp business acumen. Santa knows that many factors, both controllable and uncontrollable, have the potential to delay a project like Christmas. Because he’s experienced, he expects delays and works them into the production schedule. And instead of relying on magic alone, he does things like running his business in the cloud and making sure he has a committed group of subtrades (a.k.a, elves).
A wink and a smile (a.k.a. great customer service)
According to the blog, Zendesk, Santa Claus is often a child’s first customer service memory. Here are their tips for customer service from Santa.
- First impressions count – The first couple of minutes go a long way in determining how kids feel towards Santa (and how homeowners feel about you).
- Dress appropriately.
- Be a good listener – Not only does Santa ask children about the things that are important to them, like their school or hobbies, he uses simple phrases like, “Tell me more” and “Really?” to draw them out and gather more information.
- Don’t promise more than you are able to deliver.
- Employ a good support team.
- Make waiting as painless as possible.
- Give them something “extra.”
- Don’t hide anything – Professional Santas always keep their hands in sight.
- Leave them with a good feeling.
Cut down the wish list (a.k.a. manage expectations)
Each October, over 100 would-be Santa Clauses gather at the Charles W. Santa Claus School, the longest-running Santa Claus school in the world. Located in Midland, Michigan and operated by Thomas Valent, the owner of a local construction company, the school offers instruction in proper dress and make-up, live reindeer habits and the all-important art of how to quickly size up a family’s financial circumstances and manage expectations. By being clear and honest about what someone should and shouldn’t expect, Santa doesn’t disappoint anyone. As one graduate put it, “I just make sure to let them know that Santa seldom brings everything on a list.”
The school’s Santas report that children, like homeowners, sometimes show up with complex printouts, cross-referenced spread sheets and clippings from catalogs. The trick, they say, is to try to guide the children toward not so unrealistic things. That usually does the trick but if a child still insists on getting his way, Santa may be required to come up with a creative answer.
Karen Hamilton is part of the team at Hammerati. Hammerati is a professional network exclusively for the construction industry.