CUSTOMER CARE : Offer flexible hours to employees during this festive season

It is 4am this Friday morning of December 24, 2010. The weather is still fresh and I should be fast asleep under my covers. But as many writers go through, I am awake looking for what to write on for our Monday column.  The deadline for sending articles is Saturday morning whether it rains or shine, whether in Kigali or not; whether on vacation or not; whether on Christmas Eve or not.

It is 4am this Friday morning of December 24, 2010. The weather is still fresh and I should be fast asleep under my covers. But as many writers go through, I am awake looking for what to write on for our Monday column.  

The deadline for sending articles is Saturday morning whether it rains or shine, whether in Kigali or not; whether on vacation or not; whether on Christmas Eve or not.

Surprisingly, even with this weekly constraint, I still appreciate the bond created with readers over these last two years or writing this column.

Yesterday was a busy day doing last minute shopping. The whole town is simply filled with the festive season atmosphere. In this side of town in my country, Christmas is a real opportunity for many to increase on their turnover. Retail women sell almost everything by the roadside.

The city is full of people going here and there…there is so much traffic…loud music is being played by every shop owner. One has to be blind and deaf not to feel the energy in town created by this festive season.

While shopping, we met many service people in different moods. Many were dynamic and cheerful using every opportunity to sell more. Unfortunately some were also sad, rude and annoyed in their shops.  At a certain shop; I had the impression by the cashiers’ facial expression that she was blaming customers for being so many to shop at her shop.

Christmas Eve in my place is a big family celebration. We often host big get-together dinners but tonight we will miss three important people at the celebration.

Gisèle is a sister-in-law who has to work very late because she is a cashier and today is also a very busy in her bank. For almost four years now; she hasn’t been able to be with us on this occasion. Her children are used to that.
Paul is a cousin and a Pilot who has to fly again today. He will be back in town in three days.

Latifa is a nurse and has to be on duty tonight. For the last two years, she has never spent Christmas Eve with us.
Even though Christmas is great festive season for many, it is unfortunately a very challenging one for many service people. Many can’t celebrate fully the season because of their professional obligations.

Last week; we had an article on the importance of appreciating service people during this festive season. But today, beyond these service people, I would like you to join me in thanking the family members of service people who go through this festive season without their loved ones (children, spouses, friends etc).

Balancing work and home requires continuous adjustments from service people. If you are a manager, do try to offer flexible working hours during this festive season. If your employees have to work during Christmas for instance, do try to give them holidays at the New Year celebration.

Flexible working hours can be a great way to keep your employees engaged with the company, especially during the Christmas period. Flexible working hours will allow your staff to spend time with family or attend other important social events during this season.

If you do not offer flexible hours; your employees will offer stinky services or be pretty rude to customers. They wouldn’t smile, give eye contact or be professional in dealing with customers. They might rather make your customers feel like a bother. And this is not what you want for your customers or for your business.

Wishing you all a Happy Festive Season

The author is a customer service consultant and the Publisher of The ServiceMag.

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