Customer service lessons playing Santa

It has been a steep learning curve, playing Santa Clause to my young nephews this past Christmas. It all started some months ago with me offering to take over from my brother-in-law who has been doing it for the past few years.

I didn’t make much of my appointment by a panel of parents early October as it was still a few months to go and I was busy starting my own business. And then suddenly the call came through – my three year old nephew wants to talk to Santa over the phone…

The anxiety almost got to me. Here I was at the busiest time of the year on a sweltering Wednesday afternoon in early summer, taking a call from a three year old wanting to chat directly to Santa! The best part was being Santa on Christmas day: the buildup of excitement among the kids; my top-notch performance handing out gifts and then…. the ego-busting aftermath.

You see, I thought I was a hero for being this fantastic Santa and that the kids will talk about it for days to come. But in their view, I was nobody. It was Santa that came, did his thing and left. As expected. Nothing unusual. It was over till next year.

The bottom-line? I learned a few “customer service” lessons and here they are:
  1. Get someone with authority to recommend you. When my nephew’s mom told him she’s got Santa on the phone, boy, I was Santa. No questions asked!
  2. Expect a call from your customer. If a 3 year old wants to reach out to Santa two months in advance, expect your customer to want to do the same. Make sure you are reachable via email, phone and website.
  3. Look absolutely, completely and totally the part. If you are a firm of accountants, you better look like a firm of accountants. If you are a plumber, you should look like the best plumber in the business. No half measures here. I spend R500 on a Santa outfit for Christmas day and it bought me massive credibility.
  4. Don’t expect more credit than you deserve. I put up a fantastic Santa performance, but all I’ve actually done is met the expectation. I was on par. Don’t expect your customers to say thanks for simply meeting their expectations.
  5. Become an essential part to the success of your customer. What would Christmas be without Santa Clause? He is an absolutely integral part – something a small business should aim to be to the success of their customers.
I am looking forward to this new year. For me is is a year of building up Firejuice as a business that helps small companies build strong brands. A major part of this process will be to grow a client base for Firejuice. Maybe this is where my Santa experience will come in handy!