How to Prepare Your Employees for the Black Friday Customer Experience

Woman making card payment at the counter in a clothing store

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and it marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Named Black Friday because it is a day retailers make profits and go into the black, Black Friday holds a different meaning for many retail employees. For employees, it’s a black Friday all right: It’s a stressful, busy day of dealing with hoards of customers who can be demanding and unreasonable.

Ridiculously low prices, brilliant marketing, and holiday buzz get consumers in the door. Once in the stores, however, customers must fight their way through crowds, risk getting trampled, and race to the items on their shopping lists. Many customers are disappointed to find that they are too late to grab their desired items because the swifter customers already beat them to the iPad2 or the 72” flat screen TV.

Meanwhile, frontline employees work to keep the shelves neat, field complaints about roughhousing and out-of-stock items, struggle to get price checks, answer questions, and ring customers up. It’s a guaranteed stressful day. While there’s no balm to remove the stress of Black Friday, I do have 4 tips to help make Black Friday a little less stressful for the frontline employees that help make Black Friday a profitable shopping day.

  1. Properly Train Employees to Manage the Event – Black Friday is a significant event, not unlike an NFL game or a hip-hop concert. There will be crowds, excitement, chaos, and risks. Employees must be trained on what to do in overcrowding situations, crowd pushing, violence and fire. A detailed staffing plan is a must so that all employees have specific locations fully staffed during the Black Friday event. Additionally, a clear safety plan must be created and rehearsed before the event so that the store is completely prepared for any emergency situations.

  1. Complaint Handling – Consumers will complain on Black Friday. Expect this and prepare for it. Employees can defuse angry customers by maintaining eye contact with the complaining customers, apologizing regardless of fault, responding with empathy and demonstrating a sense of urgency.
  1. Communication Strategy – Large crowds and extra noise will virtually mute retail PA systems. Keep your employees communicating by giving all employees radios during the Black Friday event. Communication will be imperative during out-of-stock and emergency situations.
  1. Good ol Customer Service – Remember, customers will be just as stressed and aggravated as employees. And also remember that the customers, albeit aggressive and demanding on this day, are still customers. Employees need to be mindful of the power of making eye contact with customers and smiling. Even in the midst of crowds and chaos, the power of connection will go a long way. It is essential to be available to offer assistance to customers and to be responsive to customer needs during this excruciatingly busy time.

Black Friday is a hugely profitable day for most retailers. But it’s a tiring and aggravating day for employees. Minimize the stress on employees by proactively preparing them for the event using these 4 steps. When you do, both your customers and your employees will have a better Black Friday experience. Good luck!

Now you can give your employees even more great skills for delivering the best customer experience and for handling difficult customer situations. Sign up for my email list and learn specific tips, approaches, and phrases to help your employees help your customers.