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Provide the best service to 3 common types of holiday shoppers

The holidays are an important time for small businesses to attract new customers and close out the year on a strong note. In this Smart Holiday Tips Series, Chase looks at different ways take advantage of the holiday surge.

Choose what’s right for your business

The holiday season provides small businesses with a great opportunity to end the year on a high note. However, put yourself in the shoes of the customer and it's clear that being a holiday shopper is not always easy. Spending money is stressful, as is finding a way to squeeze in time to buy last-minute gifts.

There's an opportunity for you, however, to provide above-and-beyond customer service to anyone whom you encounter. You can offer customers more than holiday bargains by catering to their shopper needs, desires, and schedules.

The first step to better service during the holidays is anticipating who might come through the doors, or visit your website. There are several kinds of customers you're likely to encounter this time of year; knowing who they are, what they need, and the experience they want, could make all the difference for your holiday sales figures—and may even help you build a loyal clientele year round.

Every business attracts a different kind of customer, but there are overarching similarities across many industries and buyers. In the world of marketing, these are called "customer personas"—brief sketches of the kinds of shoppers you're most likely to encounter. Each typically has a different need, mentality, and budget, and enables you to understand your consumer base. "The key to delivering a great experience for [customers] is to have empathy for your customers," writes Peter Merholz in the Harvard Business Review. "The single tool that does the best job at spreading empathy throughout a business is the Persona."

Here are three common customer personas you might find around the holidays, and how you can provide them with the best shopping experience:

1. The Harried Holiday Shopper

This customer is short on time with a long to-do list. They want to get through their errands as efficiently as possible. The Harried Holiday Shopper tends to do their shopping after work, which means they want to grab the gifts they need with minimal fuss or searching through aisles (either literal or digital) to find just what they need.

You can cater to the Harried Holiday Shopper by extending your hours into the evening, which gives them more time to drop by your store after the work day ends. Place top-selling merchandise at the front of the store, and make sure that you've included inventory at different price points. If your products are available to purchase online, be sure that your shop's top-selling items are right on the homepage. Make the browsing experience as easy for web customers as it would be if you had a brick-and-mortar store.

And, if you ask the Harried Holiday Shopper if they'd like help, they'll probably say no—and that is okay! Trust that a no-fuss, solo shopping experience is what they want and allow them to happily grab their purchases, so they can check off the next task.

2. The Bargain Hunter

The Bargain Hunter loves the thrill of chasing a good deal. They're usually willing to put in a little extra time and effort to find just the right item at the right price. Unlike the Harried Holiday Shopper, they're not your grab-and-go crowd. This person might visit your store or website multiple times to see if a product they like is on sale, or visit only once if they hear you're having a big sale.

Enticing the Bargain Hunter to shop with you during the holidays comes down to dollars and cents. Offer great deals and discounts on popular items, or create promotional incentives to keep them in your store. These could include "spend more, save more" discounts, or even experiential demos that set you apart.

Make sure that you're advertising sale items well, so you stay on their radar as they tackle their gift lists. Online businesses can take advantage of coupon codes, newsletter promotions, and flash sales to attract bargain hunters, too.

3. The Merry Window Browser

The holidays don't fluster these patient shoppers. The Merry Window Browser will leisurely browse stores on weekends, sometimes multiple times, before making a purchase. Atmosphere is important to them, since they often stroll in casually on impulse. And, if they're doing their shopping online, they still love to see a holiday catalogue or festive newsletter that helps get them in the spirit.

To attract the Merry Window Shopper, be sure to create a cozy and inviting feel to your store. The more you can encourage them to stick around and peruse the racks, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Offer hot beverages, cookies, and snacks to entice them into your shop. Online retailers can create special holiday-themed social media posts to encourage visits to your page.

If you're able to cater to these three common types of customers, you might be able to give your holiday season a boost. When your sales experience caters to the customer's needs, you're priming yourself for holiday success.

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