Santa's Secret Sauce
"This is the ultimate in feel-good projects. To make money and make people happy, it's a Santa Claus project"
~ Craig Belser
Santa Claus may just preside over the most successful customer service organization in the world. This is amazing, given the fact that he has many logistical and operational disadvantages.
The ordering system is antiquated. It does not rely on either speed or ease of order entry. It is driven by and handles good old-fashioned snail mail. Nothing automated or bar-coded to enter once the request has arrived. Each letter must be read individually. Production processing is not equipped with modern machine advantages, based on what I'm told. It still depends on a skilled manual-labor workforce to build all the toys. And delivery does not benefit from a fleet of planes, trains, or automobiles. Or any sophisticated GPS tracking capability. Santa is still able to do it all in just one sled, on one night, pulled by reindeer.
And yet, despite having very few, if any, competitive advantages, from initial request to order fulfillment, Santa brings joy to millions of perfectly satisfied customers every year.
Here's three things that I've noticed he does that all of us could do well to emulate.
1. Santa Built an Enthusiastic Team. I've been told that the elves are the most happy and satisfied workers in the world. They are treated well. The have a concrete and well-defined mission. They work with a purpose and sense of urgency. They work hard at their craft to become world-class at what they do. The elves share happily in the satisfaction and delight of their customers. Customer experience is almost always enhanced when an organization makes these levels of commitment. Happy (talented, appreciated, and committed) workers make happy customers.
2. Santa Has Perfect Order Accuracy. Have you ever heard of someone getting the wrong item in the package that they had ordered from Santa? I haven't. All that needs to happen is for the customer to send one letter to the post office at the North Pole and your request is immediately entered into the system, no follow-up required. Customers don't need to exert any extra effort to get what they ordered initially. On the rare occasions that someone has changed their mind, he's arranged with JC Penney, Walmart, and other fine retailers to take back returns and make exchanges. That's more convenient than bringing things back to his workshop.
3. Santa Has Perfect On-time Delivery. I've never heard of anyone getting anything late from Santa. His sled does not pull up with the Amazon, UPS or USPS trucks on December 26th, or, later. No back order or out-of-stock notifications. Nothing that needs to take excessive time, effort, or consternation to track and follow where and when packages might arrive. He always makes sure to hit the promised delivery date of December 25th. That ensures that he or his staff will never have to deal with listening to customer complaints about missing critical deliveries.
If we can build a happy workforce, dedicated to customer satisfaction, and deliver the right item to the right customer at the right time, we can be thought of as having a world-class operation—just like Santa Claus.
(*A repeat - but one that still applies!)