Santa knows a lot about business! Even if, say, this particular guy looks slightly sinister.

This time of year, many of us are thinking about Santa Claus and looking forward to his visit down the chimney (and trying to remember not to light a fire on Christmas Eve!)It occurred to me this morning that Santa is a deliverer of quintessential customer service.

Is anyone truly unhappy with Santa’s work? Not really. People return year after year to Santa to put in their holiday wishes, and he rarely gets complaints. So I thought it appropriate to share with you some of the business lessons I’ve learned over the years by observing St. Nick.

Pay attention to detail.
Santa makes a list and checks it twice. He really pays attention to detail and makes sure no mistakes are made. Are you as careful? Be diligent with your customers and clients and give the same attention to detail as Santa, and you’ll have loads of happy customers, which translates to repeat business.

Hire good people.
The elves always do amazing, impeccable work. They have a strong work ethic, they know how to get things done, and they put a lot of care into creating the best toys possible. These are the qualities you should look for when you hire people to do work for your business, too, even if you’re outsourcing. Your employees and contractors and their work product represent your company. Make sure they represent you well.

Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it.
Santa promises to deliver all toys on Christmas Eve, so that when you wake up Christmas morning, your stocking is filled and your biggest wish is granted. You never wake up on Christmas, only to discover that Santa just didn’t make it. You never get an e-mail from Santa saying, “I’m sorry, we just couldn’t make our deadline this year.” Likewise, always deliver what you promise within your projected timeline and you’ll make your customers and clients very happy.

Love what you do (or at least look like you do).
Did you ever notice how Santa is always smiling? Whether he’s asking children what they want for Christmas, checking off his “naughty and nice” list, or delivering the toys, he’s always smiling. You get the sense that Santa really loves what he does, and that makes it so much nicer to receive gifts from Santa, because you know he’s getting joy out of doing good. One imagines that Santa wouldn’t frown, even if the elves revolted or the reindeer just weren’t behaving properly that day. Your customers and clients should always feel like you love what you do, no matter what’s going on in your day (or the day of your customer service reps). They should never feel like a burden, but always like a joy.

Market yourself well.
Santa does an amazing job of marketing himself, doesn’t he? You can’t pass a grocery store without hearing the clang clang of the Salvation Army Santa, and you can’t visit a mall without seeing a line of children waiting to talk to Santa. You see, Santa has wisely set up a network of outsourced Santas who deliver exceptional PR for him, plus he’s made strategic partnerships with charities so he appears just about everywhere. And don’t get me started on merchandising. You can market yourself just as well as Santa does by setting up your own marketing campaigns and strategic partnerships. Get yourself out there and increase your visibility.

Do good.
Speaking of strategic partnerships, Santa does good in the world. He delivers toys to children who live in poverty and brings a certain measure of comfort to millions around the world. He lends his image to thousands of charitable causes and makes a difference in the world around him. I hear that every one of Santa’s elves is required to volunteer a certain number of hours each month. You can do good in the world, too, through your business. Business in Blue Jeans donates a portion of our profits to a list of charities that are meaningful to me, but you can make a difference in a ton of different ways. Always be on the lookout for ways to do good in the world.

Santa’s not the only one who can do an amazing job, delight people around the world, and make a big difference. You can do the same thing with your business…you just have to have the spirit of the holidays. Enjoy!

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