The holidays are a great time of year, depending on who you are and what you do for a living. Most people on the front lines in a retail organization will tell you that this time of year is exhausting. They work longer than normal hours on days when it seems like the rest of the world is at home. The volume of human beings in stores is staggering and a majority of those people just aren’t nice, which tends to send a lot of retail employees to a terrible customer service place. The same things can happen to our people in the home service industry.

This time of year is stressful for us in a lot of different ways. Our customers on the phone are more upset than normal, because the problems in their homes could mean they will have less money to spend on the people they love. Some of our businesses slow down for those same reasons. When it comes down to a choice between our services and gifts, we lose more often than not. Our teams can sense the pressure of lower-than-normal earnings and the possibility of technicians being sent home early. They also bear the brunt of those crankier-than-normal customers. This is all a recipe for poor customer service.

You can do a lot to defend against this just by paying attention. First, if this is a slow time of year for you, it probably happens year after year. So instead of going through the same torture on an annual basis, plan for it. Budget for a slow month or try different marketing strategies, but whatever you do, stop getting upset at the same time every year about the same things. Your people can feel your anxiety. Change it.

Next, have fun. If we know that something is stressful for our employees, then we need to be the ones counteracting that pressure. Make the environment fun. Make sure your own attitude is right. Plan some things for everyone to look forward to, and go out of your way to appreciate your coworkers. Don’t let your customer-service professionals turn into the big-box retail employees at the 23rd hour of Black Friday. You are better than that.