Not too long ago, the concept of a business that would run literally 24/7, rather than just in the traditional 9-5 weekday slots, might have seemed fanciful or futuristic. However, these days, it’s not just a practical option but also, you could find, essential for your business to follow in order to keep pace with competitors.
According to research highlighted by The Telegraph, three-quarters of people in the UK expect same-day responses to their customer-service queries, while half anticipate a reply within an hour. What can your business do to meet such customers’ expectations of dealing with a continually-connected workforce?
Can your customers really get a reply from you at any time?
You just can’t be certain when one of your customers might run into a problem with a product or service you have given them. Therefore, you also can’t be sure when that person will want to reach out to you for help. However, this doesn’t strictly mean you need to be ready to wake up to answer queries in the early hours.
In an article published on the Entrepreneur site, professional speaker and business communication expert Jill Schiefelbein insists that a customer’s query should at least be met with an automated response specifying the company’s service and support hours and suggesting possible interim solutions.
Do you have staff open to working outside traditional hours?
You could be pleasantly surprised by how many of your staffers are indeed willing to consider doing this if you investigate the issue. You could find that some of your employees would be happy to start working, say, from 4pm to 12am, from 6am to 2pm or at weekends.
By shaking up certain employees’ working hours in this way, you could quickly and easily extend your company’s open hours without adding to its existing expenditure.
How could you prepare shift workers for rejigged responsibilities?
However enthusiastic some of your employees might currently be to switch to new, less orthodox work schedules, doing so could place an unexpected strain on their personal lives. It could also leave these workers physically and financially drained – though it could largely just be a case of learning how to adjust.
Therefore, with these workers, you should be honest about the potential drawbacks of shift work before they take the plunge. As continually sticking to night working can take its psychological toll, you should let employees doing so take up a dayshift from time to time, as the Guardian advises.
You could also route inbound calls to alternative devices as necessary
Even those members of your workforce who move to working unconventional hours might not quite able to take up all of the slack if you are determined to make your business a truly 24/7 one. For example, you could find that some workers can work particular hours but not at the usual office.
In situations like this, you could, as and when required, use inbound call routing to quickly divert customers’ calls to other locations – such as satellite offices – or a mobile.