As a small business owner the issue of holidays can be a sticky one. This isn’t because of the seaside rock or the kiss-me-quick hat.
You know you deserve a break because you’ve been working flat out all winter. Your friends/family are putting pressure on you to take a break, they want to book it NOW. One of the reasons you chose to work for yourself was to have a better quality of life.
But Do you even dare leave your business for a couple of weeks? Will your clients desert you if their queries go unanswered? Who will deal with urgent issues? Will you come back to such a mess that you regret the holiday?
According to elite magazine’s Aug 2015 edition, 20% of SME owners won’t take a summer break, that’s over a million people. A further 30% said they would take a break but only if they could stay in the UK to keep an eye on their business. But a survey from Xero shows an even worse story with 76% of small business owners saying that they won’t take a break. Even worse the Xero article goes on to show suitable apps so entrepreneurs can stay in touch on the beach. Easy today and many claim to live the ‘laptop lifestyle’ but that isn’t taking a holiday is it?
Actually taking a total break from your business will boost your productivity. Time away from work will encourage idea generation and give a much needed refocusing on what is important.
There is a direct correlation between number of hours worked and productivity as brainies at The Economist showed us when they told us to ‘Get a Life’ with this graph. The longer hours worked in a country, the less productive that country is.
John Pencavel of Stanford University, published a paper about working hours and showed that reducing working hours is necessary for productivity: output is proportional to hours. Above a threshold, output rises at a decreasing rate as hours increase. So in theory if you don’t take a decent break you could end up in a situation where you’re in negative productivity after a few years. You’re doing more harm than good. Also known as burn-out, which is a serious issue.
Here are our top tips for a bit of forward planning to prepare your business for a break:
– Practice going on holiday by taking a few days off – next week for example.
– Prepare staff with training in advance or get a virtual assistant to help out.
– If you’re not already, schedule your social media in advance by joining Hootsuite (free of charge for a month.)
– Get wages, expenses, invoices and credit control up to date in the month before you go away.
– Ask your network or colleagues in the same industry to job swap, they cover for you and vice versa.
– Don’t book a holiday at month end or year end or tax man deadline times.
– Employ a call handling company to tell your customers you’re in a meeting. (You can scan read their messages, so no surprises when you get back.)
According to a recent survey from Dutch telecommunication experts Telecompaper.com, over 2/3rds of people hang up when they reach an answerphone.
That’s a lot of customers that don’t like your machine.
The younger they are, the less likely to leave a message, with a staggering 84% of 20-29 year-old’s who said they can’t be bothered. They hang up straight away when they get voicemail, although they are more likely to ring back again.
The 50-64 age group are most likely to leave a message, even then only 37 percent of them would bother. Overall 69% of consumers hang up because they want to talk to a real person.
Voicemail is a dying service and universally disliked and derided by customers regardless of their age. Its considered a joke so try some of these messages:
Here at Call team, voicemail is our arch enemy: We are Batman and voicemail is The Joker.
We believe it is the lowest form of customer service and one of the quickest ways to lose a customer. If your phone goes to voicemail, will your customers just wait and ring back later or will they ring one of your competitors? What do you do when you get voicemail?
Your customers will go elsewhere if you don’t answer your phone.
Call team believe all small business owners should ditch the robot message, show your customers some LOVE and get a proper call answering service with trained real people who are helpful like us.
Add the results of the Telecompaper survey to other statistics about the overall customer experience and it becomes apparent how important a personal touch on the phone is: A Zendesk report showed that 82 % of customers stopped doing business with a company or brand after a bad customer experience and based on the survey results, reaching a voicemail box could easily be described as a bad customer experience.
Therefore, statistics show you lose customers when you let their calls go to voicemail.
However 85% of consumers would pay up to 25% more for good customer service. So if all calls to your business were answered by a human professional instead of a machine you could translate that into cash money in the bank. Add to that the bonus of growing a loyal customer base. They will love you back because they get a real person who answers their query on the phone. Plus, you will be providing a great point of difference from your competitors with the standard of customer service you offer.
Quality customer service doesn’t include voicemail, even in today’s electronic world, we all prefer to speak to a person.
…….as the late great Bob Hoskins told us in the nineties as part of the BT ‘friends and family’ campaign. If you don’t remember, have a look at the rosy olden days before the internet or mobile phones were invented. The land line phone was the only way to communicate and BT was the only provider.
The idea was to choose your top 5 favourite friends and family members and talk to them for the extra low weekend rate of 3 minutes for 10p which equates to £2 an hour. It was a good deal then but we wouldn’t dream of paying that kind of money today.
The campaign was a great success, according to campaignlive.co.uk the advertising industry website, it netted BT £5 million in incremental sales: http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/its-good-talk-story-behind-campaign/938629
Bob’s adverts are still fondly remembered 20 years later and he liberated men by giving them permission to have a natter not just pay the bill.
As a business owner, you already know its good to talk and the importance of the telephone as a way of communicating to your customers and not just your top 5, what about all those potential customers?
But what if you are not available to take your calls?
Who is booking your clients in for appointments with you when you’re with a client?
Who is dealing with your customer requests when you can’t?
If it’s not you, it could be your competitors!
Have you ever hung up when you got through to a business voicemail?
We all know how annoying it is to talk to a machine rather than a real person, in business too, people want to deal with people not answer machines. But your customers need never feel irritated by your voicemail again because you won’t have one. Call team make sure that your important callers always speak to a real person, your customers feel valued and your competitors lose out.
More than that, Call team speak to your customers in a tone of voice they expect, we are appropriate to your brand and your business. A relationship counsellor would like his callers to hear an emphatic and soothing voice when they ring, whereas a business coach requires and energetic and upbeat receptionist. Your clients will feel confident in booking your services assuming they are talking to a member of your staff.
We agree with Bob Hoskins – It is good to talk
And at Call team we passionately believe – It’s good to talk to your customers!