Recent research conducted by HubSpot reveals that modern consumers expect twenty-four-hour service from businesses, with 82% of respondents rating immediate response from a brand as highly important.
Global businesses might combat this by having a host of staff working alternate hours to cover response rates on social media, email and phone lines. But how can small businesses meet this expectation with their comparatively limited resources?
In other studies, Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) owners are labelled as those experiencing “all work and no play” with more than half of the UK’s SME leaders taking less than five days holiday per year. If this sounds like you, this post will show you how to give customers constant support without completely burning yourself out.
The key to not feeling 100% drained is to take a break now and then. But how can you achieve this while giving constant support to others?
Well, doing a large chunk of work up front to produce something that will take care of customer queries in the long-run can be worthwhile and give you some breathing time. A good example of this is building a mobile-first website.
Any good developer will tell you that mobile-first websites are a must these days. Besides the fact that they are increasingly preferred and ranked higher by Google, mobile-first sites help to quickly solve the queries of customers who need an immediate answer.
Brittany Stackhouse, Head of Website Development at Exposure Ninja explains in a recent podcast about mobile-first sites, that desktop users are usually fishing for further information at a leisurely pace, while mobile users are on-the-go solution seekers. In this particular episode, Brittany uses the example of a locksmith’s website and how creating an easily clickable phone icon can encourage quick conversion for someone in desperate need of a service.
Building a mobile-first website can allow users to find generic information faster, alleviating the need for customers to speak to a physical person — which eliminates any requirement for you to work twenty-four hours a day. So, make sure you build a clear menu system, some sensible FAQs and contact buttons in the right places on your website.
Fancy waiting by the phone all night? We didn’t think so. You might want to think about investing in a virtual receptionist service.
A virtual receptionist is automated and acts as a cheaper alternative to hiring a team of communication representatives. It works similarly to a mobile-first homepage, by signposting callers to relevant information.
While you might successfully divert some of the traffic to the FAQ section of your website, some customers will still feel the need to phone you — for instance, the desperate person in need of a locksmith at 3 am.
For this scenario, it might be an even better idea to hire a virtual personal assistant, instead.
A virtual assistant is different from a virtual receptionist in that it is an actual person (rather than an automated system) performing the tasks. As an SME owner, you might not have the funds to employ, train and develop an in-house assistant — but a virtual assistant doesn’t hurt your overheads in the same way. Plus, they can be located anywhere in the world, meaning that your communications can get covered even while you’re asleep.
Having a solid online blog, YouTube channel or podcast can instantly put customers at ease when they’re trying to find out more information about your business.
By profiling your customers into different buyer personas, you can start to create content that is likely to help various segments of your target audience. Rather than answering the same question multiple times, you can address the entire crowd in a favourable format.
Online Blog — Businesses using blogs get 67% more leads on average. This rich source of information often satisfies consumers continual craving for knowledge. Creating content for people to digest is an effective way to minimise your work hours. For example, it can take as little as two hours to write a detailed blog post that can be useful to thousands of customers.
YouTube Channel — According to Wix’s handy guide on YouTube channels for business, 300 hours of video are uploaded to the platform each day. In many ways, online video and streaming platforms like YouTube and Netflix have surpassed other forms of media like print and TV broadcasting. Most people enjoy bite-sized chunks of content as the world becomes more centred on instantaneous results.
Podcast — This audio format has become insanely popular over the last few years. The podcast trend has been slowly increasing over time — Google Trends has data to back this up. Podcasts are places to discuss industry insights, get acquainted with other experts and generally improve your profile as a business leader. As far as being better connected to your customers goes, this is a good route to take.
All three of our tips require you to do some legwork up front, but bear in mind this is better than constantly running around in circles trying to keep up with an influx of enquiries.
If you want to take more than five days off next year, we suggest creating some content for your audience to digest.
Whether that’s a killer phone menu, a brand spanking new website or a presence on an interactive platform — you’ll soon realise how beneficial talking to your customers all at once can be.
Not only is it a real time saver, but it also acts as a credibility booster for your business.
If you follow these steps closely, you might improve your sales figures dramatically and be able to afford a team of experts to help — just like big corporations can.
The moral of the story? Don’t struggle as a small business leader. Instead, find inventive ways to make a more significant impact in a shorter space of time.
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