It takes less than two seconds to send a tweet and just a few quick minutes to send an email. Our digital world has not only caused our output at work to increase and become easier, with so many mobile-device options, but it’s also caused many business owners to forget some basic rules of good business.
I currently reach more than 650,000 people through my social-media connections. As a consultant and thought leader, people turn to me every day for motivation, insights, strategies and more. In the middle of the hustle to create great content, making sure we’re being consistent, producing new products, running masterminds, hearing what our customers are saying, giving our best service and working to grow our client base by thousands of people per day, it is very easy to lose sight of the fact that we don’t need to be working 24/7 to be a success.
Boundaries and good company policies are not only a sign of good business management but they are also an act of faith. If I’m burnt out, stressed out and not making money, assessing my current marketing plan is critical. But so is reviewing where my time is going in a world that can suck away hours quickly through something as small as a smartphone. This is where faith comes in. If you think this will be easy, you’re kidding yourself. It will take discipline, hard work and a lot of belief in yourself and your company. Learning to love your customers while simultaneously ignoring your critics takes a lot of courage and conviction.
To serve customers in this generation requires that you are not only good at what you do and can manage people and your time well, but it also requires that you understand how to do so in a global digital space, where anyone and everyone can voice their opinion and get a hold of you 24/7.
Here are a few key pointers to setting up good business practices that ensure good, old fashioned customer service, while also setting the boundaries necessary in our mobile, fast-paced culture:
Just because anyone can get a hold of you 24/7 doesn’t mean you have to answer. On a tele-class I recently did with 2,800 students, I asked coaches from various industries what their biggest challenges were. I also asked this same question on social media a day later. Having boundaries was in the top-three listed concerns. How to keep people from invading their personal life was a pain point many brought up. This overlapped with how to stop working all day and night, seven days per week.
Even in an online world we need to have posted hours, policies and processes we follow. This is not so much to cover our backside as it is to make our workplace enjoyable for our clients and ourselves. No one can work 24/7 and live a happy life. Quit kidding yourself. Set up regular office hours and then abide by them. Just because someone can tweet you any time of the day doesn’t mean you have to answer them in real time. Email doesn’t have to be answered every time something comes in. By stopping the habit of attempting to answer everyone anytime they write, ask a question or present a need we not only will protect our sanity as a business owner, we’ll model for our clients what good business is. Be on top of your game when you are at work. Quit wasting hours talking to friends all day on Facebook. Work hard and play hard. This is good business.
Related: Why Faith Belongs In Your Workplace
Take responsibility. If people are calling you all day long, it’s your fault. Go back to square one and ask yourself why they have the access to do so. Remember that just because your phone number is posted on your website doesn’t mean you have to answer the phone 24/7. In addition, if you listed your cell phone number on your website or in your emails as the preferred mode of communication, then it’s your own fault if your phone is buzzing at all hours of the day.
People are predictable. They will call at odd hours. Stop getting so upset. Truth be told, we’re acting unprofessionally if we give everyone the phone number of the device we carry on our body all day long.
Use a business phone service that goes to an answering service and routes calls to you during normal business hours. Send them to voicemail during your off hours. There are many options when it comes to a virtual switchboard. Even if you’re the only person in the office or your company, use a tool like this to set yourself up for success. Get an assistant as well. A person who is available for anyone at any time isn’t giving good service or over-delivering. Rather, they are over-extending and probably not really as much of an expert as they say they are. Experts aren’t available all day long. They also take responsibility for their time. In business, time is money.
Quit giving away your services free. If I pay you for your expertise but a schmoozy email from a friend can cause you to just give away your services at the drop of the hat, not only is this unprofessional, it’s unethical. Far too many business owners give away their time and then wonder why people won’t pay them their service fees. You paid to get to where you are in your professional skill level, so stop getting sucked into two-hour ‘let’s just have a cup of coffee’ meetings with people who say they want to pick your brain. This isn’t good prospecting. It’s actually an act of desperation and is rooted in fear.