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How to Keep Your Business Open 24/7 Without Having Anyone Working All Those Hours Customers expect access to you any time of day. These tips can help you pay attention at all times without burning the candle at both ends.

By Jill Schiefelbein

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The following excerpt is from Jill Schiefelbein's book Dynamic Communication. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

In today's digital world, there's no such thing as business hours because a business can never be truly "closed" anymore. That's not to say your physical office space doesn't shut down, but your customers and your potential customers expect access to you 24/7. Whether that comes in the form of locating information on your website, engagement and interaction on and with your social media channels or leaving a review on a third-party site, your business is always "open." You can never stop paying attention.

Related: How To Sell More by Identifying What Type of Listener Each Customer Is

With the technology available today, it's easier than ever to do this. The appearance of 24/7 availability communicates to your customers that they're your number-one priority. Here are some tenets of 24/7-style service:

The ability to communicate at all times

Offering your customers open communication channels with your company at all hours is important. This means having a current web presence with easily accessible contact information, and a support team.

If customers are using your product, they should be able to ask for and get help, no matter what time of day it is. Even if it's only an automated response that tells them your service and support hours, and provides links to possible interim solutions, that's better than leaving them in the dark, not knowing when they'll receive a response. For websites that have live chat features, the best ones let users know where they are in the support queue and how much wait time to anticipate. That's how you show your customer you're there, you realize they have a need and you're going to address it as soon as possible.

Related: 6 Strategies for Being a Better Listener

Multiple post-purchase touch points

After making a purchase, customers are more likely to engage with you -- five times more likely, in fact -- within 90 days from the purchase. This means you need to take control of your client onboarding process and provide multiple communication touch points and proactive offers of support. Especially for online purchases or high-value or high-dollar purchases, this type of comfort is essential to avoid purchase regret. You often see great examples of this style of service and comfort from ecommerce merchants: They quickly follow up with a thank-you email and direct links to support and contact information. At the bare minimum, you should touch base each quarter. Also, realize it's essential to personalize this communication. While you may send the same message to all new customers, at least put the client's name in the email. Studies show that personalized emails are more likely to drive action.

Paying attention to your customers' needs

As a business, you're there to serve and support your customers, but smart businesses are also observing consumer behavior, so you can see what your customers are doing with your product, how they're using it and what they're doing with the knowledge you helped them obtain. Paying attention to what your clients are doing on social media, in their businesses and in their successes -- especially as it pertains to using your product -- is vital to better understanding how to serve future customers and provide even more value to your existing consumer base.

Related: 5 Ways Listening Grows Your Business

This observation also involves understanding how current trends and events can impact your customer's relationship with you, your product/service and the results they can achieve by working with you. For example, if you sell a payroll solution and find out about a new bill that could impact how payroll is processed, tell your customers and control the narrative. State the facts, tell them you're monitoring the situation and provide the information needed to make your customers feel they're in the right hands.

When you can provide a value to your customer above and beyond your product, you've taken the next step in the client relationship and provided true 24/7 service.

Jill Schiefelbein

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Professional Speaker and Business Communication Expert

Jill Schiefelbein is a former professor, professional speaker, and business communication expert. From analyzing documents obtained from military raids of terrorist camps to dissect jihadi communication strategies, building an online education office serving more than 60,000 students, to her own award-winning entrepreneurial ventures, Schiefelbein loves a strategic challenge. Her business, The Dynamic Communicator, creates and executes communication strategies that help companies solve problems, retain talent and produce revenue. Pre-order her new book Dynamic Communication (Entrepreneur Press, March 2017) today.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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