If you have been in business for a short time, you may now be starting to pick up more and more orders. You may also be finding that you are struggling for time in the day to cover all the roles required to keep your business going. There is so much to do in terms of answering the phone, checking for new web enquiries and orders, and packaging products up for delivery. On top of all that, you may be busy manufacturing too.
If you are lucky enough to be busy at the moment, you may be wondering how long you can keep it up. The extra hours and working all weekend will soon be taking their toll on your health if it hasn’t done so already. You may even begin to resent it when the phone rings, or another order pings through on your email. Before you become emotionally, mentally or physically ill from overworking, stop for a minute or two to think about what you can do about it.
Customer contacts come in many forms and for many reasons. Customers may be phoning you to ask you for more details about your products. They may want to check up on an order. Perhaps your orders are done online, and you are alerted by email. Whatever reason for a customer to contact you, it’s possible you could do more. Try to avoid lengthy telephone conversations or return emails that eat into your time and energy.
If you are having several calls a day about product enquiries, it is possible you need to provide more details on your website. Make a note about the questions that are coming in. If you can pre-empt them all with detailed product information on your website, customers may not feel like they have to phone you for clarification. Do you have an automated email response set up for your online orders? Have a look at some you have received from online retailers. Pick the ones that satisfied you the most and try to emulate them. If a customer is concerned you have their payment details but no thorough acknowledgment about the progress of your order, they will try to contact you.
Perhaps your calls are questions about your business in general. Could any of the information you provide verbally be placed on your website? It may be that your customer base or service you provide is telephone biased anyway. If the nature of your business is sensitive, or your customers provide a more bespoke service, you will undoubtedly need to take more calls than some other businesses.
If you are too busy to handle calls in the manner you would like to, try finding a provider of telephone answering services to manage your calls for you. Outsourced businesses specializing in speaking to customers can offer a level of service and professionalism you may not have the time or resource for. Usually, you can give them some scripted answers and product information. This may mean they can answer all of your customer enquiries on your behalf.
Outsourcing your telephone answering can be a great way to save on staffing costs. If you are a small start-up away from the centers for good staff in this area, you may be better off tapping into these great resources. You may just need someone to answer the phone and take messages for you when it is busy. There are lots of companies that can provide several levels of service, including ad hoc or overflow call handling. Try visiting one of the telephone answering service providers you are interested in so you can get an idea how they will be looking after your customers.
Sometimes it is necessary to call in some help and outsource part of your business. If you are busy, it is a good sign you may be ready to expand. This is very hard to do if you are a one-man-band kind of business. Start-ups in particular usually have cash flow problems restricting expansion. Contracting third parties to take on small parts of the job on an ad-hoc basis gives you a chance to test the waters before committing to more staff or extra resources.
It is never easy to get a business going. It is even hard to get it to a profitable stage. Earning a living from your start-up is the toughest job of all. We prefer to plow as much money back into our businesses as possible in the hope that one day it will grow to a size where we can live comfortably. It is hard work, and it can take its toll on us. If you are starting to feel under the weather, you may be concerned about taking a break from your business. Family and friends may be able to help a little, but relinquishing the helm can be a risk.
However, if you do not take a break when you are going through a rough patch, you may be setting yourself up for disaster. Physical illness is one thing that may take you out of action for a week or two. Mental or emotional problems may render you out of action permanently. If you are concerned at all, or starting to notice a strain, consult your doctor immediately.
Even if you are not ready to outsource any part of your business yet, having these services on standby may make all the difference at particularly busy or difficult times. Take the time to get to know what is out there, and meet with those companies you might use in the future. It won’t hurt to be prepared, and it might just save your business down the line.
If you can spare the time to check your website to ensure it meets the needs of your customers, this too may save you the trouble later. If you can reduce the need for a customer to phone you, it saves your business a great deal of time and money. See what more you can do for your customers today.