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Beware the Perils of Being Available 24/7

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Beware the Perils of Being Available 24/7

I listen to so many small business owners who have told me with great pride, that they’re being available for their customers 24/7.

My perplexed expression shows my concern with this response so I then ask the question of why?

Because here’s the reality of saying that.

Firstly, it’s not possible. You can never achieve it. Because actually being available 24/7 means you never go to the toilet. You never eat; you never sleep. You never see family and friends.  You never have any time off, never play sport and on it goes.

So how about instead we start being realistic about what the perils of 24/7 thinking?

Aside from the unrealistic expectations of being available 24/7 which can never be met by small business owners and their teams, this often also translates into ‘I must answer every single phone call every single time it comes in and every single email as soon as it comes in’ thinking.

What this actually means is everyone, and everything else is driving your business instead of you. 

So here’s my question, what’s the harm in actually letting the phone go to message bank? What’s the harm in turning off your email notifications and instead, check them periodically during the day?  If you did this, it would mean you can spend the time and space you need to focus on what’s important in your business which is sales, marketing, business development, finances and all that ‘on the business’ stuff. 

Rather than constantly spending the majority of your day working in your business, we know stagnant small businesses took an upward success turn and change for the better when they started spending more time working on their business rather than in it. 

And the first step is to change your mindset from ‘I’m available 24/7 because that’s the only way I can provide exceptional customer service’.   Because it’s not.

And it’s also not being an instantaneous business owner. 

If you remain in an instantaneous environment mindset, being available 24/7,  it means you can never be on holidays which is necessary to recharge your body, mind and spirit.

I mentioned this in one of my presentations to small business owners, and an audience member said, “I completely disagree. I am always available to my customers. And I will always answer my phone wherever I am in the world because customers know that’s what I do.  And then I ring my staff to tell them what’s required.”

My response was control freak (in my head), but I actually said, ‘well let’s agree to disagree’.

Because what this behaviour actually means is you haven’t empowered your staff to do the tasks required in their role, and more than likely, you also haven’t documented the systems for them to do it.

So instead of staff feeling in control of their jobs and operating in their most productive and high-performance state, all they’re doing is waiting to be told what to do rather than using their own initiative and being part of the business solution.

An instantaneous mindset also means you keep interrupting a meeting with current or potential customers to answer the phone. And aside from being rude, it also says to this person, ‘you’re not as important as whoever is on the end of the phone’.

And we wonder why businesses lose customers.

I’ve also had audience members tell me they must answer the phone rather than letting it go to message bank because if they don’t answer the phone when it rings, their competitor will.

My response: If that person can’t wait, even for a few moments, are they really the customer you want?

So it’s up to you: What’s your choice regarding response timeframes and the notion of being available 24/7?

My hope is small business owners actually take the time to review their 24/7 thinking to see if this is really working for them, and whether it’s truly what they want – for themselves, their staff and their business moving forward.

Instantaneous thinking is just creating a rod for your back.

Once you change your thinking, the next step is to re-educate your customers about what urgent actually means in this day and age.  Find out what their response time expectation is to determine whether you want the customers who ring you outside of work hours, at all hours the day; whose expectation is when they click their fingers, you will come running.

Because if you agree with this, then you are also accepting this means you only ever have one customer, and you are just waiting with bated breath for them to ring or email you. And of course that’s nonsense, isn’t it?

So I truly hope, if you have a 24/7 available mindset, you take the time to change this. This is then an amazing opportunity to re-educate your customers, existing and new, to ensure they not only are the right fit for your business; but they also understand and respect the power of working on your business rather than just in it.

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