Should you abandon normal office hours? - Business Works
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Should you abandon normal office hours?

by Sue Ratcliffe, Head of Client Services, alldayPA It's becoming increasingly evident that our traditional business routine is slowly falling apart at the seams. You'll often find yourself staying later and later at the office in a bid to get things done, but would you consider sacrificing your weekends too, asks Sue Sue Ratcliffe, Head of Client Services for alldayPA?

One of our recent infographics shows that inbound business calls made on a Sunday have made a dramatic increase. Saturday calling also saw growth, albeit at a slower pace than Sunday. The volume of calls being made midweek saw a significant decline, as Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all experienced a drop, with Wednesday seeing the biggest.

should we abandon our regular office hours?

This begs the question, should we abandon our regular office hours?

In this day and age, our customers have high demands when it comes to service. The instant gratification they've grown up with has led them to expect businesses to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Not too long ago, the story was very different. It was seen as an extremely controversial move to allow businesses to open on a Sunday. Britain was ruled by Christian values and Sunday was the day of rest. No shopping, no work and certainly no call handling!

The Conservative Government tried to introduce relaxed Sunday trading laws back in 1986. However, they underestimated the backlash from Tory back benchers and the Labour Party. As such, the bill was scrapped and traditional values were upheld.

It wasn't until 1994 that The Sunday Trading Act came to fruition, allowing businesses to open their doors for 6 consecutive hours between 10am – 6pm. We often forget how much of an impact this has had on other industries. Whereas retailers benefitted from the changes, other businesses are now having to shake up their daily routine to fit in with the trend.

If traditional business hours aren't working for you and your client base, you need to be more flexible and willing to embrace the change.

New laws surrounding flexible working could be an advantage in tackling the new trend. Originally, employees could only apply for flexible working hours if they had a child under 16 or a disabled child under 18. Today, all applications have to be considered by employers.

Perhaps you can come to an agreement with one of your employees to attend to the flux of customer enquiries on a Sunday. If they are intent on working from home or taking time off during the week, you may be able to coax them to take on weekend duties.

There's no way around it, you're going to have to find someone to handle Sunday calls. It's not enough for you to expect customers to contact you via e-mail or social networks.

If you don't have your phone lines open on a Sunday, you're going to be chasing voicemails on Monday and you'll be distracted from more important tasks. It's the same if you allow a backlog of e-mails to build up over the weekend too.

Social Media will not solve the issue

Social media will not effectively solve this issue either. Social Habit recently found that 32% of customers expect a response to customer service-related tweets within 30 minutes. Unless you want to be checking your phone every hour of every day, you shouldn't be relying on Twitter as a means to connect with customers. Clickfox found that 40% of unresolved complaints through social media result in phone calls to the company directly, showing that phone calls still reign as a superior mode of communication.

Ultimately, you will have to ditch traditional business hours sooner or later. There is just too much demand to keep up with and if you’re trying to build your business after the recession, you need to pull out all the stops to keep customers happy. Either you find staff willing to change their shift pattern or you outsource the workload to a professional call centre.

Times are changing at an alarming rate and Sunday calling is just the beginning. Can you keep up?

For more information, please take a look at the Infographic: More Customers Want To Contact Your Business On Sundays

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