Every business has operation hours set to interact with their core customers. It could be the standard 9-5 or even the 24-hour cycle. Regardless of when you are “open” you should have a strategy in place to let your clients, partners and anyone else know when to expect a response from your team.
With social media and technology at our fingertips, the expectation that someone will respond to an inquiry is almost immediate, but that’s not always possible. Outlining your response times, operational hours and general communications guidelines helps define those expectations. All of these things can be highlighted on your website, email, social channels and any other forms of communication your business may have.
Your company’s website should have an easily accessible contact page or section that lists your phone number, email and business hours. You may find it helpful to provide specific contacts for certain inquiries. For example, if there is a sales question, provide sales contact info.
If you have a contact form for visitors, after they click submit, state how long a response will take along with the confirmation that the message was sent. By doing this, you will provide a realistic timeline for the visitor while giving them reassurance that their message was received.
Your email signature can hold a lot of helpful information to anyone you are communicating with, especially those you are actively doing business with. Don’t be afraid to list your business hours or even when you will be taking long absences from work, such as vacation, within your signature.
Having your business hours listed in your email signature helps those you are communicating with know when you are most likely to be at your desk for correspondence. Listing days when you won’t be available can give people a heads up before they receive an out of office reply when sending something important or timely.
If someone wants immediate information on your business, they may go to social media. Making sure that your profile is equipped with the right contact info and how people can reach out is key to building and maintaining relationships. Within your bio areas, provide your contact info such as phone or email as well as your hours of operation.
For many social platforms you can set “away” times along with an automatic reply for when people direct message your business. Similar to your business hours, set up when you will be offline or out of office. Your automatic reply could let users know when you will respond or provide an alternative communication method.
It’s not uncommon to be on a website and have a chat bubble (chatbot) come up to ask if you need assistance with anything. These chatbots can be helpful in letting visitors find answers quickly and can also be used in general communication. Website chat plug-ins, such as Facebook Messenger, can be set up to address frequently asked questions, linked to a call center or provide direct access to someone that is available within your company.
Chatbots for your website can be made available 24/7 or during certain windows of time. Be sure to frequently check that the chatbots are working properly, as a bad customer experience, even with a chatbot, will reflect poorly on the company.
It doesn’t matter how an existing or potential customer tries to contact you, having the right communication channels prepped to let people know when to expect responses can help keep relationships thriving and help build new ones.