The Internet never sleeps, which is lucky for your customers but not so fortunate for you, the business owner (or manager, or person in charge of customer service). Around-the-clock availability is a huge responsibility! Plus, if it’s not utilized correctly, you could wind up losing customers. How do you appear reachable without losing sleep or quality of life? By following a few cardinal rules of customer service in the always-awake Internet world.
Answer Questions Before They’re Asked
Take note of the questions customers seem to ask over and over again, then schedule daily and weekly posts with answers to those questions. Even if you’re out of the office and unplugged for the evening, you can still be auto-posting to your accounts with details like your hours of operation, links to your website and payment policies.
Turn-Around Time is Longer Than You Think
According to SocialFish.org, consumers treat the Internet the way they do humans – they understand when you’re sleeping, eating, on vacation, enjoying a Sunday afternoon… As long as you’re giving some type of response, the timestamp doesn’t matter too much. That doesn’t mean to respond after three days because, hey, you acknowledged the customer; it does mean that you don't have to check your Twitter at 11 p.m. So long as you write back by the next morning, no harm has been done (assuming you don’t run a business where customers have serious, time-sensitive emergencies). If days turn into weeks, the customer feels like their question or comment has been lost, but up to 12 or so hours is a perfectly fine window of time to give yourself.
Too Much Customer Service is Detrimental
There’s a drawback to providing too much customer service outside of normal business hours. Let’s say you offer brochure design services. If a customer Tweets you at midnight to ask your rates and you reply to their question, they may ask to speak with you on the phone right then. Since there’s only so much service you’re willing to give when it’s past your bedtime, you leave those Tweets unanswered until the next morning. This is confusing for the customer because they just heard back from you – is the person they want to hire an undependable flake? If you let most interactions happen during your working hours, or provide self-service options, there are more resources for the customer to get exactly what they want and they won’t expect full services 24-7.