To what extent does an “open all hours” policy with regards to communications give added value to clients, or help generate new business?
Most organisations are now accessible online 24:7, and many individuals are contactable by email outside regular office hours. Here at Fresh Tracks we don’t have any hard and fast rules about who should be available at specific hours, but we want to offer as good a customer service as we can to both existing and new clients. As a result, we’ve been trialling various options to deal with phone enquiries out of hours and wondered if anyone had any views, research information or comments.
How to handle out of hours calls?
In general we resort to the good old answerphone for any out of hours queries, with details of emergency or urgent contact details given in our answerphone message. Does anyone have an opionion (or research) on what business might be lost if someone, calling say at 10pm on a Friday night, gets an answerphone and refuses to leave a message?
As an alternative we’re trialling out of office phone answering by senior event managers, so currently someone can call at any time of the day (or night) to speak to Fresh Tracks about team building, conferences or any of our other training programmes. We don’t have huge numbers of out of hours calls and haven’t (yet) noticed a significant increase in enquiries as a result of this policy. And whatever benefits there may be need to be weighed against the fact that by their very nature, these calls can be unexpected, possibly disruptive to family or home life and callers may not always get a standard office-style response.
So we may just go back to the answerphone. In the meantime it would be interesting to find out what other organisations do, and if they’ve seen any results from out-of-hours answering services.