After a great weekend, especially a long one, Mondays can start slow. Like, your office opens at 9, but you’re not fully awake until 10:30. After 4 cups of coffee, 30 mins of Facebook scrolling, and an hour of email, you’re ready for the day. And even then, you don’t really respond to the emails, as your brain isn’t ready for that. You just start perusing to get an idea of what your day will be like. And then a customer calls. It’s only 9:15, crap. Why are they calling? Don’t they know I’m not awake yet? That I can’t put a full coherent sentence together?
We’ve all been there. Especially if you got little sleep because of early rising little rascals. Or because your brain just won’t stop filtering through your to do list. Or because you just couldn’t stop watching yet another addicting Netflix original tv show. Been there done that! But unfortunately, the customer will not wait.
Let the Clock Remind You When It’s Opening Time
When the clock says it’s opening time, it is. When I used to work in the investment industry, our typical hours were 8:30-5 (every financial advisor makes their own hours). So, of course, those were the phone hours as well. But admittedly, when a client would call at 8:30 and 3 seconds, or 8:32 and 30 seconds, I would always think, ugh, why are they already calling? What’s wrong with them? Don’t they know I just sat down? Why couldn’t they wait until 9:30 to call?
After going through this long argument in my head before I’d pick up the phone, I reminded myself, oh yeah, because we’re open for business. And because they don’t magically know what hours I’m actually ready to talk to them. The ones that I have in my head, and basically change everyday. The hours within the business hours, that I deem good to do business in. As much as I wanted them to just know what these hours were, they just didn’t. And sad as it may be to your tired brain, neither do your customers.
When a customer calls or walks in the door during business hours, being ready is a non-negotiable. Not just starting the coffee, or just changing from “walk to work shoes” to “work shoes,” or just walking in the door. But coffee brewed and poured, “beautiful but would never walk long distances in them” shoes on, emails read and replied to, ready. So that when a customer calls or walks through the door, you’re ready to impress.
Irritating as it is to have those customers who call just when you’re opening, or closing, they are still within your business hours. So, if it’s 9:01, to an anxious customer with burning questions, they have been through agony giving you that minute head start to get ready for your day. Or that customer who calls at 4:59 on a Friday, just can’t wait until next Monday for your help. Something is that urgent, to them.
Make “Office Hours” and “Open for Business” Hours
But what to do when you really need that time to start your day, or end your day without customers? State that your hours are later than the time you can comfortably walk through your door in the morning. And close your doors a little earlier than the moment you’ll be leaving. Your office hours should be different than your open for business hours, maybe half an hour to an hour on each side. Depending on what works best for you. And make sure to only tell your customers your “open for business” hours. Your office hours are only for you and your employees to be aware of.
And once you make up your hours, stick to them. If a customer calls during your office hours, but before your actual “open for business” hours, feel free to let it go to voicemail. Because that time is yours. Not theirs. That way you can give your best to those customers who need assistance in their hours. While also giving time to yourself to wake up for the day, or shut down the day, in yours.
Don’t Shame Customers for Their Poor Timing
Cause let’s be honest. It’s never fun to feel like you’re putting someone out by trying to do business with them. Like when you walk up to a sub shop at 8:30, and realize that all of the chairs have been set on top of tables, condiments are put away, and there is no one in sight. You think oh, shoot, they must be closed. And then you see that they don’t close until 9:30. Do you go in and hunt someone down, and risk having them make you the crappiest sandwich known to man because you’re putting them to work when they’re trying to get out the door? Even though they’re technically supposed to be open for another hour? Or do you just leave and find some place else that stays completely open and ready for business, until the actual moment that their store closes.
Let’s not put our customer in that position. Having them choose between knowingly making us royally mad or them losing sleep, because they have a burning question at the end of the day. Because as long as the client is calling during business hours, to them, that’s exactly when they should be calling. They don’t know our secret schedule of when we actually want them to call. So even if it is 4:59 on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, and the moment that you leave your office, you’ll be taking off for Martha’s Vineyard, take the call. Although it’s insanely infuriating, it may just be a call that could change your whole career.
If you’d like even more help getting ready to care for your clients spectacularly well, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how!