Should your account managers be on call 24/7?
By Julian Harlow
Is it necessary for account managers to be on call at all hours, ready to answer a client's every need at any time?
As technology continues to improve communication tools, the world is increasingly available to consumers around the clock. For any business in a service-oriented industry, this has led to expectations that they will provide services not just during business hours, but whenever the service is needed. The problem for business owners is how to respond to those expectations in a way that both satisfies your customers and benefits your business.
Your staff are assets worth protecting
Imposing unrealistic demands on your account managers is a sure route to failure. Not only does your business have a responsibility to provide reasonable work hours for staff, your business can also be directly harmed by unworkable expectations. By asking too much of account managers, your enterprise faces losing managers who may have received extensive training and built relationships with customers, while those account managers who stay may be run ragged and now be providing poor service.
Give your customers clarity
The best way to prevent customer expectations from becoming a burden is to play an active role in setting those expectations. By providing your customers with clarity in regards to your business's hours of operation and what processes are available to them outside those hours, you can prevent customers becoming frustrated.
If you have a customer relationship management (CRM) platform in place, make sure that it is used effectively and that your account managers keep the information in the database up to date. If the needs and issues of a client are fully noted in the CRM, staff other than the client's account manager will be able to assist the client. This avoids the situation where a customer will only speak to their account manager, leading to frustration when that manager is not available.
Don't spend all your effort trying to satisfy that one customer
Even with the best service levels from your account managers and other staff, there will always be the occasional customer who requires additional attention. It may be that the client is important enough to your business that it is worthwhile adding resources to your customer service to ensure their needs are met. However, at a certain point it may be time to rethink the importance of that client. If the time and effort required to satisfy them is acting to the detriment of your business, it may be time to encourage them to seek another provider. With luck, they could be causing headaches to a competitor while your business is able to focus on your other clients.
As the meaning of normal business hours continues to lose importance, it can be easy to think that businesses must become increasingly available. It is true that businesses must now ensure customers know what they can do if there is an emergency out of hours, but that is different to forcing staff to be available at all times. The mantra within customer service of exceeding expectations is very difficult to achieve if customers automatically expect everything, so actively setting those expectations for customers can even allow your business to impress customers by going the extra mile on those occasions it is called for.