There aren’t enough hours in the day. It’s something we all complain of and for many, the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. The rise in ‘e-presenteeism’ that’s come with remote working, the shift in consumer communications and the commercial pressure to ‘bounce back’ and capitalise on post-lockdown booms, presents a triple threat and it’s leaving many franchisors and franchisees stressed and burnt out.
Mental Health Awareness Week magnified the issue and the need for long-term changes to promote and protect workplace wellbeing. But how can we ensure that franchisors and their franchisees capitalise actively grow their businesses and protect the client experience, when their people simply can’t work any harder?
Jess Pritchard, Head of Corporate Sector at Moneypenny, which handles 15 million telephone calls and live chats for franchises across the UK each year, shares her advice.
- Know when to be unavailable
This feels counterintuitive particularly when as business owners we want to capitalise on demand, but you can’t do it all. Sometimes you need to be unavailable in order to get work done. Review your diary and consider which times each day or week need to be set aside for focused work. Notify your in-house or outsourced switchboard teams that you’re not to be disturbed so they can pick up all calls, take messages and if briefed property, actively manage new enquiries while you’re busy elsewhere. You can then return calls when you’re free.
- Don’t be limited by the 9-5
In a 24/7 age, consumers do not feel the constraints of traditional 9-5 office hours and will reach-out to professionals at all times of day and night. Smart phones have put the research process into the palm of their hand and given them the means to contact service providers, consultants and retailers at all hours, from anywhere. Outsourcing call handling and live chat eliminates the worry of providing round-the-clock in-house resource and can offer a consistent 24/7 service using clients’ preferred channels. It also means you can be speaking to new clients and potentially winning new work while you and your team sleep.
- Use other tools to give you space AND win you work
Make your website a more valuable resource for clients and prospects so you don’t have to call on your inhouse resources. A well-timed live chat pop-up can help to turn website visitors into potential new clients, answer FAQs and capture salient information so that when you do pick up the phone, it’s a pre-qualified lead. It can also help to keep volume away from the phone – which means less noisy distractions. The instant nature of live chat has made it extremely popular with consumers and enquirers tend to offer more personal information through this medium than any other marketing channel. This presents an opportunity to build rapport, improve client understanding and drive service innovation.
- Delegate proactivity
Tasks such as warming up leads, booking appointments and checking customer satisfaction make up an important part of the sales, lead nurturing and client management proccess – but often fall by the wayside when teams are busy. Use the support of others, particulary outsourced services, to enable you to speak to more clients proactively, find new opportunities to cross and up-sell and ensure clients feel valued.
It’s no secret that when you feel in control of your workload you are more productive and therefore, typically, happier. Striking a balance between a culture of wellbeing, commercial success and loyal clients is the only way to future-proof business and protect mental health in a post-pandemic world. There are only 24 hours in a day – use them wisely and you’ll reap the rewards, financially and emotionally.