Hands up who struggled to properly switch off over the festive period? If you could not resist the urge to – or had no choice but to – log into your emails or take business calls between Christmas and New Year, you are not alone.
With 2022 full of economic uncertainty, many franchisees will have struggled to take a proper break over the holidays. The prospect of missing important business enquiries makes switching off far easier said than done. In fact, according to inbound communications specialists Cymphony, the cost to franchisees of missing a call ranges from £400 – £43,600, depending on the services you provide – demonstrating why so many of us find it difficult to relax when we take time off.
Tim Morris is a distinguished franchise professional, customer service expert and the Managing Director of Cymphony. He firmly believes in the importance of franchisees being able to step back and switch off to prevent burnout, increase job satisfaction and improve productivity. He shares his advice to business owners on how to take time off work without missing business and still impressing clients.
1. Set expectations with customers
Managing your customers’ expectations in the run-up to your time off is massively important to ensure customers do not expect a service you simply cannot deliver when you are enjoying down time. Provide your customers with a clear timeline of events, from limited opening hours to on-call services.
You can even provide a timeline for certain activities to be completed before services resume once you are back. Communicating clearly and effectively when setting these expectations with customers is vital to ensure they understand exactly what you can, and cannot, deliver over the holidays.
2. Rota staff so everybody can take a break
Ensuring you and your team get to take a break is crucial for recharging the batteries. Not having quality time off throughout the year can cause low staff morale, leading to an unhappy workplace and decreased productivity. Compiling a rota for when you and your staff are taking time off means everyone gets time to switch off, but it also means that you still have people available to answer important calls from a designated hotline if needed.
3. Choose a day to check in
The last thing you need when taking a break is the constant fear of what may meet you when you get back into the office. Arranging a day during your holiday to touch base with your clients and staff will keep that dread at bay. It does not even have to be a full day. Allocate a couple of hours to run through business-critical activities and contact clients with the shortest lead times on their negotiations or completions.
Touching base is an opportunity for you to get a well-rounded picture of the events that have taken place while you have been unwinding and recharging the batteries. It is a golden opportunity to help you clear some tasks and identify priority tasks to pick up on your first day back in the office. Most importantly, it means your attention is only diverted from spending time with your friends and loved ones for a few concentrated hours and not continually throughout the week.
4. Train your team in the basics of customer service
Before taking time off, ensuring your team can handle customer calls, emails and messages appropriately is vital to having peace of mind when you are on holiday. First impressions always count to the customer, so if you are away and no one else is readily available when the customer is – or the customer is not satisfied with the response they receive – you could miss out on their business.
So, ensure your staff are well trained and informed in the art of customer service. A team that understands the landscape of your business sector and the likely customer journeys your callers will go through will make your business stand out from the competition.
5. Consider outsourcing your inbound communications
If your franchise business has a small team, or you are a one-man band, using an inbound communication specialist to take your calls, pass on urgent messages or answer any FAQs whilst taking time out could be the answer. Outsourcing your communications ensures your business can answer all calls and respond to web form enquiries and messages. It is far cheaper and more effective than hiring a full-time staff member, and you only pay for the time you use (down to the second in the case of Cymphony’s clients).
When training staff or hiring someone full-time, you spend a lot of time upskilling them to ensure they are familiar with the business and comfortable handling the call volume. Plus, you will have to worry about inevitable sicknesses and holiday cover! Outsourcing eliminates these issues by allowing you access to an extensively trained and dedicated team of specialist personal assistants who will answer your calls, web chats and social media 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
By following these tips, you will be able to ensure you enjoy your time off without missing essential customer calls and new business enquiries. To find out more about how Cymphony can help you switch off from work, please visit: https://cymphony.co.uk/