How do you help clients talk to you without distracting you?
16th June 2021, 3:05 pm
Concentration is like gold dust at times. Or at least the ability to focus on our work. It takes approximately 25 minutes to continue with a task after a disruption. If you multiply that several times throughout your day, you end up with a lot of wasted time. At the same time, you don’t want to let client service levels slip-up. Here’s a few ways to manage both.
Research shows that interruptions at work not only lead to jobs being completed at a slower rate, but can lead to stress over the long-term too. This is obviously unhelpful for you, your clients and employers – and your family having to deal with your bad mood due to stress.
There are ways to cut down the number of distractions and interruptions from clients, without them necessarily feeling like they’ve been abandoned.
Dedicate specific time to replying to emails– most people compulsively check their emails, so don’t think you’re alone there. But this is probably the number one time-thief. Productivity gurus will tell you not to check your emails in the morning, but client needs can’t be ignored. What is in your control is when you reply to them. If you’re fresher in the morning, plough through your tasks, then respond to emails in the afternoon. People are more respectful of this than you might think, and it’s becoming a popular way of managing emails.
Be strict about taking calls– a ringing phone can be as irritating as a mosquito buzzing about your ear. But if a client really needs to talk to you, it’s usually the first thing they’ll do. You could ignore it, but Moneypenny research shows that 69% of people will hang-up at the sound of a voicemail greeting rather than leave a message, so it wouldn’t be the best customer service move to divert all calls to voicemail. Having a dedicated person to answer and field calls relieves this problem; your client gets to speak to a real person and leave as detailed a message as they want, and your phone remains unringing.
Offer an alternative to a phone call– not every client needs to make a call, but still wants to ask a question or have a conversation with a real person. This is one of the reasons managed live chat on websites is growing in popularity, including in the B2B market. They can have the dialogue they need with a real person. Depending on the question or information they’re after, the live chat agent may be able to answer there and then. If not, the agent can pass the request on to you to pick up later.
(Not) available all hours– I’ve spoken to several directors recently who will allow their clients to call them in the evenings, sometimes even at weekends too. They aren’t particularly happy about doing this, but feel they have no other option. Just as with ignoring emails until you’re ready to respond (within a reasonable timeframe, of course) the same applies with taking calls. If you don’t feel that diverting calls to voicemail or letting it ring out is giving the good service you want to offer, diverting to an answering service can put a bit of distance between you and your client, without jeopardising your relationship with them. And the message you receive means you’re able to be better prepared when you do call them back.
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