Today I am challenging the common belief, that to provide the best customer service, you must always be available to customers. You must always immediately take their calls, meet them personally when they appear, and be at their beckoned call. I want to propose that this practice is a recipe for disastrous customer service. My challenge is specifically directed to sole proprietor business owners, independent contractors, realtors, and outside sales reps, but this lesson applies to everyone’s personal life as well.
Trying to make yourself available 24/7 is dysfunctional. First, it is impossible. Whether you admit it or not, you need a good night’s sleep to function well. Most people are woefully sleep deprived. Second, to be your best, you need to take time to care of your body through regular exercise, relaxation, and eating a healthy energizing diet. Third, to experience a quality life, you need to take the time to cultivate inner harmony and integrity. This simply means that you have clarified what’s most important to you and you align your daily choices and activities with those priorities.
“But Dave”, you protest, “My customers expect me to be available whenever they need me. It is a jungle out there, and people don’t like to be put off. When they are ready to do business, they want it now! That is just what it takes to get the edge in today’s marketplace.”
My response is simple. Who do you think you are? Superman? I-Robot? A machine? Even machines need downtime for maintenance, and cell phones need to be charged! If you are a 24/7 person, then you are in denial. I don’t mean to be harsh, but you really need a reality check. Well rested, harmonized, fit, and happy people are the best salespeople, customer servants, and businesspeople that provide the best customer service.
“OK, Dave, I am interested. But how can I change it? My employees, my spouse, my children, my customers, my friends – they all expect me to be there for them whenever they call. How do I change that without upsetting everyone?”
It is a good question. It begins by committing to changing expectations and beliefs. You have taught everyone, by your actions and responses, to expect you to be there for them 24/7. It is time to reschool everyone, starting with yourself. Before you address others, you must define your values and identify what is most important to you. Then you need to create the schedule and practices that will support those values. Then you are ready to schedule conversations with your family, friends, and customers to create agreements on how you can best serve and relate to them within the boundaries of your new schedule. These agreements will include a clear understanding of your availability and limitations.
When you are ready to do this and no longer willing to settle for an overwhelmed, stressful, anxious life and business, call me. I enjoy helping people find harmony, contentment, and the joy that comes from reclaiming their life and business.