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Phone calls after 5 p.m. are inevitable in the portable sanitation industry. Your response to after-hour sales and service calls affect your company’s reputation and bottom line.
Potential clients call after they leave work, but your office is already closed. They plan their event over a weekend and want to reach a PRO for a quote. Sales calls, while not always emergencies, are an opportunity to increase business.
Service calls come in at various times. Many events take place during non-business hours, so emergencies are more likely to occur after hours. Plus, not all clients understand what constitutes an emergency.
Your response to off-hour calls sets the tone for future contact with clients. PROs handle these calls differently, depending on their market, size of business, and the number of employees. If you’re fielding an increasing number of off-hour calls, develop a process to address these issues.
Convey Hours Clearly
Manage client expectations by being clear about your availability. List your office hours on your website, social media, and other business pages, like Google and Yelp. Include your hours on service contracts. Add them to your voicemail so callers immediately know what to expect.
Avoid customer service issues by going over your policy for off-hours calls. Circle or highlight the emergency phone number on their service contract. Offer specific instructions on what defines an emergency. Give clients a time range so they know when to expect your call back. Setting boundaries and listing hours boost customer satisfaction.
Forward Your Company Number
Small businesses and solo operators expect to work after hours. Call forwarding is an inexpensive way to handle off-hours calls. It’s also a pain because there’s no option to screen calls. PROs find themselves answering additional calls that could have waited until the office was open. While call forwarding works in a pinch, adding an automated voicemail system better manages your time and customer expectations.
Use an Automated Voicemail System
Upgrading to a computerized voicemail system lets you manage off-hour calls with less stress. Give a choice of leaving a message or being forwarded to someone immediately during an emergency. A third option is to tell people to hang up and call your emergency phone number.
Regardless of what options you choose for your voicemail, make sure to state your office hours clearly. Tell callers what information to leave on the message and give your estimated response time. If you rely on voicemail without providing an emergency number, frequently check your messages.
Designate an Emergency Cell Phone
Purchasing an emergency mobile phone is a simple way to avoid forwarding calls to personal cell phones. Keeping one phone for emergencies allows you to pass the emergency cell phone to employees during off-duty hours or if you’re on vacation. A dedicated line also reassures your clients.
Create an Off-hour Plan for Calls
Have a system in place for handling off-hour calls so you can delegate these jobs to other employees without sacrificing customer service. Start by taking note of when you receive your off-hour calls.
If you find you have many calls coming in between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., for example, consider manning the office during these hours. Add a shift from noon until 8 p.m. where that employee completes regular office tasks and directs phone calls.
However, if most of your calls occur overnight and on weekends, alternate this work between employees. For example, each week one employee carries the emergency cell phone. They add two hours to their time card as compensation. Then, have a system in place for how they answer calls, record details, respond, and track their hours.
Owning a portable restroom business means choosing what calls to answer and respond to during off-hours. Make it simpler on yourself and employees by anticipating needs and having systems in place. The best plans build your reputation and increase your profits.
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