The Internet changed everything for today’s businesses. As recently as 25 years ago, consumers bought from local vendors, over the phone, or through the mail, and for most businesses, a nine-to-five customer service department was more than enough to keep customers satisfied.
Today, however, in an era of WiFi, mobile devices, and constant connectivity, customers expect instant satisfaction when they have a question or problem. And with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, consumers have plenty of ways to broadcast their displeasure if they feel your business let them down. If you’ve ever been the subject of a negative hashtag campaign on social media, you know how detrimental that can be to your business. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of damage control.
Are you on the fence about whether it’s time to add an after-hours call center? Here are some things to consider in making your decision.
How Long Is Too Long Before You Lose Customers?
Although response rates vary by business, industry, and channel, most customers expect to be able to speak to a live representative by phone 24/7. If they reach out by SMS text, a one-hour response time is the benchmark to strive for. On social media, customers expect a response in four hours or less, and with emails, they want a response the same business day. If you aren’t meeting the response times your customers expect, you risk losing them to a business that will.
Are You Resolving Your Customers’ Issues on the First Call?
Research shows that first call resolution (FCR) rates are the single most important performance metric for customer satisfaction. Service Quality Measurement (SQM) Group, a customer service consulting firm, found that for every one percent improvement in FCR rates, businesses see a one percent rise in customer satisfaction, which is a key factor in lifetime customer value.
If your call center isn’t open after hours, or you’re an east coast business with a lot of west coast customers, your FCR rates will automatically suffer, since there is no one available to take that first call. According to the SQM study, you risk losing 38 percent of your customers if their problems aren’t resolved the first time they reach out to you.
What Are Your Competitors Offering?
If your competitors are available for customer questions or concerns 24/7, you risk losing market share if you don’t offer the same availability. Conversely, if your competitors don’t take calls after hours, you have an advantage with potential customers who expect first class customer service.
Customers who get exceptional customer service no matter when they reach out to you to resolve a question or concern are more likely to give your business good reviews, and even recommend you on social media sites. And before you discount the value of online social media word-of-mouth recommendations, keep in mind that 90 percent of purchase decisions are influenced by positive online reviews.
Can You Afford to Miss Out on After-Hours Sales?
How much of your sales are generated or influenced by calls to your customer service department? For most businesses, if just five to seven percent of your revenue is generated by phone sales, it makes sense to staff your call center 24/7. If you have representatives available to answer questions and take detailed instructions for custom orders after normal business hours, you are tapping into a potential audience that means the difference between just staying afloat and being profitable.
Most businesses today need to have a 24/7 presence for their existing and potential customers if they want to compete. If you can’t afford to staff a round-the-clock call center in-house, partnering with a third-party call center solution is another way to improve customer loyalty and lifetime value, and it can lead to increased sales.