We’ve heard it before, everyone is now 24/7/365.

The internet allows people to access information and shop for items regardless of what day it is, what time it is, and it knows no holiday.  As technology always continues to advance, one has to ask oneself what is the purpose of technology.  That is simple to answer – it is to make us more efficient and allow us access to information when and where we want it.

As a result of this, our lives should become simpler.

This last part is the part that isn’t happening.  Our lives have become literally being on 24/7.  I know that I am not the only one who sleeps with my phone next to my bed while it is charging.  Sure I could turn off the ringer or set the Do Not Disturb, but what if there is a problem and someone needs me.  It could be one of my kids, it could be a relative who is not on my VIP list or worst of all it could be a customer having a problem.

In our line of business we work with a myriad of customers but many of our customers run facilities that are 24/7/365.  And a funny thing happens, when they are at work regardless of the time their mind always seems to drift to marketing. Why?  That’s simple, they are more than likely at work after hours because of an issue.  It could be an issue with staffing, it could be a service deliverable issue, and it could be a human resource issue.  Whatever the problem, their business is taking them away from their family.

What would solve this problem – more capital?  How do you get more capital – more customers?  And how do you get more customers – MARKETING!

marketing diagram

And hence our phones will ring after hours and on weekends to discuss their needs.  Now sure you can say, we work 8-5 Monday through Friday and have them leave a message, but as a business owner you are a bit of a mother hen and you try to ensure that you are exceeding your customer’s expectations.  So you answer your phone 24/7.  The problem here is that it trains your customers to feel free to call you anytime even if it’s not that urgent.  This creates a problem because you are enabling the behavior.  So where is the line drawn.

The employee mentality is very different.  In many cases they put in their time and they go home.  In my day the good employees would at least take internal phone calls in the evenings and do some work from home.  I hear from my colleagues that today they are just lucky to have an employee show up for work.  If that is the case out there, then I hire pretty good employees because that has never been an issue.

But all of that being said, what makes an employee buy into the company’s success with the customer.  Clearly getting them to build a relationship directly with the customer helps with accountability.  But what makes an employee go above and beyond to please a client?  I can tell you from my experience it has very little to do with their education or their pay grade.  Is it the employee’s upbringing and work ethic?  Is it the fact that employee actually believes that it is their mission to please the customer?  Now I get that the owner has a lot more at stake and worries about making payroll, expenses and customer churn and the affect that it has on everyone’s job as well as best ways to expand and grow the business.  Employees on the other hand are worried about making their bills and not losing their jobs.  Most employees work to live and not the other way around. 

The magic question is – does the extra effort of being available to your customers 24/7 pay off in the long run.  Or are you setting yourself up to disappoint your customers.  This all comes back to setting expectations and boundaries.  The same challenge is seen in raising children (not that I am implying that customers and children are the same).  The key is being consistent in the expectations and boundaries that are set.  They need to be established early in the relationship and they need to be upheld across your team.  Part of this is having employees who are confident enough in the services that you offer and in the value you create for your clients.  If they are confident in the company, they are more likely to keep reasonable boundaries.  It is much more difficult for the owners, but it has been shown time and time again that many great ideas come from being rested and from time away from the office.  So as difficult as it is and the demand to always be open – we all need to balance our downtime to allow our batteries to charge.