Open 24/7 March/April 2019

August 4th, 2021 by Bryan

Being Open 24/7

By Manny Hondroulis

I’m entering my twelfth year of writing this column, Open 24/7, and I recently gave some thought to the meaning of the title. What does it actually mean to be Open 24/7? I mean, in 2019 do we have an obligation to customers and prospects to be available around the clock? I feel confident in saying we don’t have this obligation (after all, we have lives) but it may be an expectation.

Honestly, I catch myself being guilty of having this expectation, often being frustrated when I don’t receive an immediate response from any sort of inquiry. But then I take a deep breath and realize that it’s simply not feasible to be available 24/7. Or is it?

Is it Possible?

Giving a prospect the satisfaction of an immediate response may determine whether or not they become a customer. Amazon’s ability to deliver just about anything to your front door within two hours has created a marketplace expectation of instant gratification in terms of how easily we can be contacted, how quickly we respond before and after the product or service is rendered, and how quickly we schedule an install. So how does this affect us?

Cause and Effect

First, customers and prospective clients want their questions or concerns acknowledged and answered quickly. Each communicate differently (telephone, email, text, Facebook, Instagram message, etc.). That means we need to monitor all of these communicative vehicles and respond accordingly. The smartphone makes this a simple task, but if it seems too daunting, assign different colleagues responsibility over each.

Second, you will need to establish general rules of how to communicate, especially since social media comments can be viewed by the world at large. Remember to keep it professional, stick to the facts, answer succinctly, offer empathy (but stand your ground if you’re in the right), and suggest taking certain conversations offline when they should remain private. Remember that when handled properly, a negative comment can be turned into a positive one, not only for that customer, but to any others reading the same thread.

Constant Communication

Timeliness of communication is important but so is the timeliness of providing the requested service. The number of customers and prospects wanting instant gratification will increase as time passes because that’s the world we live in. Now, window film is an installed product and the one consistent challenge I hear from dealers is finding good labor. That topic is out of the scope of this column. Anyway, assuming labor isn’t a challenge what is your ability to install film around the customer’s schedule? Are you able to offer weekend installations? After normal business hours? Are you scheduling too far out? Are you able to offer quick turnaround?

Expand Your Thoughts

Try thinking like a customer: what would you want to see in a window film dealer? I envision a dealer that can be contacted via text during business hours, get back to me within minutes, come to my home within two days after initial contact to make a sales presentation, provide a professional proposal on the spot, schedule my home within one week after signing the proposal, and provide any follow-up such as warranty within three days after completion.

It may not be feasible for you to be this responsive — or maybe you already are. But if you’re not, it’s something you may want to work toward. Amazon is changing the way we buy goods and services and creates an expectation of procurement that extends beyond the online marketplace and into other purchasing decisions. The best thing we can do as an industry is to recognize the trend and make every effort to comply for the convenience of our prospects and customers.

Manny Hondroulis is the vice president of Energy Distribution Products in Baltimore.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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