According to the beloved Wikipedia, Customer Service is defined as
Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase. “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.”
Customer Service is also found in job listings. One such job post reads as follows:
“As a Customer Service Specialist in *************, you will be answering inbound calls to provide exceptional customer service to consumers. This could include responding to inquiries about products and services, processing payments, or performing general account maintenance. In some situations, up-selling customers to new products or services may be encouraged”
So, now we have determined what it is, and that it is indeed WORK for which people earn a salary.
If I have trouble with my internet, I KNOW they have customer service 24/7 because they gave me a way to contact them at 1:00am to sort out my internet. They gave me a number to call anytime, day or night.
Which brings me to cell phones. When you provide the client with your cell phone number, their natural assumption is that they can reach you no matter where you are, or what you are doing, or what time of day it is. They are thinking “yay! I can reach her anytime I want to!”. Because that is the purpose of a cell phone. To always be available and never miss a call, or a text. Or else, what’s the point?
Every week I read posts on forums “client texted me at 6:30am on my day off, how dare she!” or “It’s xmas eve and they’re still bugging me for appointments” or “I’m in the hospital having a baby and they want an appointment for next week” or “I’m in Barbados and they’re texting me for an urgent appointment today“. Why are you mad at your client for making use of the cell number that YOU gave to her? Why are you surprised? Why are you annoyed? Why are you venting with your peers about how you’re going to ignore that message until the next business day. If you don’t want to work 24/7, WHY are you giving your cell number to clients?
NOW not all of you pitch fits. Some of you accept this as part of the job, being available 24/7. My question is WHY? Do you not deserve time-off like everyone else? Let’s do the math. Divide your weekly earnings by 168hrs (that’s how many hours there are in the week). There’s your hourly wage for being available 24/7 and now you’re making less than the guy that delivers your newspaper.
Do Dentists, or Mechanics take calls outside business hours? No. You get their answering machine telling you to call back at the next business day.
What happens when a tech is too available? She becomes resentful of the interruptions during her ‘time-off’. Her FAMILY will become resentful of those interruptions as well. She will start to lose her mojo. She may perhaps be less pleasant with clients as a result. The list continues. This isn’t good for anyone.
In addition to becoming less than your vivacious self, you give the impression that it’s ok to abuse your time. That your time isn’t as valuable as someone else’s,that you have nothing better to do than to be at someone else’s beck and call.
I don’t know about you, but I have PLENTY of things to do: children to raise, house to clean, dogs to exercise, laundry to do, my own personal appointments to attend to, etc. We have lives, just like our clients do. Just as they appreciate their days off, so should we.
Yes, online media and technology are wonderful things created to make our lives easier. Yes, EASIER for you to run your business. NOT BUSIER. It does not automatically mean that you should work 24/7 and be at everyone’s beck and call. Don’t be afraid to turn the phone off after hours. Don’t be afraid to give clients a land line number only, that goes to an answering machine after hours. It’s healthy to set boundaries. It’s OK to say “No, I’m not available on xyz days under any circumstance”. I’m pretty darned sure that you client who works at the bank doesn’t take Facebook messages at 11pm at night from clients who want to order cheques or to inquire about interest rates.
The mobile phone is for YOUR convenience, not theirs. So make it a convenience, instead of an inconvenience.
Before you ask; no, you can’t have my cell number.