Clocking off for Christmas: How to avoid lost sales

BusinessZone
Dan Martin
Former editor
BusinessZone.co.uk
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You deserve a break at Christmas but how can you ensure your business doesn't miss out on sales while you're away? Rory Whelan, voice marketing manager at eReceptionist, offers advice.

Your business is important so you'll never want to miss a customer call but at the same time we all need to take a break over the festive period.

Research shows that entrepreneurs feel refreshed and renewed after a holiday but if your small business is like most, then customers and vendors will often call you directly, tying you to the company 24/7. So how can you take a break without damaging your business?

1. Plan ahead
As with everything in business, one of the most important things you can do is plan your schedule. Make sure you plan:
  • If you need to be on call, when will you be available?
  • Is a festive break optimal in your business cycle? If you are a publican or a toy shop owner, then probably not
  • Will your orders be fulfilled on time and what are the chances of a late order?
  • What can you do with your business calls?
2. Stop worrying about your business
Many business owners  experience 'separation anxiety' from their company when taking a break. Psychologists recommend setting aside a certain amount of time each day to check emails as it keeps you attached. Build this time into your itinerary for the day and make sure it fits in with what you plan to do to ensure you enjoy that break:
  • When do you plan to carry out activities? Are you taking the kids to a pantomine? Do you want to hang up a do not disturb sign when the Boxing Day sales start?
  • How does your daily 'check in' fit with your normal working day? If you normally have most calls and emails in the morning, then that's probably the best time to check in
  • What you are going to do to ensure that while you are away from your desk you don't miss out on business? 
This can help you relax and enjoy your festive break instead of constantly worrying that you are letting your business down.
3. Forward your calls
If you or someone else miss a call and it goes to voicemail, surveys show that most customers, especially new ones, will not leave a voicemail message; they'll just call someone else.
A virtual receptionist can solve this issue by answering all your calls and then directing them according to how you set it up. So if you know you'll be away; make sure to set up call forwarding, which works on any phone and can divert to landline or mobile, and let a colleague take the call on your behalf. No missed calls mean no missed business.
It all means that you'll get to enjoy your Christmas break, safe in the knowledge that you're not missing out on business just because you're away from your desk. You, your family, your colleagues and customers can have a merry Christmas and come back relaxed and refreshed, ready for another successful year.

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By KateCB
21st Nov 2012 12:12

Your advice is great if you have 'colleagues' who can take the call on your behalf - what about the situation where a family of 4 work together, spend their Christmas break together and therefore are 'together' when that call comes in?

My problem is this - my husband and I run the business, my daughter who lives at home, along with her fiancee also work in the business - we go Christmas shopping and Boxing day sales together, AND all have different areas of expertise - no good asking my daughters fiancee about embroidery design, or me about the nuances of bespoke software!

Sadly, given our 24/7/365 culture now, all consumers expect all retailers/service providers to be open 24/7/365 - we have listened as our technical support line rings at 3am, or order line for martial art supplies, print, embroidery rings at 7am on a Sunday morning, and the general 'catch all' number rings frequently between 10pm and 1am. Its the age we live in, we NEED a break, but our customers don't allow it.....we even took a laptop on holidya this year and checked in twice daily to try and keep up with everything!

Another article here states that you  can double your money by going self employed;You CAN, but you work double the hours to do it, and you are not allowed a Christmas break!

 

- www.accentmas.co.uk Specialist embroiderers for Martial arts belts, English to Japanese translations and Martial arts print requirements. A division of Carter Brown Systems Ltd OEM Operating system Software, bespoke software, Custom PC builds, memory/h

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By eReceptionist
21st Nov 2012 15:59

Hi Kate

It's one of the joys of entrepreneurship really isn't it - getting that call at 7am on a Sunday or when you're fighting your way through the crowds at the sales, but customers are the source of our incomes and we do our very best to make sure that we answer them all the time.

As you all have different areas of expertise on your family/team one of the things that we have from the eReceptionist point of view that you may find useful is having an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) or as the rest of the world calls them the 'press 1 for sales, press 2 for support' caller menus - you can easily set one up (and we get voice artists to record them) which could have Press 1 for Embroidery, press 2 for bespoke software - I'm sure you get the picture :) so that could help direct calls for you.

The other (and I find this one saves me from sleepless nights worrying about missing a call) is call scheduling - again this could be useful when the Sales are on - what you can do is use the scheduler so that calls to the main number or to one of the extensions go to someone else at certain times or certain dates. So maybe if you are at the boxing day sales it goes to your husband (who may be at home watching 'the great escape' - since that's on the telly every Christmas) gets the phone call - the customer is happy as their call is answered by the person 'on duty', your business is happy as it gets the business and you get the break so you're happy.

Both of these features come as standard from us so hopefully they'll solve at least some of your call management this Christmas

Find out more about IVRs and call scheduling at www.ereceptionist.co.uk - and have a good festive season!

-- eReceptionist The affordable phone number and phone system solution for UK business www.ereceptionist.co.uk

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