As a small business owner, I'm sure you know that it’s not uncommon for customers to call with an urgent issue. Well, should I say, they call with an issue that they consider urgent.
When that happens, what level of customer service do you promise your clients? If you have a business that offers a quick turnaround service, it's essential to incorporate a system around how you respond to customers. How you handle urgent requests is based upon your branding and your systemic systems. Your best course of action is to plan for urgent requests, they may never happen, but leave time for them. If you don't plan for the urgent what-ifs, you might find that 50% of your time and tasks may be spent on emergencies or things that were never on your to do list. Leave at least an hour of room in your daily schedule to attend to emergencies.
My job as a biz consultant is to be available and responsive to my clients. I know that if I don't plan urgent matters into my day that my day can be hijacked by a client emergency and I’ll lose my day. My system is such that I have people leave a message when they have an urgent matter and when I have my next break, I answer them. I don’t allow their urgency to interrupt my time with another client.
Stephen Covey suggests that certain things are urgent and others are important. I would also add that there are things that feel urgent but may not actually be urgent, hence, the sense of urgency. Something that is due tomorrow is urgent and someting such as paying rent is important. The things that will keep your business going are important but the things that may cause your business to close tomorrow are urgent.
If something is urgent, but not important don’t do it. Do what’s urgent first and then do what is important next. Make a 'someday maybe' list for the things that aren’t urgent or important but that you want to do some day.
When it comes to your time, manage yourself and your client. Instead of responding right away to customers, maybe you can just note that it needs to be responded to and get back to them as soon as you can. Determine what needs to be addressed right away. Don’t act out of fear; don't run your business from the instinctual fight or flight mode.
In order to keep yourself productive and to not burn out your support staff, don’t just respond to the people who are loud. Create a system that works for your business and your client that doesn't leave you wasting days.