The benefits of flexibility and providing an ‘always on’ service.

 

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that to survive, businesses need to be agile. Business leaders need to be able to pivot at any moment, quickly react to changes outside of their control and have the flexibility to shift and evolve their strategies in the face of unforeseen and unexpected market conditions.  The Covid 19 pandemic has had some long lasting effects on the world – effects that will last for generations to come. The ‘new normal’ will be survived by those businesses who are flexible, agile and open-minded enough to re-evaluate the way they operate.

According to McKinsey, 2021 will be the year of transition. Barring any unexpected catastrophes, individuals, businesses, and society can start to look forward to shaping their futures rather than just grinding through the present.

The pandemic has driven businesses to adopt new ways of working and has forced a move to digitisation far quicker than many had planned for. In a recent survey, the average share of communications through online channels was shown to have grown from 32% to 55% in less than 12 months of the pandemic.

Many in the property sector have already begun to embrace these changes – and with great results. According to FocalAgent, properties marketed with professional, digital marketing packs, floorplans and 360° tours, alongside advertising and premium listings, are selling 48% faster than those listed without. Their study also showed evidence of potential savings in marketing efficiency, claiming that it increases the overall volume of viewings by 13% on average. Best of all, the findings outlined an average £1,600 increase in sale value where these tactics were employed.

Impressive stuff and this isn’t a flash in the pan. Over the course of the pandemic, two-thirds of consumers said they changed the way they made their purchasing choices and over 65% of those have stated they’re likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

So it’s all good news on the digital front? Well, yes and no. A move to a digitally focused future opens a number of doors for those willing to change their operating model. However, digital also means customers want instant gratification. They want an always-on, always-available service that they can use at times that are convenient to them – times which won’t necessarily be convenient to you. The traditional 9-5 is quickly becoming a thing of the past as consumers take control of the way they want to make their purchases.

So, how does this affect the way you keep in contact with your customers?

Always Available

You might close your doors at 5pm, but your customers are only just getting started. According to Rightmove, the most popular time for house-hunters to get online is just before 9pm – several hours after most businesses have shut up shop. So what if they want to speak to you, either online or over the phone? How can you make sure you’re ready and available to take their enquiries and hopefully their offers?

Similarly, with property sales continuing to rise, in both volume and asking price, you might be busier than ever and with customers expecting you to be always available, can you be sure you’re going to be there to take their call, respond to their online chat, or reply to their email? Many businesses don’t know how many times they miss a customer enquiry, because they’re on the phone when they call. Think a voicemail will help? Think again – 80% of callers won’t even leave a message.

You need all your communication channels open, all of the time, across online, phone, text, email or however your customers want to reach you. Importantly, you also need to be able to respond. Quickly, efficiently, and effectively. The property market is a competitive place; your customer service is what can set you apart from the rest of the field.

24/7 Operations

If you work in lettings, you’ll already be aware of the stresses and difficulties of providing a 24/7 service. Many letting agencies operate an out of hours phone line, manned by employees who take it in turns, one at a time, to have the responsibility. In other cases, business owners are taking on this responsibility themselves.

Expensive, inefficient and has a huge impact on your work/life balance.

Reasons for customer contact during out-of-hours periods are usually due to stressful situations, which need an immediate response. The most common, time-sensitive emergency call-outs centre around plumbing (48%), gas or heating (45%), electrics (35%) and locks (27%). All need immediate actions and all need someone at the end of a phone, text or message to be on hand to support.

How to succeed in a post-pandemic world

“The estimated number of people using digital assistants worldwide is projected to reach 1.8 billion by 2021.” - GoGulf

 

As a result, what businesses need to truly move into the ‘next normal’ is to become fully agile and adaptable. So that no matter what circumstances get thrown at them, they can adjust and continue moving forward at the same pace.

But how can a business become more agile?

Establish your priorities

When your list of priorities is seemingly never-ending, it might seem impossible to make sudden changes with short notice. The key here is to make your list of priorities small and manageable – perhaps five, at most. After all, in a crisis, not everything on that never-ending list is as important as everything else. Identify your priorities so that no matter what’s around the corner, those five things are always taken care of.

Create a roadmap

If you want to ensure your company is always heading in the right direction, no matter the external circumstances, establish a roadmap that everyone in your organisation knows and understands. That way you can rest assured your company’s people will continue to make decisions that align with your end goal, even if roadblocks sometimes crop up.

Scenario planning

Essentially, scenario planning is preparing for the worst, whatever that may look like. So, a business that used scenario planning pre-pandemic may have already had a plan in place for if a pandemic occurred. It’s the same as ensuring your building and people are prepared for a potential fire. Why should we treat any future scenario any differently?

Outsource your services

Outsourcing is essentially handing over responsibility for various aspects of the running of your business to a remote provider. For example, customer services. By outsourcing services, businesses can get up and running more quickly than if they were to establish an in-house function, since there is no need to recruit, train, and onboard new staff members. Outsourcing also means that during unforeseen events you can scale a provision up or down, turn it off completely, and rest easy knowing that it’s one less thing to think about.

What are the benefits of outsourcing?

“The average employee is only productive for an average of 2 hrs, 53 mins a day.” – Go Remotely

It’s cost-efficient

Hiring full-time staff to answer calls, respond to live chat, and perform other administrative duties is costly and brings with it all the complications of employment.

Outsourcing, on the other hand, is considerably cheaper, and can lead to better results overall. You only pay for what you use – to the second – so that costly 24/7 service where you pay full-time staff to take a couple of calls a night can be a thing of the past.

Benefit from a team of experts

For instance, providing good customer service doesn’t just require customer service advisers to understand all the ins and outs of your business, but it also requires them to have great communication skills. Answering a multitude of calls from different customers with varying issues and pointing each of them in the right direction requires both skill and knowledge.

By outsourcing, you can ensure you’re benefitting from the best of the best in that particular area.

Ability to scale

When you outsource a particular service, it doesn’t matter if that service is having a busy day or not. Ultimately, a good provider should scale their provision up or down depending on need, meaning your business is taken care of whether demand is high or low.

Customer contact can be handed off completely, or in part, based on what resources you have in-house. Ultimately, whenever and however your customers want to get in touch, there’ll be someone on hand to support them

Always on, always available

By outsourcing, you’ll have a customer service resource that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can offer the kind of service your customers expect. This doesn’t just improve satisfaction, but also gives your business a sense of scale and gives your customers confidence in your ability to deliver.

 

How Cymphony can help

We will help you grow your business and realise its potential by taking care of your customer service function. We can answer your calls, manage your live chat, respond to customer queries, and make appointments 24/7. And by making sure that, however busy you get, we’re on hand to give your customers world-class levels of service.

Better yet, with Cymphony you pay by the second, at the same rate, no matter the time of day. So, if we’re not actively working for you, you’re not paying. With a team of trained professionals with expertise in a variety of industries ready to go, we can offer speed to market, with the ability to scale or reduce your service at the drop of a hat.

By answering your calls, managing your live chat, responding to customer questions and making appointments we will help you grow your business and realise its potential by making sure that, however busy you get, we’re on hand to give your customers world-class levels of service.

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