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Open for Business – Is 24/7 service on your radar?

05/14/2010

Like so many other working people out there, I sit down at my computer to take care of my “household business” at about 8pm. A few nights ago I had a stack of papers to go through, bills to pay and some emails to send off. One of my tasks included setting up an appointment with a contractor to obtain an estimate. (The never ending tasks of homeownership, I guess.) I completed the online contact form as my last bit of “business” for the night at about 8:30. My phone rang before I even got the confirmation email.  That’s some turnaround time! Seriously, I would have been impressed if they called me the next day by 10AM.

 Here’s what I liked about this interaction:

  1. The company, likely seeing when the majority of their requests come through, staffed appropriately. I would venture to guess that they see a lot of web traffic after 7pm.
  2. The phone rep was pleasant, brief and helpful, and my estimate was scheduled for a time that was convenient for me.
  3. This one action created a great first impression: prompt and responsive. 

This priority on turnaround time is genius for any kind of contractor. Talk about battling the stereotype of aloof contractors who show up if and when they get around to it. At this point I’m only judging by my first interactions with them, but so far so good.

I got to thinking about the stereotypes we battle in the insurance industry. Instant turnaround time isn’t always possible (or necessary) but I wonder if there are any lessons to take away from this interaction? Now that work can happen pretty much anywhere the internet is available – “on the road” or “in the cloud” – I wonder how many agencies will move to shorter hours, alternative hours or virtual hours?

When do most of your inquiries come into the office? Have you seen a shift in your walk in traffic, phone calls, and web inquiries? Have you experimented with an off hours solution to service clients or to provide staff with flexible working hours?

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