Downtime can be costly to small businesses—you can lose customer good will and sales if you’re not operating. Here are four ways to reduce downtime and improve your customer service so it doesn’t seem like you’re down if customers are disconnected and can’t reach the person they were just talking with.
When a small business is unable to function, it’s bad news—and costly. An IDC survey1 of small and medium-size businesses found that downtime costs $8,200 to $25,600 an hour, and events that caused downtime often lasted a devastating 24 hours. When people rely on your business, it’s critical to keep going no matter how. Here are four key ways to keep the doors (phones and website) open.
1. Develop an employee action plan
When a crisis like a major storm or hurricane strikes, it’s critical you can respond quickly and coordinate with your workers. An employee action plan documents the roles and responsibilities that employees have in the recovery effort, eliminating costly confusion and time lags in getting back on your feet. “Use phone, texting and social media to provide updates on your recovery process and to let everyone know you’re still in business,” according to James Rivera, an official at The Small Business Administration, which provides a wide range of resources2 to help you prepare for emergencies.
2. Automatic, but not on autopilot.
Virtually every business relies on data to function today. “Your recovery plan will be a moot point if the data you are saving is old, corrupted or incomplete,” points out Stefanie D’Aulizio, a spokesperson for MyITpros, an IT consulting firm in Austin, Texas. Essential to preventing downtime is automatic data backups, which keep the copies in a remote location or the cloud, allowing you to keep working seamlessly even if the worst happens. Optimum Business customers get Internet security from industry leader McAfee. Among the program’s other features, it allows users to preserve irreplaceable personal information on demand, on a schedule, or before a smartphone that's gone missing is wiped; then restore that information to any supported mobile device.
At the same time, don’t let your disaster planning go on autopilot. D’Aulizio says lots of small businesses find themselves in trouble because they don’t test their disaster recovery plan or revise them as their business grows.
3. Use same-day service providers.
If your Internet or phone system is down, you need to get it working fast. That’s why it’s critical to work with service providers who respond to your needs immediately. For example, Optimum Business provides a Same-day Service Guarantee, ensuring that they will begin working on any issues with your service the same day they are reported, even if they need to send a technician to your site.
4. Offer responsive customer service.
Bad customer service is not good for your business. A study3 by Consumer Reports identified the most notable customer service irritants. The list is led by the inability to speak with a person on the phone (sited by 75 percent); being disconnected (74 percent), and not being able to reach the same customer service rep if previously disconnected (71 percent). A shoddy, non-responsive customer service department can be the same as “downtime” if customers can’t get the help they need, so instill a culture of service where customers come first. Optimum Business provides live support 24-7, ensuring that customers can always receive immediate assistance. Because if you can’t get the service you need when issues arise, you can’t be of service to your customers.
1IDC 2015 SMB Business Continuity Study, IDC/Carbonite, April 2015.
2Starting and Managing Your Business, U.S. Small Business Administration.
3”The Problem with Customer Service,” Consumer Reports, July 2015.
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