Manage your boundaries by setting clear expectations on your website
One of the challenges to being a business owner is maintaining and setting clear expectations with our customers. Living in an “always available” kind of world, we are accustomed to having what we want when we want it, even if the when is 3 am on a Tuesday morning.
Obviously, you cannot stay focused, amazing and sane when you are “on call” 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Which is why creating boundaries and setting expectations are so important. And communicating these expectations can be done in these five simple steps.
Step 1: Be clear WHEN you are available.
One of the ways most overlooked when setting clear expectations is being clear as to when you are available. This can be done by simply setting your business hours and listing them on your contact page. By adding them to your contact page you are making the information available when potential customers need the information most. And by clearly stating WHEN you are available you are also making it CLEAR when you are not available (aka the hours outside of your normal business hours).
Word of advice… I know you are probably going to work outside of these hours from time to time. Do your best to keep customer responses during business hours only to eliminate confusion.
Step 2: Share the BEST way to reach you?
Sure you may be available to phone, text, email and social media but do you want to have to manage all of those all the time? My guess is there is one way that you prefer to be contacted. Sharing that on your contact page, lets your customers know that to receive the best response they need to use the best method of contact.
Step 3: What is your typical response time?
Letting your customers know how long it may take you to respond is one of the most important steps in managing expectations. To say something like, “I will respond as quickly as possible,” leaves way too much up to interpretation. We all have a different idea about what “as quickly as possible” means. One person may feel a few days is an appropriate quick response, while others may feel you should respond in a matter of hours or less.
Stating it clearly, “I respond to all email messages and voice mails within 2 business days,” lets them know when to expect you.
Word of advice… if you make a point not to visit your email more than once a day, set up an auto-response that clearly states, “I review my email once a day at …” so those emailing you can have a clear expectation as to when you will see their email.
Step 4: What should they do if they don’t hear from you?
While it is rare, communication methods can break. Sadly, there isn’t much we can do about that. I’ve had email messages sent to customers filtered as SPAM, phones break before I could retrieve voice mail. I have even my own contact form messages get filtered as SPAM before arriving to me.
Giving your customers clearly defined next steps offers direction as to what to do next in case they don’t hear from you.
Word of advice… don’t just say, “If you don’t hear from me…” Doing so can feel unwelcoming. Instead say something like, “Your message is important to me, but I know sometimes communication breaks. If you don’t hear from me within 3 business days please …”
Step 5: What is your priority of response?
If you have a business that keeps you busy and on the go, with little time to follow up, outlining your response priorities can make it even more clear as to when you will respond.
For example, you could say something like, “As I have limited time to respond to inquiries, my first response is to my customers. All other inquiries may be delayed during my busy times.”
Bonus step: Make it easy for customers to schedule time with you.
Are in a business that requires one-on-one time with your customers? If so, you can easily manage your availability by including an online scheduler to your contact page. Acuity Scheduling is a great tool that is simple to set up and easy to use. To get a look at how Acuity Scheduling works and looks on your website check out my contact page at https://www.teresaschlup.com/contact.