In the run up to Christmas, one of the main questions we face is whether or not small businesses need to pick up calls over the festive period?The answer to this particular question is a subjective one, as it all depends on your type of business.
Here at Face for Business, we are open every working day bar bank holidays and weekends; these are the hours that best suit our clients. In order to get some perspective on how other businesses deal with this issue, we have asked a number of SMEs across the UK to provide us with their comments...
Laura Evans is the Marketing Manager of Create, a family owned small business in the UK that employ 17, but handle over 10,000 customers. They deal with an average of 4,223 enquiries per month.
"Over Christmas there are periods when we must shut the office - Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.We are communicating to customers clearly about these closing times and to manage expectations, but we will be checking social media for urgent enquiries.
We also need to ensure that our system is still running.We worked out a staff rota of coverage amongst the marketing and customer service teams to do this. It's a bit of a must really as our customers are very important to us and as a small business we have flexibility. Nowadays it is quite easy for staff to work remotely."
Natalie Ray is the Commercial Director of The Holiday Bid Game, a company she runs alongside the Company Owner, Samantha Tubb.
"I run a small business based in the UK. We are heavily reliant on social media for our promotion because we don't have a huge advertising budget. For us, it is absolutely essential to keep up with our social media over the Christmas period, for the following reasons - we are launching in January and we need people to be aware of us and know what we are up to; this is a great opportunity for themed Tweets and Facebook updates that people will engage with and be interested in.
People have free time over the holiday period where they will be on social media and many businesses may not be using it. What better time to get noticed?!"
Aly Cranston is the Company Founder and Director of The Rainy Day Box Co. Aly handles the majority of the business alone and deals with between 10 and 15 customer queries a day.
"As being approachable to our customers comes high on our brand's list of priorities, we will be answering our business phone line all over Christmas with the exception of Christmas Day.
It is important to us that our brand remains as accessible as possible over the busy Christmas period, even if this does me as a small business you find yourself juggling many roles."
Dan Strang is the CEO of CrowdReactive, employing 6 individuals in the UK, 2 in the USA as well as 3 global brand representatives based in Africa, Benelux and Brazil. They have handled over 8,000 events over the past year, and subsequently deal with a number of enquiries each day.
"Start up businesses are always open, and as a start up business working in the events industry, we know this more than most.
We always need to be on hand to help customers, whether it's a Christmas church ceremony in Australia or a New Year's Eve party at the O2!
Our first customers are our most important, they are the ones who will become the evangelists that will grow the brand in the future, so we do everything to keep them happy!"
Shireen Cunliffe is the Founder and Owner of Picaloulou, where she works alongside 1 full time employee and 13 freelancers.
"Picaloulou will respond to any call, email, Tweet or Facebook query from a customer over Christmas, if we should get any.
Customers are our lifeblood and without them this small business would cease to exist. Aside from our product-specific USPs, we would rate our customer service as being one of the most important points of difference that we offer.
We really do want our customers to be delighted with both our products and service and it is a very real way that we can compete in a very large market place."
From these comments, one thing is clear: customer service is key!
No matter what sector you're in, it's crucial that someone's there to communicate with your customers when they need to get in touch.