It’s 9:00pm, you want to get into your new high tech bed and enjoy a night of blissful sleep.  But, alas, your new purchase isn’t working properly and you can’t troubleshoot it on your own, so you decide to turn to the company for help.  You then find that they don’t staff customer service outside of the standard hours of 9-5.  This type of scheduling conflict is a problem for customers but is often overlooked by companies, and it ought to be addressed.

There are three different categories of customer timing issues for us to consider.  The first, as illustrated by the bed example, is the simple matter of when our products are designed to be used.  Wedding technology to a product meant to be used at night will naturally result in tech support needs at night.  Providing support only during standard business hours will surely result in frustrated customers staying up late, trying to solve the problems themselves.  And lead to tired, irate calls the following morning.  A truly intuitive, accessible troubleshooting section of your website can help a percentage of customers at all hours, but running at least a skeleton customer service crew really is the best way to properly support customers when the customers actually need support.

The second thing to consider is the demographics of the customer base.  Trendy, pricey products may serve a customer base that is predominately employed in fast paced, highly demanding industries who do not have downtime to take care of personal To Do’s during working hours.  If customer service is only available during standard hours, these customers are being precluded from getting help.  If a company is based in one time zone, but a good portion of its customer base lives in another, it’s important to ensure that those customers are also being provided with reasonable customer service hours (ask any Pacific Time Zone customer how frustrating it is to find a company’s support line closes at 2:00 local time).

The last timing issue is staffing for the average call volume at various times.  If customers tend seek support before noon, that is the window to staff more heavily.  If customers tend to call during lunch and in the afternoon, shift the bulk of staffing to those hours.

Mirroring the timing of our customers’ needs is a simple but crucial way to both streamline our delivery of service and increase our customers’ level of satisfaction about their interactions with us.  So let’s do away with automated messages alerting customers to “a higher than normal call volume” or the frustration of being closed when they logically need us the most by taking a good hard look at our availability vs our customers’ needs.