In a world where we all want our information so much quicker than before; is it important for businesses to be available 24/7?
There is no simple answer to this; you need to look at your market and consider if you are missing opportunities or if this would increase your customer’s satisfaction. You may decide that extended hours will be enough, rather than 24/7.
Below are some factors to consider when you are thinking about this move.
Some businesses fall into being available 24/7 without any planning and this could prove more fatal than if they hadn’t made that decision in the first place.
You need to consider internal AND external factors.
Staff are the most fickle of business factors, you need to plan out how to approach this and ask yourself some serious questions:
- Do you have staff that will answer emails/phones in their “own time”?
- Do you need to put in an overtime scheme/schedule? Or do you need to recruit specific staff for a night shift?
- How do you monitor that the job is getting done (effectively)?
- What departments are going to be available 24/7? Or are they all going to be available?
- What will be their responsibilities?
You need to ensure that even though you are (most likely) operating on a skeleton force, you ensure that everything runs smoothly on an operational level.
- What happens if you experience internal technical issues? Do you have technical support that can help in the middle of the night?
- What happens if you get a complaint? Do you have an escalation point? Is that person on-site or remote?
- Are there a set document of procedures for all standardised tasks?
- Do you have a set SLA for dealing and responding to an issue?
- What happens in the event of an on-site disaster? Does everyone know what is supposed to happen?
Technology can enhance the user experience, you should consider if there are any systems that can help with this, for example, chatbots. However, let’s look at standard technology that you need to consider when you operate a 24/7 operation:
- Unified Communications – when businesses are considering a 24/7 operation, this is when Unified Communications comes into its own. Unified Communications means that there is no break in your communications, you have one, easy to manage interface which manages multiple facets of your business and simplifies the sharing of the information. You will find that most of the factors are solved with a Unified Communications solution.
- Remote working – Often, you would have an on-call person even if they are just the escalation point. In this case, it is important for the person working remotely, to log on and check out the status of the issue.
- Company mobiles – Consider giving those who work remotely (as the escalation point) company mobiles. (View Company mobiles blog)
- Backups – It’s important to consider how often your business needs backups, even more so if your business hours are extended and therefore you run the risk of losing more data.
- Disaster Recovery – You need to write into your Disaster recovery plan what will happen if the disaster occurs on the night shift and the impact of the business. (Blog about Disaster recovery plans.) Additionally, you need to ensure that someone is aware of those plans.
- Reporting – You need a system which provides a good reporting function to ensure that the night-shift is a profitable and productive investment.
- Security – You need to consider the security requirements to protect your staff. For example, some businesses have the front door permanently unlocked when people are in the building during the day. This is risky but even more so, at night with reduced staff. You need to give serious consideration to CCTV and Access control.
- Support – as briefly mentioned, you need to have the right support in place in case of any technical issues.