Why Having an Open Door Policy is Hurting Your Business
Did you know that the typical office worker is interrupted 40 to 50 times per day, with an average 3 minute span between interruptions? (Source). Now, imagine when your business is at home - kids are running around, your phone is buzzing, the computer is up and running, the laundry is calling to be done…. the distractions are running rampant! So how do you ever get anything done? I’m going to cover tnhat - but first lets dig in a bit. Why EXACTLY is an open door policy detrimental to your business?
It sets your customers and team up for failure.
Many business owners get their business off the ground through the “hustle” mentality, ie: the more I do and the faster I do it, the better off I am. You answer every call immediately, you respond to emails the second they come in, you drop everything to deliver a product to your customer because isn’t that great customer service?
No one can be ON 24/7 - at least not forever. So what happens when you run out of juice, or you have to start considering that your life is about more than just working? Your team starts to wonder why you “don’t care as much” as you used to. Your customers are frustrated that you’re no longer willing to deliver products at the drop of a hat, and it’s confusing to everyone. You start off with the perception of dedication and love for your business and when your speed changes, that perception becomes resentment, annoyance, and disappointment.
The thing to remember is that you can be dedicated and love your business without living it every hours of every day. When you coach your customers and team to expect a reasonable timeframe for you to get back to them, or teach your team to utilize resources like a unit website or unit facebook group to answer their questions before asking you, you’re setting them up for long term appreciation, success, and to always feel cared for- even when you can’t get up from family dinner and leave the house to drop off their mascara because they need it right NOW.
Nothing gets done… and certainly not done well.
When you only have 3 minutes to work between answer calls, delivering products, emailing training materials, folding laundry, and helping your husband find his shoes because for some reason he needs your support in that task it’s understandably hard to get things done.
And when you set the expectation to your team and customers that you are ON 24/7 you feel like you have to answer immediately, and stop what you are doing, to avoid sending the message that suddenly you don’t care or aren’t as attentive as you usually are. Your brain is trained to multi task in a way that is not realistically possible… or sustainable. The result? Nothing gets done.
Open doors are intimidating, to be honest.
Most people never actually step through an open door- they are afraid to ask a dumb question or afraid to interrupt you. But if you schedule time to ask for interaction, or set office hours during which your team knows they won’t be interrupting you then you aren’t just passively opening a door- you’re reaching through and welcoming people in.
Avoid shutting people out by helping them understand when is a good time to connect with you!
Here are a few tips on how you can strategically open the door to give you customers and team the best experience:
Turn off your phone notifications - The only notifications I have ON on my phone are calls, texts, FaceTime calls, calendar, reminders, apple maps, and southwest airlines. That’s it! This empowers me to work when I need to, and check in on social media, email, etc during appropriate times. I get more done, feel less stressed, and when I do interact with my clients (and family!) they get the BEST version of me.
Set business hours - When you set business hours it gives your customers and team freedom. Why? Because they know when to reach out and when to expect a response and they don’t need to spend a single ounce of energy worry about if they’re bugging you, if you’re going to respond, etc. They have all of the answers they need and so do you!
Create a space where it’s easy to connect - let your customer know not just when you connect with you but also how - where are you most comfortable responding? Is it a Facebook group, email, text, voxer? Decide you primary method of communication and communicate to your team and customer that this is the way they’ll get the fastest response!
Set an auto responder - if email is your thang, then use an auto-responder to help communicate your business hours and when you customers and team can expect a response. This is also a great place to share how to order - I personally like to link to my Digital Business business card in my auto responder because it empowers my customer to shop, book appointments, RSVP, and more all in one place.
Set clear expectations from day one - It’s easy to be ON 24/7 when you first start your business, but this is also the easiest time to communication clear expectation and, yes, boundaries.
Give yourself a schedule - While this schedule might not be customer or team facing, choose when you’re going to be “ON” for social media. Check messages every hour, but not every minute. Respond to emails within 24 hours, and use a plugin like Boomerang for gmail to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Utilities automatic do not disturb - Help yourself concentrate and be productive by using do not disturb during the day, and help make family time sacred by turning on automatic do not disturb during off-hours. For example, DND turns on at 8pm and turns off at 8 am every day for me. During the day, when I know I will get more done if I focus, I turn it on manually.