As I write this, it is bright, sunny, warm and humid outside on a Saturday afternoon. The reason it is humid is the severe thunderstorms that were rumbling through our area at 8 am.
But this is not about the weather, it is about information and accessibility.
Today our city was scheduled to have the parade to kick off the 41st Three Rivers Festival. Start time was 10:15. The big question that needed an answer, Is the parade ON/OFF/DELAYED?
We typically have 100,000+ attend this event each year, including my wife.
Not long ago, we could tune into the radio 24/7 for updates on local news worthy events, then deregulation allowed stations to automate and not have live people in the building 24/7. (Since I work it that business, I also knew what my stations were doing on Saturday morning and the local news station, and there was no word.)
Next I tuned to the local TV Stations and got some weather info, but no word on this major event. I was really hoping the station that broadcasts the parade would have information, but all they had was kids shows.
So next I went online. To Twitter. Here there were others asking the same question, including one of the TV news anchors, who was SPECULATING that it would be canceled. When you are a person of that standing, you should not speculate on twitter about items like this that effect so many people plans.
Soon, however, a local blogger that I trust, posted on his blog and on Twitter that the parade was on, so I phoned my wife and gave her the good news.
What disturbs me is that all the local TV Stations have Twitter accounts as does the Three Rivers Festival, yet no one could answer a question about the parade.
Yes, it was the weekend, but no, that is not acceptable in this age of 24/7 information.
Now, let me relate this to your business. A few weeks ago after my wife came home, as the garage door was closing, we heard a snap. Turns out it is 8pm, both of our cars are trapped in the garage and we have to go to work in less than 12 hours. One garage door service company that I called had an after hours message when I called them. Then I remembered the company I called a few years ago when we lived in a different house.
I called them, they were at our house in 40 minutes, and 2 hours later, everything was taken care of. Today I mailed them a check and a thank you.
What happens when one of your customers has a question or problem after regular hours? Do they get an answer? Or do they get an automated message telling them to call back on Monday?
I urge you to step into the 24/7 world.
Forward all calls after hours to someone who can and will help. Depending on your business, you may never get a call after hours. But if you do, and you can help them, that's one less lost customer and one customer that you have earned and your competitor will never see.