Let’s Hear It for Face Time!
Are you drowning in e-mail? I think many of us feel that we’re barely able to keep up with our inbox (which makes me particularly grateful that you’re taking time to read this blog). It’s tempting to spend much of the day dealing with these messages as well as looking at products online and composing social media messages and e-mail blasts.
I’m a big fan of FaceTime, a free Apple app that allows me to visit with friends and family spread out over the continent, but I know that there is no substitute for the kind of face time that involves listening, sharing stories and actually handling products. It’s hard to serve customers well when you are focused on a computer, or even an iPad. When a shopper has chosen an in-person shopping experience instead of going online, it’s important that we honor that choice by giving them personal service. How many minutes of your work day are spent in real interactions with shoppers and staff vs. virtual encounters?
A similar question can be asked about how much time you spend working with sales reps (and going to trade shows) instead of just looking at merchandise on a web site. There is no substitute for the human interaction and quality service that comes from real face time.
You might try to limit online time to an hour in the morning before the store opens, and another half hour sometime later in the day. And be sure to make good use of the folder option offered by most email programs. You can file away messages that you want to refer back to later, so you won’t need to keep them in your inbox to make sure they don’t get lost. We also keep a file folder for emails from customers after their concerns have been dealt with, which means we have a paper trail of past issues.
Don’t forget to make use of the Unsubscribe button that is required by the Can-Spam Act (someone with a sense of humor must have named that!). Why receive more email than necessary? By the way, if you don’t offer this option in your email blasts, be sure to add it. After all, you don’t want to alienate customers who no longer want to see your store name pop up in their very full inbox but who may still enjoy shopping at your store in person.