First of all I want to point out this blog post wasn’t planned as I am right in the middle of a 2 week vacation. We have hired a boat and are currently cruising the Norfolk Broads. Here’s a picture of our boat, The Fair President.
It’s huge and has taken some getting used to, I feel like I’m cruising on the Titanic, and we all know what happened to that don’t we? 🙂
Usually when I go on vacation I break all ties from my business, as for me a vacation means being away from my computer and not checking emails on a daily basis, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 5-6 days.
However, this got me thinking, even though I am away from my business it is still making me money and running like clockwork because I have learned to automate my business, allow me to explain.
First of all let’s look at support.
If you are like me you will want to reply to customer support tickets within 24 hours. I take great pride in my support, however it does not take up much of my time as my support is taken care of, as it is ran by Paula who manages my support desk. This means I don’t have to worry about my customers getting the support they need, I also wont return to tons of angry emails from people wondering where I’ve been for the last few weeks.
Let me tell you that this should be the very first thing you outsource as you begin to become successful. The last thing you should be doing on a daily basis is answering questions from customers. Obviously when you first start out this is something you will probably do yourself, but once you begin to spend over an hour per day dealing with support it’s time to outsource this task so you can free up your time building your business.
So where do you look?
I found Paula who runs my support desk via one of my forums, Paula was very active in the forum and she was always looking to help others so it was a natural progression, so maybe if you run a forum you can look there. Another place to look could be a Facebook group or your Facebook friends list, or possibly even a personal friend. Failing that it’s possible you have a very active customer who may be willing to help.
One thing I recommend you make sure you do is not outsource this to a stranger or an outsourcing company. To be truly free of support you need to give your staff personal information such as passwords, sensitive login information, FTP details, etc. This is something I simply wouldn’t be comfortable doing to someone I don’t really know.
Once you find someone it’s just a case of setting up a helpdesk so you can both look at tickets that come in. Your staff would simply flag any tickets they are unsure of and leave them to you. Once you answer them they could look at your answer and the next time a similar ticket comes in there would be no need for you to deal with it. Over time they would end up flagging less tickets as they learn more about your business.
Just in case you are wondering what helpdesk software I use it’s called Kayako. It’s a little pricey and if you’re just starting out there is free helpdesk software out there, just search Google.
So now you have taken care of support, what next?
Obviously if you are planning a vacation you still may want to plan ahead and set up some promotions, you may have noticed I have promoted a couple of products so far whilst I have been on vacation. I also have another promotion scheduled for the next couple of days. This is all possible because I have already set the dates for all of my emails before my vacation started and plugged them into aweber. This is a great feature aweber provides that enables you to plan ahead. In fact I could have scheduled this blog post if I wanted to as WordPress has a schedule feature, I could have then set the email promoting it to go out just after it went live. However I assure you that this post has been written while I am on vacation.
Finally, if you want to be sure people know you are unavailable set an ‘out of office’ response so people who email you will receive an instant response letting them know you are away, most email accounts have this feature. One tip I can offer here is to let people know when you will return and tell them if they need a response from you to resend their email after you return. This means you can come home and start with a clean inbox as everyone knows they need to resend their email to get in touch with you.
So there you go, while I am on vacation my business is running itself, so I can enjoy a beer or three at lovely locations like this.
As always your comments are welcome, although it may take me a while to respond as after all, I am on vacation 🙂