Imagine it is 7 pm on the East Coast. You are just sitting down to dinner after a long day when you get a call from your client in California asking to jump on an online meeting with your team. Do you pick up the call, politely decline or follow up with an email?
There is no right or wrong answer in this situation. Each client will come with different needs and will therefore have to be handled uniquely. Unfortunately, since we are living in an ultra-connected era of instant communication, we often forget about basic etiquette when it comes to setting up impromptu meetings. Just because a business partner has the ability to engage in online meetings at any point over his or her cell phone Bringing Your Business On-the-Go doesn’t mean it is always polite to ask that individual to do it. It is important to remember that this is a privilege that should not be abused so that when key players are needed, they will be available. The last thing you want to do is have people start to screen your calls.
Some organizations, however, are taking a different approach to customer service. In the Philippines, for instance call center agents operate under a Western time zone and celebrate American holidays so that they can work during hours when contacts who are on a different schedule can access them. While this is an extreme case, it shows that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to customer service.
The most important thing you can do is to remain consistent with your availability. Establish appropriate call times with clients and co-workers in different time zones early on so that there are ground rules in place for calling and meeting hours. That way, when someone has to make a call after hours, it will not be a recurring instance and the recipient will know that it is important. Otherwise, email communication should suffice.
How late are you willing to join a meeting with a client? And how do you set expectations accordingly? Please let us know in the comments section below!