CMI (Matt Scott): Research from alldayPA has revealed that the traditional nine-till-five working day has now moved to start at 8am and run till 8pm. This has been driven by a 41% increase in the amount of time being spent dealing with customers outside of traditional working hours over the last two years.
WHO’S WORKING THE LONGEST – THE BIGGEST INCREASES TO OUT-OF-HOURS CALLS
- Legal firms – up 80%
- E-commerce – up 60%
- IT businesses – up 38%
- SMEs – up 32%
For smaller companies that cannot afford overseas call centres or to employ shift workers, this represents a problem for staff and customers.
Singh said: “For smaller, fast-growing businesses, the eight-till-eight customer culture presents a real risk, both in terms of the well-being of entrepreneurs and bosses, but also a risk to the quality of customer service that is offered.”
Another driver behind the rise of queries outside of traditional office hours is the immediacy of social media and customers taking to the web to air their grievances.
More than half (52%) of customers expect a social media query to be resolved within 30 minutes, but this expectation is only met by 24% of companies.
AlldayPA highlighted clothing retailer Next as the best at handling social media queries, with an average Facebook message response time of 28 minutes – only just within the customer’s limit of acceptability.
As well as dealing with the operational challenges of round-the-clock service, managers also need to consider their responsibilities to employees.
WORKING OUT OF HOURS: LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS
- Rest breaks – employees must be given 11 hours off between shifts, meaning if they finish work at 8pm they shouldn’t be expected back at their desks before 7am the next day
- The 48 hour week – the EU’s working time directive means UK employees cannot work more than 48 hours in a week – unless they opt-out from the initiative
- Night working – employees regularly working more than three hours between midnight and 5am come under special regulations, requiring work to be limited to no more than 8 hours in a 24 hour period, regular health check-ups for all night workers and specific record keeping for the employer.