Eighty-nine percent of Americans report that work-life balance is a problem, with 54 percent of those calling it a significant problem.1 For business leaders, the data doesn’t get any better. Over half of small business leaders work more than 50 hours a week, and 20 percent indicate they work more than 60 hours a week.2
What some small business leaders may have originally pined as “living the dream” may no longer be their perception. Indeed, only 24 percent of business leaders claim they have never experienced larger psychological issues as a result of work-related stress. When asked why their work-life balance is off-kilter, the most often-cited reason is that some tasks they cannot delegate or felt they could not outsource the work.3
The Art of Delegation
Delegating responsibilities and outsourcing are two different functions. When it comes to delegating tasks, 65 percent of business leaders indicate they are good or very good at delegation.4 This seems to contradict the fact that they cite the inability to delegate as their number one work-life balance challenge. Digging underneath the hood provides clarification—specifically why they don’t delegate. The following are the top reasons why business leaders fail to delegate:
- 30 percent indicate they are more capable than their employees
- 20 percent note their employees don’t have the right skill sets
- 20 percent are in a hurry to get it done
- 19 percent enjoy the task and don’t want to give it to someone else
The first three can be solved with better hiring practices, time management, and employment empowerment. In the case of the final reason, job fulfillment may trump the need/desire to delegate the task.
The rise of freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, Toptal, Work Market, among many others makes it easy and faster to search for, select, and manage freelance workers for one-off projects. They also provide freelance workers at significant lower cost than via agencies or other third-party providers.
But not all outsourced work is the same. There are some areas where the expertise of a third-party supplier is needed. Interactions a business has with its prospects and customers are its lifeblood. For prospects, first impressions are crucial. In his award-winning book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell finds that first impressions—whether personal or professional—happen in a matter of seconds. Individuals connect with other people and companies based on their initial perceptions. Getting beyond a bad initial impression is virtually impossible. (Check out our blog post, “Making First Impressions Count: 9 Factors for Consideration,” for more details on this subject.)
For customers, ongoing positive experience translates not only into higher satisfaction and loyalty but willingness to advocate on behalf of the company and solution in question. But the flip side is also true. The proliferation of technology makes it increasingly easy for customers to leave and go to competitors, as well as become digital detractors via their social networks, third-party review sites, among other digital channels. How a business manages its digital and human interactions with its customers is thus critical.
The entry point for live inbound and outbound answering services such as Davinci Live Receptionists has never been lower than today. No longer tethered to a full-time receptionist but rather relying on a team of customer service representatives, small businesses can have highly knowledgeable professionals handle inbound-and-outbound communications with prospects and customers as well as various other marketing and customer service functions. And with teams of customer service representatives dedicated to 10 to 15 customers, Davinci Live Receptionists can scale up and down to accommodate changes in business.
But the need to make the key moments of impact with prospects and customers count extends beyond voice interactions. A growing demand for digital engagement options—from prospects such as live web chat ratchets up the work-life pressures placed upon business leaders even further. Davinci Live Web Chat gives business leaders the ability to offer prospects and customers live digital engagement without the cost and maintenance of the technology as well as responsibility for the ongoing staffing and management of the solution.
Suddenly, with the one-two punch of Live Receptionists and Live Web Chat, business leaders can see an equilibrium return to the work-life teeter totter. They can focus on evolving the business and forming strategic business relationships with customers rather than managing tactical execution of customer service and sales support.
DIY Customer Service
Seventy-five percent of consumers like using do-it-yourself (DIY) customer options, with 65 percent preferring it over email and phone engagement channels. B2B customer support is comparable; Gartner predicts today’s 55 percent of DIY customer service interactions will rise to two-thirds by 2017.5 DIY is also just as important for prospects: almost half of consumers indicate they will abandon an online purchase if they cannot find answers to their questions.6
All of this means that companies need to provide customers with FAQs and knowledgebases on their websites and customer communities so that they can answer their questions themselves. And since they are answering their own questions instead of calling, emailing, or submitting them via live chat small business leaders are able to reallocate the time spent doing so to other tasks—and to work on improving their work-life balance.
Bringing Balance to the “Work-Life Force”
There are certainly other ways to create a better work-life balance such as transitioning from a fixed-office location to a virtual model or instituting a work-from-home policy.7 Using virtual office space via services such as Davinci Virtual Office Solutions enables small businesses to reduce cost, improve productivity, increase retention rates, as well as revitalize work-life balance.
Business leaders who feel there is a “disturbance” in the work-life force need to take a step back and look their options: learn the art of delegation, be intelligent in outsourcing tasks and functions, and give prospects and customers DIY choices.
1Kathy Gurchiek, “Survey: Work/Life Balance Off-Kilter in U.S.,” Society for Human Resource Management, September 15, 2010.
2 “New Survey Shows Work-Life Balance Is Possible, But Not Likely for Entrepreneurs,” The Alternative Board, November 8, 2013.
5 Brian Manusama, “Why You Need to Rethink Your Customer Self-Service Strategy,” Gartner, March 17, 2015.
6 “Customers Want to Help Themselves?” Zendesk, accessed January 27, 2016.
7 Nicolas Bloom, “To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home,” Harvard Business Review (January-February 2014).