The new year is the perfect time to set clear boundaries and make communication more efficient at your studio. Experts Kathy Blake and Suzanne Blake Gerety shared their tips.
Increased methods of communication mean you can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
The fear of missing an important message or not answering a question from a dancer can lead to burnout, which is why it’s useful to create a plan for how you will address new student inquiries, dancer participation and general feedback across all platforms.
- Start with published office hours and a standard set of rules for how and when you will respond to messages. Take some time to write scripts for answers to common questions in the same tone you would use by phone or in person. This helps to create consistency for your clients.
- See where you can make use of automation tools. For example, on your studio Facebook page you can edit and customize an “away” message for when you are outside of regular office hours through the Messaging section of your page. Consider having a dedicated “studio news” section of your site with FAQs and important dates. Automated messages should direct people there, in hopes that their questions will be answered. You may also want to include instructions for what customers can do in genuinely urgent situations, like send you a text message. If you are using a smartphone for parent/dancer communication, you can activate the auto-reply function to send a customized message to any incoming text to let your clients know it has been received.
- Try adding a chat feature to your website, which can help you track actions a user is taking and customize page-to-visitor messaging. You can reduce time spent e-mailing back and forth by having someone on your staff monitor inquiries and answer quick questions. You can set the chat hours to times when your staff is available; off hours, you can prompt customers to send their chat as an e-mail.
When you leverage a standardized set of rules along with automated messages, it can help reduce stress and increase the effectiveness of your effort across all channels.
Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.