After more than 24 hours of driving on the road, 14 hours of shredding Tahoe powder, and the many laughs and new memories with my homeboys, I'm finally back from my bachelor party. It was a long trip and I was a little worried because it was the first time that I was really going to be away from my home computer for a period longer than just one day. Although I was nervous because I usually check my email once an hour (an unhealthy online addiction equivalent to smoking cigarettes, I admit) I knew that since my business was online and passive, it would continue to run and process orders throughout the weekend, 24/7 without me.
Because this chart was so popular in one of my earlier posts, I'm going to show it to you again. This is what an online passive income business model looks like…
Again, where are YOU in this equation? Just in the part that puts money into your account—that's it! This is what allows me to keep my business running while I'm away from my home computer. That being said, I have to be honest with you. This is not a perfect business model.
The One Thing You Can Count On To Make Your Passive Income Business Less Passive
When I was in Tahoe, I actually had a record day of Ebook and Audio Guide sales on my other blog. Again, I don't want to come across as being cocky, but I know the power of numbers and how they can inspire and produce action, so I will show you how I did.
Here is a screenshot from Monday, January 26th, 2009:
Yes, I made over $1100 in one single day, and I wasn't even paying attention. I feel very lucky to be in the position I am, and if you don't already know, the reason I'm showing you exactly how much I make is because I want you to take action and do better than me.
Back to the point. So how can I earn over $1100 in one day and still say that my passive income business model is imperfect? Because of one single thing that is almost inevitable in any online business where information is produced and provided to people: customer's emails.
Customers will always, and I mean ALWAYS find something to email you about. I can honestly say that 95% of the work I actually do on my blog (even though it's just a few hours a week) is answering customer's emails.
I get all types of questions. Some are specific to the material that I've created, while others are as simple as how to print a PDF. All types of questions—all questions answered.
Contact Is Critical
Why allow emails to be sent to me in the first place? Well, I hope this is an obvious answer to you, but if there was no way to get in contact with me, I'd lose the trust of my customers and the ease in the back of their minds that if they do have a question, it will be answered. I don't know if it's illegal to sell something without having contact information, but it might as well be. I'm remembering my most recent post about responsiveness and being nice.
So there needs to be a way to get in contact with me. How about through a phone line? Uhh, no way dude. As much as I like speaking on the phone and interacting with people, handling customer service via phone is just not something you should do if you're trying to earn a passive income be a good online business man or woman.
“You can't control when someone will call you, but you can control when you read your emails and what you'll say in them before you click send.”
Again, this is very Tim Ferriss [This link leads to Amazon. Full disclosure: I earn a commission if you buy from this link.] of me to say, but you'd probably be more happy checking your emails once or twice a day, and your customer's would be more happy to get good answers from you within a day.
The Solution You Already Know About
Even though I earned over $1100 in a single day while I was in Tahoe, that same day I had 10 customer service emails from old, new and potential customers. I know this because I used the computer in the lobby of the resort to see how my sales were doing. I ended up spending a half hour answering all 10 emails. Yeah, it's only a half hour, but those 30 minutes add up over a lifetime.
So what should be done? How can we reduce the amount of emails we get, since we know we're going to get them anyways?
Create an FAQ
Having a list of Frequently Asked Questions is a way to answer those emails that would be sent to you before they even happen. I would say that 85% of the questions I get in emails are exactly the same as emails I've previously answered. I could have a template of answers that I could just cut and paste, but it's much easier to show them something that could answer their questions before they get to you. This is good for both you AND for your customers because they don't have to wait for your answers anymore.
This is something that I MUST do and will do very soon. Since I get questions from both potential customers and customers who have purchased my material already, I will have two sets of FAQs. The first will be shown on the sales page (or given as a link on the sales page) to answer questions like: “How will your material be delivered to me and how soon will I get them?” The second will be included in the package they receive as a PDF file they can open. If I ever get an email from someone asking one of those questions that's already answered in the FAQ—all I have to say is: “Thanks for your email. Please refer to the FAQ located (here).” Done.
If I wanted to be even more passive, I could set up an autoresponder on my email address that says: “Thanks for your email. I receive more than X number of emails a day. I would appreciate it if you first checked the FAQ located (here) which may already answer your question(s). If you still have a question, please respond and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks for being cool.”
Many major companies have a similar kind of system to answer questions. This saves them time, money and work hours, and this is exactly what it will do for you too.
If you find yourself answering many emails that are very similar to each other, think about creating an FAQ to help yourself and the people emailing you.
Do you have any other tips to save time with regards to customer service? Any tips or comments would be greatly appreciated.
P.S. 500 plus readers! Unbelievable. Welcome all of you and thank you for your support!