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WELCOME TO THE 24-HOUR ECONOMY

24-hour opening times are a common sight in metropolitans like Tokyo and New York. Grocery shopping, drinking coffee with friends, and running errands are not limited to daylight. This 'always open' economy is not a reality everywhere in the world, with the exception of some industries, but is however gaining in popularity.

Exhibitions and events are usually build up in the evening and at night, mere hours before opening. Stores no longer need to close their doors to prepare the shop for upcoming campaigns; it all happens after closing and before opening.

Because of these developments in the retail and event world, Van Straaten finds itself in the middle of the new 24-hour economy. Both sectors are eminently businesses which take place outside of regular working hours, especially behind the scenes. An exhibition that is set up at night is ready for the first visitors the next morning. The same rings true for retail, where the audience will not notice construction of a new campaign or installing of new banners. It all happens during the in-between hours.

Not only that: everything must look perfect. Visual communication is more important and effective than ever before. A mistake, however small, cannot be afforded, with photos and videos at everyone’s fingertips. Think of canvases in the wrong colour, or prints that do not properly fit the provided frames. This mistakes are often only discovered a day or only hours before opening, when the retailers and stand builders are in full preparation. This is why 24-hour availability for us as a supplier is a logical step. That is why we now offer a 24-hour emergency service, so that we are always on standby to help you to resolve any pressing and time restricted issue.

Initiating such a 24-hour operating service sounds simpler than it in fact is. How do you ensure that the quality at night has the same quality as during the day and how do you involve your staff? The following four tips are essential to keep both your customer and employees informed and happy:

1. CLARIFY HOW CUSTOMERS CAN REACH YOU

Think about how your customers can reach you best and communicate this clearly through your website. In our case this is by 24/7 phone, but if it is a simple question,  an email address or Twitter account may be enough.

2. MAKE SURE THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY HELP

Being reachable is not a full solution. If we pick up the phone overnight but cannot deliver new banners within a few hours, it is not even half done. Take a good look at the logistics and how many employees are needed, so that a customer can really receive the best possible help. Also make sure that your customers know exactly what support and service your provide outside the normal office hours.

3. CREATE A GOOD PLANNING

Without the full commitment of your employees a proper service cannot be guaranteed. Involve them from the start and create a thorough plan together. We alternate night shifts, but perhaps some people prefer working only at night. This service is an opportunity to give them the option when they want to work.  Ultimately, what matters is that everything is clear to the whole team.

4. ASK FOR FEEDBACK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

A 24-hour service is only needful  if your customers require it. Customer’s needs change over time and keeping an open conversation ensures that your service always matches their demands. Regularly ask your customers for feedback so that your service adds real value and continues to develop.

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Niels van Straaten

NIELS VAN STRAATEN

DIRECTOR, VAN STRAATEN LET'S IMPRESS

"Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful."

Joshua J. Marine