It can be pretty tough running an online business - there are so many ways to stay in touch and it quickly becomes overwhelming. I've needed to rethink how I run things, and I figured it'd be a good idea to run through again the best ways to stay in touch to help folks avoid disappointment and frustration.
Social Media platforms
I'm active on Twitter, Instagram and by proxy, Facebook (I don't have a personal account). That's only 3 platforms, and it's already too much for one person to cope with!
To make things manageable, I won't answer customer support on any of these platforms - it'd be impossible to keep up and help everyone if I tried. I won't answer emails or private messages through these platforms, either. If you need help with a pattern or anything Hatterly, the Ravelry forum is the absolute best place to go. There is so much knowledge and information there that you probably won't need to post to find the answer you're looking for.
If you really need to email, then please use the contact form on my website. That points you towards some very helpful links and gives you an idea of what to expect when you get in touch. Unfortunately the new Instagram business account requires a method of direct contact, and this is causing me to consider changing my account back to a personal one, as I can't turn off the email function.
When I held the #bethechange promotion the other week, I had nearly 13,500 emails within a 24 hour period. That's not a normal thing, but it hints at how daftly busy inboxes can get. (it also showed just how quickly boundaries are ignored and any means possible are used to get in touch - I had to ignore the hundreds of messages that came through all the channels I ask folk not to use - which I'm sure was just as frustrating for them as it was for me)
If your question can be answered on the Ravelry forums, by the many tutorials on this website or even a quick Google search, then it will save us both time and energy. I'd hate for your email to languish in my inbox whilst I try and keep on top of things when there could have been a quicker way for you to access what you need. Similarly, a busy inbox sends me into meltdown - I am one person and can only handle so much.
With this rotten frozen shoulder I've had to limit time I spend at the computer, and have had to outsource many tasks (which is good, it gives me a break and time to recover, but it doesn't come free). With this in mind, ALL pattern support is now managed on the Ravelry forum. Doing it this way allows me to pop in everyday and help lots of people at once in a manageable and pain-free way. Community based knowledge is a brilliant thing.
Don't even go there; I don't answer the phone to anyone.
Firstly, I hate the phone. It's intrusive and when you can't/don't answer a call, the caller can often get impatient and demanding... who needs that kind of stress? A phone call interrupts my work flow and focus, and time is pretty precious. I travel frequently and if I'm abroad answering your call costs me a small fortune (likewise with texts). Phone anxiety or phobia is real, and I shouldn't have to justify why I don't and won't use it.
Viber & Whatsapp
These are preserved for friends and family, and are the best way for personal messages to come through. Way better than text and email, for sure. They are both light on data, making it super easy when I'm travelling (photos and videos wait until I'm safely in a free wifi zone; voice mail doesn't exist in my world - see paragraph above).
As communication grows, especially online, no-one can be expected to be in the places all the time. That's ridiculous, and anyone who tries will quickly lead themselves to melting point. We each need to set our bondaries offline and online, in business or with personal, and it's up to us how we do that. Enforcing these boundaries is often a difficult path, as it isn't always respected and online comms has bred an expectant culture, where it's believed that everyone is contactable all of the time.
It's important to remember that behind each screen is another human being, with their own life and challenges, and that they cannot be there for you all the time. Setting boundaries is in everyone's best interest - you know the best ways and times to contact, and what to expect, and the person at the other end can get a little peace and time to sleep (because yes, time zones are a thing that's so easily forgotten in this instaworld)
At risk of sounding like a moany blog post, I want to thank and hug everyone who helps me by helping on the forums and by understanding that I can't be all the things!