If you want your Business to Grow, You have to Answer your Phone
I feel weird having to say something so obvious. As a business owner or a salesperson, money doesn’t just show up in your account every few weeks. That’s for employees in government offices. We who live in the open market must serve customers before there is to be money in the bank. How is that done? Its simple – not always easy – but definitely simple.
Answer your Phone.
Thats the number one rule in growing your business. The second is marketing. However, it doesn’t matter how many cards you hand out, how many networking events you go to, how much you spend on Google adwords; if you don’t answer your phone, you’re loosing customers and revenue.
If you do budget for advertising and outbound sales people, this is essential. When spending a sizeable chunk of your revenue on activities for new customers, you must answer your phone. If you don’t, these customers will phone someone else and that money is out the door.
An Excuse – I’m really busy. I was still a kid when I got into the habit of excusing myself with “I’m busy” Luckily I had a dad that quickly knocked that out of me. He said the only reason I was saying I’m busy is that I wanted to feel important. Now thats pretty much true of any person. We all want to feel important and we all only have 1440 minutes in each day. The question is, is it a priority to be available to your customers when they need you? Please answer your phone.
I have a friend in Edmonton who is a real estate broker. I’ve known him for most of my life. I used to phone him about real estate questions but he never answered his phone. I always wondered about that until one day I spent the afternoon with him. His phone would ring, he’d look at the caller ID and then put it back in his pocket. I thought it was nice that he wanted to give me his uninterrupted time but hurt that I was in the same pool as those other callers – not important enough to warrant my call be answered. I don’t phone him any more.
One more point about my real estate friend. I don’t send him referrals. If I can’t get a hold of him, how is anyone else suppose to. My referrals go to someone who answers the phone and treats my referrals as important.
The phone business is low margin and as such the wholesalers I deal with are understaffed. They can’t always answer the phone. Two weeks ago, I had a customer that needed a new internet connection. They’re current provider was really dropping the ball and they needed it right away. We have two main providers we deal with for internet. We called them both and left messages with them and then we left email for them. The one provider got back to us the next day. The second provider has yet to respond. Guess who got the business. Answer your phone AND return your calls.
Rules of Answering your Phone.
- Don’t let your calls go to voicemail. If its important enough for someone to call you, show that they’re important and answer the call before it goes to voicemail. If you are busy, answer the call and let the person know your in the middle of things but their important and you’ll call them back. If your consistently too busy to answer calls – you need to hire an assistant. If you don’t have the money for that, we recommend Action Coach training to help prioritize your business goals.
- Return your voicemail at maximum 2 hours. This doesn’t have to be a full response. Just a quick call to say you got their message and you’ll be looking at it later that day. On an exceptionally busy day, at least get back to them with an email saying you got the voicemail. Do it within 2 hours.
- Extend your rings before voicemail and add in some hold music with a marketing message. This is what call centers do and while its inappropriate to let people wait for more that a minute or two, give them the option to leave voicemail or wait for you.
- Get a phone system. For busy people, phone systems help route calls and get the calls someone else can answer, answering the calls. Solutions are available for the small business that may not have office space and work directly from their cell phones. A phone system can help cut down on the volume of calls.
- Use Voicemail-to-email. Voicemail to email sends all your voicemail messages to you as a email with the message attached as an audio file. This makes it easy to access from your smart phone or tablet and easier yet to respond to. If its something your assistant can help with just forward it on as an email. If you need to reply quickly to the caller, hit reply and enter their email address.
People are too important to have them relegated to the equivalent of spam. Treat your customers and callers with importance and they will continue to buy from you and recommend you.
To find out more about how you can better handle your calls but reprogramming your existing phone system or getting a new one, call us. We can help.