How Does Your Company Sound?

August 20, 2009
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Every day American Business is receiving a silent kiss of death without even realizing it. Companies around the country are delivering a message to potential clients that says, “We don’t care enough about you to upgrade the way we handle you over the telephone.”

Your telephone, the way it is answered and the support systems attached to it are either costing you, or making you, tons of money.

Remember that in order to build the most outstanding service experience possible, you must manage how people feel. In order to manage how they feel about you and your company, you must pay attention to everything that they hear.

If you are a solo operator, you must think about hiring an assistant to handle the telephone for you. Even if you give great phone, you are already wearing too many hats to be worried about answering every single call that comes in.

On top of which, how do you know if the caller is a paying customer or someone who will try to “steal” some of your time?

And if you don’t answer the telephone and the caller gets your tired-out voice mail (I will get to voice mail in a moment), if it is a paying customer, how does it add value to your service if it takes you three days to make contact?

Is it really effective time management to spend a lot of time trading voice mails? Plus, how many clients are you losing?

As a solo operator, if you hire someone full time who costs you $2,000 per month, and your cost of doing business is 25 percent, you could pay for that person with about $2,700 in new business. At a $200-a-job average, that would be 3.13 jobs per week.

Don’t you think that having someone that would answer your telephone live, enter your job tickets and your bills, do your filing, make your customer follow up calls, send out your thank you letters and client mailers, run errands, and order supplies would allow you to find three measly jobs a week?

You may gain the three calls just by capturing the call live. Plus, I have learned from experience that the sooner you get the jobs on the book, the sooner you have your money and the sooner your referrals come in.

Don’t just put it off on the spouse because you are “too busy” or feel unqualified to hire someone. Your spouse may or may not be the right person; there may be little ones to look after (shouldn’t be doing that while answering a business phone), or they just may not want to do it. If he or she does happen to be the best thing since sliced bread, then by all means hire them! And pay them a salary, just as you would anyone else.

If your significant other is not the answer, office help is usually easier to find than labor, and many times is more dependable.

The person you get should have a strong, clear, enthusiastic voice. This person needs to be very consistent. Saying the same thing the same way over and over can get monotonous, so this person has to love giving good phone.

Once you have someone in place, you will want to decide what else this person should do. A receptionist can do many other things in between calls, depending on the call volume. Data entry and labeling mailers would be good examples.

An added benefit of having great telephone procedures in place is that you gain points before the work is actually done. If something should go wrong on the job, the confidence you have built with the client over the phone will help you. To take your business to the next level, take care of your telephone and handle it well.

Support Systems

Voice Mail. Have all of your voice mail boxes professionally recorded with music. A more professional message assigns a higher value to your company. You may want to have a catch phrase, such as your USP or Mission Statement, on your voice mail.

Whatever you do…puuuuuullllleeeeassse get rid of the tired, overused, never effective, “Thank you for calling…we are not in (no duh), please leave a message at the tone (duh), and we will call you back at our earliest convenience (yeah right).”

Don’t you think you could use those precious seconds just a little more creatively?

On-Hold Message. What a perfect time to “groom” a prospect. Have your marketing message on your on-hold message. A professional presentation will be well received by your prospects and clients.

Be careful using the radio – your competition may advertise on that station – or worse, your customer may hate the music that you like. And by all means get rid of the dead air; the worst thing you can do is have people holding that aren’t sure whether they are still connected or not.

Auto Attendant. An auto attendant is a voice mail system that automatically answers for you. If you decide you need something like this, make absolutely sure you give people an option to speak to a live person early in the message.

One of the most tragic occurrences in customer service is the misuse of auto attendants. Big corporations that are putting their stock price before their customers are going to wake up without customers one of these days.

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