This article truly hit a core spectrum for me. This past week I made a call to someone who I respect in the business of PR & Communications. I called this person to extend an invitation to be a guest on the national TV shows, #TheView and #TheDrOzShow. When I called the person, she informed me immediately she was on a conference call (Hmmm, If you are on a conference call, why are you picking up the phone???), and she will give me a call back in 12 minutes. Yes, she actually said 12 minutes. I oblige her request with an “Okay, that is fine.” During our brief telephone exchange, there was no room for me to give her a snippet intro of why I was calling. However, at that time, that did not matter, because I was sure she was going to call back in 12 minutes. We were respected business colleagues, right? Needless to say, 12 minutes went by, 15 minutes went by, 20 minutes went by, 30 minutes went by. You get the point. She NEVER called back! Now, I was not surprised, she is not good with follow-up, but I tried to give the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know how she is consulting others about Corporate rules and etiquette, etc., when she does not lead by example. Anyway, my point is, she NEVER returned my phone call. I always say, people make time for want is important to them. Apparently, no matter why I was calling or the news I had to share of an invitation to be on a national platform, she was NEVER going to return my phone call because she has no interest in what I have to say or offer. People are not too busy to respond, they don’t want to respond to you. I would rather she had been honest and state she has no interest to hear what I have to say. I would have respected her for that. But instead, she blows me off. In essence, she missed out on a great opportunity to expand her career! Customer Service is essential and the main fundamental skill in doing business. In the interim, not respond, or return a phone call, you can miss out on an important opportunity.
I was surprised the other day when a caller thanked me for answering the phone. I have done a lot of amazing things in my life which I felt deserved a thank you. I would never have thought answering a telephone was something which belonged on that list.
It seems this woman had spent the better part of an afternoon calling companies, with little success. Each call forced her to navigate through voice mail hell.
After spending several hours, she was frustrated because she was no closer to a solution than when she started. She thanked me because she was grateful to finally connect with a find a human being who could answer her questions.
With automated voice mail routing systems, call forwarding, caller ID, text messages and online chat, it’s easy to avoid answering the telephone. It’s easy, but is it smart to make customers and prospects who want to do business with you work so hard to reach you? Push one, push two, push, push, push.
I know there are productivity experts who are convinced these tools are beneficial. Automating your phone tree allows you to reduce the manpower needed because calls are directed to the right person. Screening your calls allows you to be more productive because you eliminate distractions. But there is a downside to this trend. Somewhere along the line, customer service is sacrificed to preserve your productivity.
How you answer a telephone says an a lot about your company. It creates the critical first impression. A warm, friendly, human greeting sets you apart, convincing the caller you are really glad they called. A crisp and professional greeting will instill confidence that you can solve their problem.
In our office, we answer calls on the first ring, even if it means leaping over a desk or knocking a cat out of the way. One of the first challenges of a new employee is trying to beat our office manager to the phone.
The rapid response sometimes startles, but then delights callers who are not expecting a real person. We don’t have voice mail, except after hours.
Every member of our team is familiar enough with all our projects to greet customers by name, answer basic questions and take messages when the issue is a bit more complex. Does it interrupt team members when they are working on projects? Yes, but if we didn’t there would be no new projects to work on.
You can decide you are too busy to stop and answer your phone. That is your choice. Just remember, there are companies who ready to answer every call with the same cheerful greeting. “Thanks for calling, how can I help you?”