We all get busy, really busy. One of the most common errors I see happen far too often is how, or if, businesses answer their business phone properly. Below are a few points that I feel need to be reviewed by everyone in business.
First, answer the phone LIVE. Far too many businesses either allow a caller to drop into a voice message, keep a client in a prompt system too long or have answering services that don't really understand your business or fail to answer a caller's concerns. In a perfect world we would all have 24/7 live, well trained operators doing the intake on every call. That just isn't a practical solution so here are some ideas on how to best address this concern.
- Always answer the phone live during "business" hours. If you can't, find an alternative solution that will ensure a caller is being handled professionally.
- If a caller's concerns can not be addressed on the spot be sure the caller knows that you will return the call promptly. Give them a specific call back window.
- Try answering the phone in a unique and positive manner, for example, "Good Morning and thank you for calling (your firm), this is (individual's first name), how may I be of help today? It sets the tone for the conversation. Seems obvious but after hearing hundreds of calls I can assure you most business owners would be shocked by how their staff or answering service handles a call.
- Voice Mail - Avoid it at all costs. Think about the caller for a moment. I need a service company, call a firm and the call drops into a voice mail. What is the first thing the caller does? If you said, hang up and call another firm, you are right. Whether it is a website lead, a TV ad lead, or any other lead source the reality is - "if you don't answer your phone, your competitor probably will.
If you have to let calls drop into voice mail then give the client a specific call back time. Make it as short a time frame as possible, but one you can live by.
If caller's reach voice mail then give them a reason to await your return call. For example:
"Thank you for calling (firm name). Unfortunately we are either temporarily unavailable or we are on the other line helping another customer. Please know your call is very important to us. If you would please leave your name, phone number and any message then we will return your call within 30 minutes. We understand you would like to be helped as quickly as possible and please know that we appreciate your business. Please, leave your message at the tone"
Again, this "recording" is the last choice.
In summary, try to answer your business line live at all times. In today's fast paced world consumers want to deal with "top of the mind" issues promptly. We all know that producing leads is an expensive proposition, don't give a potential client any reason not to become "your" customer.