Let’s say you need a service. It might be a plumber, electrician, an accountant or a builder. Whatever it is, you don’t have long to get it sorted and so you decide to call. Email means waiting for a reply. You don’t have the time for that. You want to get this sorted and move on to the other things on your to do list.
When You Make The Phone Call to a Business, What Do You Expect to Hear?
A Recorded Message
The Owner’s Voice
A Distracted Voice
A Friendly Receptionist
Firstly, you want a real person not a machine, right? Nearly everyone will hang up on hearing the sound of a voicemail message. You want to get through to a real person not an automated message. No one wants to leave a voicemail after the beep. It’s always a frustrating experience isn’t it? What do you say to briefly explain your needs? If you leave your number you don’t know when or if they will ring you back. You don’t want to have to read out your email address. Trying to spell it out phonetically, unsure if they’ll take it down right.
Do you question things further? Is there something wrong? Why isn’t the phone being answered? It’s a reasonable hour after all. Is this company still in business? Are they so busy they don’t want my business? Fine, I can go elsewhere, to someone who does. OK so let’s rule out Option A. For good. No more machines please. After you have secured my business I don’t want to ring next time and get a machine again. I might explode!
So how about Option B? Do you expect to hear the owner’s voice? It isn’t so bad right? At least it’s a real person! If it’s a builder what would you think if they said ‘I’m on the roof right now, can I ring you back shortly?’ You might be happy to speak to the expert himself, but not when he’s on the job. No, that is no good. You start to question whether he’ll be available to do your job. It’s easier just to ring another builder isn’t it? Then you can see whether you need to answer his call back or not.
Option C is at least human. That’s a start. But why are they distracted? Where’s the customer service I was expecting? What a visual this is creating in my mind. This person is fed up. Cranky. They’re making me feel like my simple bathroom job is akin to scaling Mount Everest. I’m not asking for the world. Why aren’t they being nicer to me? Or a little less curt at least. Not great for customer service, I’ll definitely be getting other quotes.
And, finally, we come to Option D. A real person, yes! Someone available to talk to me about my needs right now, yes! Someone ready and able to listen, yes! And they are friendly and helpful too, yes, yes, yes! Wait I haven’t even heard their prices yet, why am I so excited? Because I know they will be easy to deal with. They can get the job done. I now have a name. I can talk to Gemma again if I need to. She’ll answer my questions or pass them on and get them answered as soon as she can. That is what I was expecting. It is also what I wanted.
Here’s my list for the value of a professional voice at the end of the phone for customers:
- A professional first impression.
- A real person to explain their needs to.
- A point of contact always on hand.
- An easy process without frustrations.
What About the Value of These Phone Calls to the People Behind the Business?
The phone call. It came to you. You probably paid for marketing to get that call, there’s time you spend on those calls, so there’s got to be a dollar figure attached to the call and your time on the call. You need to maximize that call to its highest potential, and if you cannot do that 100%, day in, day out, you’re losing money. Everything in a business is monetized, it has to be, there’s a value to each call. If you’re going to make money you need to effectively handle that call and the one after and the one after that.
Roland, one of our Business Managers, has been involved with small businesses & trades throughout his career. His most common observation is how passionate business owners are but also flat out busy. The thing is, when business is good, it’s really good and business owners sometimes think they afford to miss the odd phone calls, even if they might be new opportunities! But those missed calls are money, new jobs and more work. Business owners would also tell him that when work dried up, and it always does, they wish they’d taken even half of those calls. If you want to grow your business make sure that someone answers every call, especially during the good times!
It gives business owners greater freedom. The freedom to do other things. For example, looking after loved ones. Picking up the kids from school or going to dinner with your other half. It gives you the freedom to be with your kids or your partner, without having to worry about your phone going off. Or without constantly wondering what’s happening with your business as you’ve left it on voicemail.
In this way you can manage your time a lot more effectively and be focused on exactly what you need to be focused on; the core workings of your business. Or it can give you the freedom that, “Okay, I need some personal time out, but my clients have not been compromised because I’m not going to be available to take those calls.” You can be available to them any time of the day. Why shouldn’t you be able to have your cake and eat it? Running a business doesn’t have to take over your whole life at the expense of family and friends.
So, what are the options? You can foot the bill and hire your own receptionist. Get into higher costs and risk losing out or working more when they call in sick. Or you can let a virtual receptionist do the hard work for you. Let them deal with the calls and be there no matter what, no sick days. Use experienced staff who can help as and when you need them. It’s a no brainer really isn’t it?