GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Answer your darn phone!

Growing your businessby Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

I know you’re busy, out there in the job. Working as hard as you can to please your customers, and grow your business. But there is still one thing you need to do to make sure that your business always looks professional. One thing, that if you do better than anyone else, will set you apart in a big, way, a very big way, and that is the way you handle phone calls, yes, the way you answer your phone.

There is nothing more aggravating to a customer — or potential customer — than not having anyone on the other end of the line when they are trying to reach you. Whether it’s a current customer who wants to talk to you about a job; or worse, has a complaint that he wants to talk to you about, she wants to talk to you now! Or maybe it’s a new potential customer who wants to ask you about your services and rates, now that’s a phone call you really want to answer if you are serious about growing your business. There is no doubt that answering the phone in a timely fashion is one of the most important things you can do for your business and for your customers.

If you think about it for a minute you will come to realize that in the case of a new potential customer, for example, the way you “do phone” will be the first impression that person has of you, your company and the way you do business. So, you’d better be good at it.

Personalize the situation, it has happened to all of us. Many of us have called a plumber because the toilet is overflowing, or an electrician because yours is the only house on the street whose power is off. You really want to talk to someone now! Or your porch roof looks like it is about to collapse under the weight of the 40 inches of wet snow that fell last night, you want someone to answer that phone, now. But instead you wait by the phone for hours feeling helpless as the situation seems to get worse by the minute! And the longer you wait the more resentful you get. If you’re the person not calling them back… don’t count on growing your business.

We all get it. The way you answer your phone, the way you deal with phone calls is critical to the way you keep your customers happy and grow your business.

So, keeping that in mind, here a few tips on how to deal with phone calls:

  • If your company is small, and you have no one at the office, or the house who can answer the phone, then carry a cell phone and answer it wherever you are. Take the time to answer it to at least find out what the caller wants and let her know when you can get to her place to fix the problem, if it is an emergency. If it’s not an emergency then tell him when you will call him back, preferably that evening.
  • Another idea is to have two phone numbers; one for normal business and one for emergencies and get your customers to use the emergency number only when there is an emergency. Oh, I can hear you groan that some people will always use the emergency number, and yes, you’re right. But for the rest of the customers. It will be an impressive option and show how much you care about customer service, and they will indeed honor your system.
  • Put all of your current customers’ numbers in your phone so that you will see who is calling when they are calling which will allow you to instantly triage the calls thus giving you some idea of who is calling and more easily make a decision about calling them back.
  • If you are lucky enough to have an office with a person manning the phones then always make sure that person is courteous and is well trained enough to know when the call is important enough to notify you to call the customer immediately, or when there is time so that you can call when you have some free time later in the day. This person should also have your calendar so that he or she can make appointments for you.
  • And finally, the voice mail. That necessary evil of all businesses. Make sure your message is clear, concise and, of course, courteous and maybe add a clever little statement that will make the caller smile a bit when leaving the message. And always, always let the caller know exactly how long it will take for you to call her back

In the end, it’s all about looking and feeling professional to your customers. The way you answer your phone and the way you return phone calls will go a long way when you are truly serious about growing your business.


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