When you make the plunge and start your own business, it's pretty standard to have a dedicated phone line to answer customers. A phone call may be your first impression with potential new business, so starting out on the wrong foot over the phone can be very bad. When a customer calls your business, they want to know that someone is going to answer them, right away. We live in such a high tech world, that everyone is accustomed to instant gratification, and if you don’t give it, someone else will.
Your customers are not looking to leave a voicemail message and receive a call back, even if it’s done quickly. They’re looking for someone to talk to. If you’re not there to pick up, generally they move on until they find a business who answers. Even if you call back within five minutes, often times a customer has already lost interest in your company and has opted to go with a competitor.
I cannot stress enough the importance of answering. We have so many clients who spend a lot of money in the competitive world of marketing to get people to pick up the phone and call them in the first place. For all the time, effort and money that goes into every customer acquisition, to lose it because no one answered the phone is simply unacceptable.
Some businesses think that they are so small that they can answer and work at the same time. They usually do this because they cannot justify the expense of hiring a full time customer service representative to field those calls. STOP THAT THINKING RIGHT NOW! Consider the thousands of dollars you spend on advertising every month. Now think about what you might be losing. Still think you can’t afford it? YOU CAN’T AFFORD NOT TO!
The key is to make your customers (or potential customers) feel as if they are your number one priority. If this isn’t an option, you may also try an answering service. These are generally very affordable, and help prevent client loss. But nothing can replace a knowledgeable person who works for you answering those calls themselves. Remember, the key in gaining business is responsiveness to contact.
It’s not enough to simply answer the phone though. If you don't want to talk to someone, no matter how nice you are, your clients can tell! Answering the phone with a smile, and having a good attitude are keys to keeping satisfied customers, and turning potential clients into current customers.