If you’ve ever had the pleasure of calling a large company or call centre, you are likely to have been exposed to the joys of the automated system. The pre-recorded voice asking you to select the correct option (many of which never really make sense) and assuring you, every 30 seconds, that your call is important to them.
In an ideal world you might hope that your call would be answered immediately, by a cheerful and helpful real live human being. However, with a large organisation experiencing a high volume of calls, that’s not realistic and most of us accept that.
Which is why the small business has an advantage. Your phones aren’t going to be ringing off the hook, you’re not going to have an automated system, or a queue of frustrated people waiting to speak to you. You should be able to deliver immediate customer service, answers and resolutions the second your customer needs it.
Yet, so many small businesses fail to do that, because they don’t have an effective call answering system.
Yes, it should be simple; you have a phone, doesn’t matter if it’s landline or mobile, someone calls, you answer. Job done.
Why then, when we phone sole traders and SMEs do so many calls go unanswered? You ring, no one’s there. If you’re lucky, maybe there’s a voicemail facility – but do you leave a message? The reality is few people do. When they do, statistics (and our own personal experiences) show that very few of these are ever returned.
I know, having spoken to many small businesses about their calls that for some, they’re just too busy. Take a plumber client of mine as an example. If he’s on an emergency call out, he charges by the hour. Admirably, and rightly, he won’t take other calls whilst he’s on a job, so as not to add extra time that the client has to pay for. Instead, he lets any calls go to voicemail.
He works on the basis that if it’s important, they’ll leave a message.
Of course, if it’s important they won’t. They’ll phone the next number on their list and hope they pick up instead. His callers have an issue they need resolving. If he doesn’t answer, they’re no closer to getting a resolution. The hunt must continue, without him.
Another client, an electrician this time, will answer calls no matter what he’s doing. He’s answered them whilst halfway under floorboards, in the shops, whilst driving and also when stuck up scaffolding. He barely misses a call, though when he does, he won’t return them.
On the surface that seems great – he’s keeping on top of things. However, he isn’t. When he takes a call when he’s on a job, he’s distracted. He’s invariably got his hands full, and therefore doesn’t have the chance to make any notes. If he does, it’s an illegible scrawl on the back of a receipt or pasty wrapper, which gets added to the pile of rubbish festering in the footwell of his van.
He’s taken a call, been given a lead, has been asked to quote – but he can’t remember who, where, when or what. So nothing comes of it. Maybe that customer will call back, but the chances are, if they’ve waited in for him, and he’s not shown up, they won’t. If they do, the same is only likely to happen again.
And a final example, the graphic designer who doesn’t like people. Admittedly, we’ve all been there, but this client hates talking on the phone. Can’t abide it. To the point where he actively avoids answering his calls, won’t listen to voicemails and never phones anyone back. He wants everyone to contact him via text, or email, or Messenger – which begs the question, why put your mobile number on your business cards?
All of these clients have benefitted from our call handling service, because we ensure that every single call is answered, and dealt with on their behalf. The web designer never has to speak to anyone, we do it for him, even calling people back if he has a question he needs their help with.
The electrician now has emails from us providing him with all the information he needs to complete a quote: name, address, contact details, date, time and synopsis of the issue. We manage his calls, and his diary so all he ever has to do is turn up. Which, thankfully, he is now doing.
And the plumber, he has us just taking messages for him. We ascertain what the issue is, provide him with the information, and at 5pm every night he goes through his emails and calls every single customer back.
If your customer’s calls are important to you and your business, then make sure you actually demonstrate that by answering them, dealing with it appropriately or calling them back. If you can’t do that, for whatever reason, Time Saving Heroes can.
To find out more, give us a call on 0161 883 2024; email firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with us via our Facebook page.