I was calling an advisor client of mine, Bill Peterson. The story is true but the name here is fictitious. The phone rang seven times, so I was expecting voice mail. Instead, I was greeted by an unhappy, bored, stressed female voice.
“Mr. Peterson’s Office,” the voice grumbled crankily.
“May I speak with him?” I asked politely.
“He’s busy right now,” said the voice with an edge that suggested I was a huge interruption in her busy morning. “Would you like his voice mail?”
“I’d prefer to leave a message with a human,” I responded.
“I’m sorry, sir, but I’m too busy to take a message, I can’t even find a pen in all this mess,” said the voice with mounting hostility, “Do you want his voice mail or not?”
The decision to do business with you-or to continue to do business with you-is made in the first few seconds of contact. If I had been a client or a prospective client, I would have responded, “No, just have him send my files to my new advisor.”
But I’m the coach who is helping him grow his business, so I accepted the offer of voice mail.
“I had no idea,” Bill said apologetically when we spoke later that day. “I know Gloria is cranky sometimes-she’s got a lot going on in her life-but I never suspected that she was taking it out on callers.”
You may be great on the phone with your clients and prospects, but how does your staff handle your calls? Would you be as surprised as Bill was?
Here’s how the conversation might have gone:
Pleasant Voice [responding after no more than three rings]: “Mr. Peterson’s Office. This is Gloria. How may I help you?”
Me: “May I speak with him?”
Pleasant Voice: “I’m sorry sir, he’s working with a new referral client at the moment. Maybe there’s something I can help you with?”
Voice mail (“Press ‘1’ for Gloria, Press ‘2’ for Bill”) is convenient. But if you want to make a really good impression on a caller, nothing beats a well-trained, pleasant human who answers the phone promptly and makes a noticeable effort to be helpful.
If you don’t know how your clients, prospective clients, vendors and others are being treated by your team, have someone call your office with a problem while you’re listening in. Then, if you need to, fix what you hear.
In the meantime, keep REACHING…