Ready? Okay, here it is: be available.
If the phone rings, answer the darn thing. At a minimum, don’t let it go into voice mail unless you – or someone else on your team – absolutely, positively will call back within a specified time.
During a recent interview for my upcoming book on late blooming entrepreneurs, one successful business owner had this to say: “Always answer your phone and say yes –then do what you said you would do.”
Another said he picked up a nice chunk of new business simply because he answered his phone. That didn’t happen when the customer called four other companies.
Ever called a business to place an order — and got a recorded message saying the phone mailbox is full and not accepting messages? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
On the opposite end of the spectrum are companies like L.L.Bean, which receives top service ratings in part because it strives to answer most calls within 20 seconds and always with a “live” person. Granted, L.L.Bean has a bigger budget than many businesses, but its service philosophy isn’t that difficult to adopt, is it?
The same principle applies to email, of course. Sure, most business websites have a “contact us” section – but many times, you won’t find the name of an individual who can help with questions or problems. More often than not, the listed contact is something warm and personal like “firstname.lastname@example.org.” The name alone leaves doubts about whether you’ll receive any response at all.
Having been customers all their lives, people who start businesses later in life tend to appreciate the “be available” approach to customer service. In an era of automatic communications, it’s become unusual to call or email a business and reach a human being on the first try. Why not make your business one of the few, special places where that happens?
By the way, if you have any comments on this post, please let me know. I’ll get back to you in a few weeks. Maybe.