By Chuck Sink
We can all understand why some executives need to protect themselves from interruption and time wasters. But anyone in sales, which includes most CEOs, should be accessible because the public at large includes all potential customers and other opportunities. A company to remain nameless lost my potential referral this week and a smaller, more approachable competitor will get it.
Big companies that fold ultimately fail for one reason. They become irrelevant to their customers. They can do this many ways. One big way is failing to make 2-way communication easy or deliberately making communication one sided, pissing off customers and potential customers. I see you nodding your head.
We’ve all experienced frustrating web forms that attempt to gather too much information or corral us into areas we don’t want to enter. We’ve also called for service or questions only to the dead end of non-options offered by the auto-assistant.
A percentage of customers may accept this unacceptable kind of relationship but a juicy, potentially lucrative portion of the market will bounce off the web page or hang up as soon as they sense a programmed waste of their time. They will make a beeline for the nearest competitor with a friendly agent ready to help them (buy something) and serve up a great experience!
The accessible business that lets the public speak with real caring people wins every time in the long run.
Aside from utilities and sometimes limited options, I choose to do business only with companies willing to have a relationship with me. I know they primarily want my money, but they are willing to keep earning it by taking time to help customers and potential customers – giving us a good reason to send them new customers.
Here are a few ways to avoid the false efficiency of limited service options and auto-attendant call processing.
- Answer the phone! Always let callers have the option to talk with a person. Make it the first option.
- Require only the minimum needed information on web inquiry forms.
- Respond to voicemail and web inquiries fast! 24 hours max.
- Fire customer-facing employees with bad attitudes. Fill in for them yourself if necessary.
- Hire only smart “people persons” in those jobs.
- Go the extra mile to delight or satisfy every customer for every dollar they spend.
- Don’t worry about the clock when you are providing excellent service. It’s not a zero sum game!
- Manage growth. If new business actually threatens your quality delivery, make that very clear to the prospect. Some might even get on a waiting list if you’re known as the best in the market.
- Be creative with add-ons and freebies that cost you little but are valuable to customers.
If any of the above sound like too much labor or cost, just think about what you already do when presented with vendor choices. Read the list again. The Golden Rule is so amazingly simple, isn’t it?