Did you know that 70% of new clients will go to a competitor if they do not receive a live answer when they call a business? This is even more noticeable when the need is considered to be urgent, such as an after-hours call to a plumber when someone’s pipe is broken. It is very important that a live person, not a robot or an answering machine, answers your telephone when you are expected to be available.
In one of our previous blog posts, Improve Your Business Calls Now: 5 Tips on Using Your Voice Effectively to Get More Business, we mentioned that a business owner has 15 seconds from the time they answer the telephone to make a great impression on the caller and we provided 5 tips for how to use their voices to create such an impression. However, when answering a telephone call, a great impression does not just rely on how you use your voice.
Here are 3 things to watch out for that may hamper your telephone call:
Environment: Imagine you are grabbing your morning coffee at Starbucks. People are bustling around while coffee beans are being ground and drinks are being blended. It is an extremely noisy environment. Suddenly, your telephone rings and it could be a prospective client. Before you answer the call, you should consider the impression your current environment will make on the caller. No matter how sensational your voice sounds on the telephone, a noisy background does not sound professional. What you can do is answer the phone, apologize for the noise, and go outside; drop what you are doing and answer the telephone outside; or, let the answering service answer the call, take a detailed message from the caller, schedule a call back in your calendar at a time that is mutually beneficial for you and the caller. The last option will allow you to return the phone call when you are at your office, a professional environment. The more professional you sound on the telephone, the better the impression you will make.
Cell Phone: Many small business owners, especially those with mobile businesses such as plumbers and locksmiths, use a cell phone as their primary business phone since they are on the road all the time. While there are many advantages to having a cell phone for business calls as articulated in the article “The Advantages of Cellular Phones in Business” by Julia Forneis, the trouble with cell phones is that their service is notoriously unreliable. If you are heading into a spotty area or if you are unable to take the call because you are working on a job, this is a good time to forward your phone to your answering service so that you don’t miss any business calls.
Also be aware of how you answer your cell phone calls. Some business owners use their cell phones for business calls and personal calls…and they answer their telephone calls with “hello?” This is an acceptable answer phrase when your best friend calls you but not a prospective client. First and foremost, it is recommended that you have separate numbers for business and personal calls and when you receive a business call, you should always answer with a greeting such as “Thank you for calling (business name), this is (your name here), how may I help you?”. Please, please, please remember to answer your cell phone with your business name or the caller will not think they even called a business!
Preparedness to Take the Call: Many business calls come at unexpected times and there is nothing worse than sounding like you were caught off guard and that you are unprepared for their call. If you are not prepared to take the call, again the best solution is to let your answering service answer the call so you can return the call with everything you need to make a great impression.
It is very important to have a live answer for all of your business calls. However, it is also important to make a fantastic impression on the caller every time you answer the telephone. You can do this by using your voice effectively and by making sure that you are ready to answer the phone call. The latter can be accomplished by making sure that you are in a professional environment when you answer your own telephone calls, not relying on a cell phone for business calls when you are in a spotty area, answering your telephone calls with a professional answer phrase, and being prepared to take the call.