From the department of Answer Your Damned Phone: Here’s an e-mail sent in by a Producers Club member reporting a true story about a Google PPC lead received by another Producers Club member in his Accountability Group. This is a MUST-READ:
“So, my friend in Knoxville, TN, is doing Google AdWords. He currently uses a virtual receptionist company to answer his phones. Especially Google calls. Today, he received a call which the receptionist answered. She tried getting in touch with him to connect him. He wasn’t available. She began taking down the caller’s info. He divulged that he was an $80 million company. They have 11 locations. They have 17+ ‘internal companies.’ He went on further and informed her that he had called five IT companies. This was his fifth call. He only got to them because none of the other companies had answered their phones. They all went to automated systems or voice mails. He told her, ‘Tell your boss he will go a long damn way in life because he answers his phones live.’”
With his permission, I thought I would share. They have a meeting next week.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been harping on the importance of getting a trained, competent person to answer your phones live – NOT with a voice prompt that says, “Press 1 for sales…” – LIVE. A real, living, breathing person. Fail to do so at your own peril.
One of the biggest benefits to the Google AdWords I’ve been doing in conjunction with Tim Conkle for the past two years is the ability to finally eavesdrop on the inbound phone calls of hundreds of IT firms; unfortunately, I’ve uncovered a whole lot of “bad” from mishandled calls, rude techs answering the phone, fumbled questions and, more often than not, opportunities that simply are killed because no one picks up the damned phone anymore. Think about it: if you had the CEO of an $80 million company calling your office for tech support, do you want that to go to voice mail? Would you want a minimum-wage, untrained person handling the call? Or have one of your techs screw it up and risk them dropping the call, routing the call incorrectly or simply having them get your voice mail? It’s NUTS! That phone is the FIRST impression a prospect gets of your services; and given that the #1 reason why someone fires their current IT company and looks for someone else is “They aren’t responsive,” what kind of message are you sending to this new prospect calling in for help and they get… voice mail?
So here’s a New Year’s Resolution: Start answering your phones LIVE. If you can’t hire an admin to do it, then use a phone answering service like Call Ruby (www.callruby.com) and tell ’em ol’ double R sent ya. And while we’re on the topic, here are a few more key phone-handling rules you’ll want to implement:
- The phone should NOT ring more than three times before it’s answered. Any longer and you risk having the caller hang up.
- Record EVERY call that comes into your office and REVIEW them weekly to ensure the person answering the phone is handling the calls correctly. THIS IS CRITICAL! In the last Implementation Class we held for members using the Done-For-You Services, one CEO was CONFIDENT his team was handling inbound calls correctly – UNTIL I forced him to listen to a few of the recordings there in the class. He was shocked, and sat all through lunch with earbuds in his ears listening to the calls from months back, head in hands. Good for him. At least I know he’ll go back and correct this. How about you?
- Do NOT use, or allow your team to use, a cell phone to answer your calls. It sounds like garbage and makes it seem as though you’re “small” and unprofessional. All inbound calls should be taken by someone on a landline first.
- Treat every lead as a “five-star” lead UNTIL they prove otherwise. Be VERY careful about dismissing a lead as “not qualified” because they are asking how much you charge or are looking for you to simply fix a problem.
- The goal for anyone answering the call is to get that prospect to a competent salesperson ASAP. If a salesperson is not available, just tell them to take down the caller’s full information and book the appointment. DO NOT:
- Put them on hold forever.
- Put them into voice mail.
- Offer to have someone call them back.
- Do NOT allow a minimum-wage, untrained, unscripted person to handle inbound calls. Remember, this is the first impression a client will have of your company! Give them a script and then review all inbound calls weekly to ensure they are actually FOLLOWING the script and process you’ve outlined.
- Give your clients a different support phone number (tech hotline) than the one you’re using for Google AdWords. Next, give them desk paraphernalia (mouse pads, stickers on their machines, a calculator, coffee mug, etc.) with the “tech support hotline” on it. This will cut down on them looking you up in Google and clicking on your ad to find your phone number.