It should come as no surprise that the world is changing, and the face of business changing along with it. We live in a world of 24/7 accessibility, and there is more pressure than ever these days for businesses—no matter their size—to be as accessible to their customers as possible.
There was a time when “your call is important to us” was a common sentiment, but these days, whether you are dealing with consumers or B2B interactions, it’s not enough to say the call is important; you have to treat it like it’s important.
Here are ten things that happen when you don’t take personal, immediate interaction with your brand seriously, and leave your customers wondering just how important that call is.
1. It screams “Your call isn’t that important.”
Let’s tackle the obvious one first. You can tell your callers that they’re a priority all day long, but you prove otherwise when you dump them in an endless queue or transfer them to an already full voicemail box. If you want your customer to feel important, put him or her in front of a live person on a first contact. It will make a great first impression.
2. It makes you look too busy
Think about a time when you had a simple question that you needed to be answered… let’s just use your cell phone carrier as an example. You have a question that will take 10 seconds to answer, and yet you’ve been on hold for 15 minutes just waiting to ask it. How does it make you feel?
3. It makes you look disorganized
If you are one of those business professionals who always opts to “let it go to voicemail,” you are sending a clear message that you aren’t organized enough to handle situations as they arise. Commitment to answering every call will make your business look like a well-oiled machine that is ready right now to tackle any issue or field any inquiry.
4. It escalates problems that have simple solutions
Nothing can turn a molehill into Mount Everest quite like making it difficult for people to reach you when they have a problem. Before the situation escalates, put irate customers in front of a live, reassuring voice that communicates that help is on the way right now.
5. It makes your queue even worse
When people are left waiting or keep getting tossed to voicemail, they call back. They call back incessantly. When that happens, you have an even bigger problem on your hands. Add to that the fact that the more calls you get that go unanswered, the bigger the queue is going to get. You need a plan in place that will eliminate that problem from the equation and deal with issues in real time.
6. It cheapens the customer experience
Today’s consumer wants to feel like he or she is a part of your brand. There is a definite disconnect that occurs when your client can’t reach you to get a question answered or express concern. That disconnect will cost you money, and lots of it. People want and expect you to be personally involved with them and will defect to your competition if they don’t think they’re getting that kind of attention from you.
7. It increases the probability of bad customer reviews
There are few things that people complain about with more frequency than when you are inaccessible by phone. “I waited on hold for an hour.” “They never returned my call.” “Their phone tree is ridiculous.” Don’t let this be the perception people have of your business.
8. People get impatient
Even if the call isn’t about a problem, the mood of the caller (and the tone of the call) can be severely impacted by waiting in a long queue or being transferred to voicemail. The latter is often worse since it often results in multiple calls from the same person.
9. People hang up
And they don’t call back. That is why it is vital that they reach a live person, particularly on a first contact. You might not always be available, but a voicemail stating that the call is important just isn’t at all reassuring. A live voice saying that you will return the call within a specific timeframe, however, is.
10. You lose all kinds of business
If it’s a potential sale, you just lost it. If it’s an irate customer, now they’re even angrier. No matter what the issue, when you leave people without resolutions to their inquiries, it is bad news for your business every time. No matter what the call is about—good, bad, or anywhere in between—you have to be able to handle it then and there. If you don’t, it will only impact business negatively.
So what is the key take-away from all of this? The message here is simple: Don’t let any of these things happen to you. They are all avoidable problems that, when eliminated from the equation, will help you build a reputation that is light years ahead of even your fiercest competitors. It might cost a bit more at the start, but the benefit to your business (and your bottom line) would be practically immeasurable.