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How Do You Say “Hello” At Your Business?

Telephones, also known as land phones, cell phones and smart phones these days, have become increasing more and more important to your business. Phones permit you to be constantly connected and available to whatever business needs arise in your day. They keep you aware of what is going on in your business and allow you instant access to your employees, customers, vendors and information resources to keep your business moving forward. Phones are an integral part of your business life.

But do you maximize the potential benefit of the phones in your business every time you or someone in your company says, “hello”? Or do you just take your business phones for granted?

When someone contacts your business, the person that they are talking to is the person that represents your business and will make a lasting impression on your customer or client. Like the saying goes: First impressions count.

When answering the phone at your business that first impression happens over and over and over again.

I have contact with businesses every single day from New York to California, and even occasionally Hawaii. What truly amazes me is how companies answer their telephone. Whether it’s a real live person answering the phone or an automated voicemail system most of the contacts that I make in a single business day are enough to convince any one that they don’t want to do business with that one particular company all because of how the phone is answered.

Here is what I consistently find:

– Employees who can’t take a message correctly. This leads to business people returning the call and not being prepared for the call or knowing the reason for the call. Or for that matter, ever getting a message regarding the call.

– Employees who don’t have a pen and pad to write a message down.

– Employees with poor listening, writing and multi-tasking skills which causes you to repeat the message multiple times and they still don’t get it right

– Employees with poor use of the English language and/or are chewing gum/eating a snack when answering the phone.

It doesn’t matter what the size of your company may be. It happens at companies of all sizes.

Suggestion: Have one of your business-minded friends or relatives call into your company. Discuss the goals of the call or what feedback you would like from them prior to the actual call. Instruct the caller to leave a business oriented message. Then compare results on both sides of the message taking process.

Let’s also consider voicemail messages which so often we get connected into. On the voicemail, as part of a message, some business people will say: I will call you back at “my convenience“ or “when I can“… What?! You’ll call me back at your convenience?! I see, you are the important one. Do you realize what sort of message that relays to your caller? The caller may want to do new business or have continuing business with you but when they hear that message the impression it leaves with the caller may be: But gee, you must be too important or uninterested in my business to make me a priority.

Also, with voice messages make sure the messages are always up to date. We lead busy business lives but to listen to a message that is so outdated is unnecessary, such as: I am out of the office on vacation and only have limited voicemail and email till my return on (fill in the date). … But that was two weeks ago and you’ve been back at work for a week.

Or, calling and consistently getting a full voice message box. Are you so busy that you can’t retrieve and empty your messages a few times per day? What does they say about how you will respond to the caller’s individual needs? What does it say about your organizational skills?

Oh, and one more thing, be careful what callers hear or listen to when placed on hold or are waiting to be connected. What one listens to on their iPod or when driving the car may not be appropriate for business and that includes radio stations as well as individual musical artists. What does the music or infomercial say about you and your company? You always need to be thinking about this.

Don’t lose business because of the phone. It may have a costly ring to it.

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