Change the way your business answers the phone and get to drive a Porsche?
The owner of a small petrol station local to me drives a very nice Porsche.
And it has been slowly dawning on me how he can afford such a sensational car when he runs a seemingly modest business.
And, how more business owners could do the same if they copied one simple habit that he has.
Let me explain...
As a high mileage driver I spend a lot on fuel.
For years I have been filling up at the closest garage (not the one with the Porsche). And for years I have been annoyed at the way they greeted and served me.
The best way I could describe it is 'terse'.
Despite my repeated custom I would get no shred of recognition or acknowledgement from the people running it - who, from what I can tell, seem to be the family of the franchisee - the owners.
To make it worse, they always 'challenged' me.
If I were buying a paper I would get 'challenged' with "any fuel with that?" accompanied by a suspicious look.
I am not a thief, I would think to myself, as I quietly seethed and wondered why they refused to acknowledge that my car wasn't even parked at a pump.
Or if I had bought fuel and picked up a bottle of water to buy as well I would be challenged with "paying for that with the fuel?".
No I am not trying to shoplift, I would think, and wonder why, after 12 years of custom they hadn't learned to appreciate that I was a good (and honest) customer.
I'm sure you've been 'challenged' in the same way.
And I don't know about you, but it gets right up my nose.
However, about 6 months ago a new petrol station opened up a bit further away from where I live, on the site of an old and abandoned garage.
Although it is on a country road, miles from the nearest town, it has been brought back to life.
And the owners (franchisees no doubt) always greet me with a smile, a genuine greeting - and best of all they NEVER 'challenge' me.
They are astute enough to know whether I bought any fuel to go with my bottle of water, and seem to have figured out that I always pay for my fuel and any other items I buy separately.
Even though they are twice as far from my village as the 'terse' petrol station - guess who now gets my business?
What about price you may ask?
Well, I'm not a price shopper for fuel. I can't even tell you which one is the cheapest. I just appreciate being treated with some dignity.
I'm not yet friends with the owner of the new garage. But I've a feeling I will be one day. And one day I'll ask about his Porsche (funny coincidence that he can afford such a nice car) and his business. It'll be interesting.
I changed garage because of a smile, the absence of a challenge and despite having to go out of my way to get there...
Now I'm sure that the people who persisted in 'challenging' me for years did that because some people do pay for an item and try to dodge paying for the fuel, or pay for the fuel and try not to pay for the goods from the shop.
But is treating everyone like a potential offender the way to win people over?
I have transferred my allegiance to a new garage all because of a smile and some simple thoughtfulness.
Gatekeepers on Steroids
This reminded me of what is wrong with the way the vast majority of businesses answer the phone.
Most people answering the phone in most businesses are like 'gatekeepers on steroids' - the person answering the phone is poised to 'repel the sales call'.
They, and the business, have become a sales call repelling machine (a bit like my old 'friends' at the garage who had become 'shop lifting and fuel theft prevention machines') and as a result treat everyone tersely and with initial suspicion.
They are answering the phone with completely the wrong posture - they are ready to launch a vigorous defence and are coiled to repel invaders.
Result? Terse call handling.
Yet, you can often see the contrast when the person answering the phone recognises the caller as a client and instantly changes from a terse 'sales call repelling machine' into a warm and friendly person.
It's not that we can't be great at answering the phone - the problem is that we often don't become warm and friendly until we have established that we are not dealing with a sales call.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
With the wrong 'posture', you can lose prospects in the first few seconds of the call.
Two basic rules to help frontline people to be GREAT
on the phone...
It's been said many times that the telephone is the shop window to your business.
And it's true - people make a decision about you and whether they're going to deal with you in the first few seconds on the phone.
Telephone professionalism absolutely is common sense, but then as they say, common sense isn't always that common!
Telephone professionalism starts even before you pick up the phone...
RULE 1 - Smile widely before you pick up the phone
Sounds too simple to even mention, doesn't it? But smiling as you pick up the phone radiates warmth and energy. The caller can't SEE the smile, but they'll feel the warmth and sincerity of it.
And we mention it here, because in our increasingly busy days, it's an easy 'rule' to forget.
RULE 2 – Follow these 3 steps in answering the call
Again, this sounds so basic. But if you need convincing at how BADLY companies answer the phones, just note next time you call them.
In seminars, we've even had attendees go out and call their OWN company in the break.
Some would come back in dismayed at how they THOUGHT their businesses handled calls properly. But the training wasn't there, and it didn't happen.
The THREE simple steps in answering a call?:
• Welcome the caller with good morning or good afternoon
• Then give your company name
• Then your name
Don't say "Joe speaking" or "How may I help you?". Finish with "This is Joe".
Why? People remember the LAST thing you say, so you WANT it to be your name.
And when you do it this way, something interesting happens. The caller is more likely to give you their name back and your call starts working well.
Consign 'Terse' to the Dustbin
Is it time to consign 'terse' to the dustbin in your business and give your 'shop window' a whole new sparkle?
What about the Sales Callers you may ask? Well, when they call, simply learn to say no with a smile.
You'll feel better. And so will they.
But best of all - you'll create some great first impressions and attract some wonderful new clients.
After all - people buy from people they like. Let's be instantly likeable when someone calls. It's great marketing!
Forward this to a colleague...
Special Note for Results Corporation Marketing Help Online, Business Builder Programme or Coaching clients:
If you want to boost the professionalism of your team on the telephone you can access our five part Professionalism on the Telephone video training programme free within Marketing Help Online. Please speak to your Results Corporation advisor if you require your login and password details.
If you are not yet a client, you can find out more about Marketing Help Online here.