First impressions are without a doubt the most important impression that your customer has of you—the ones that will cause them to choose to deal with you and hopefully make a purchase. Last impressions are just as important—and those will cause a customer or potential customer to come back and deal with you and/or your company again and again. In many instances the very first impression and/or the last impression that a potential customer has of you and your company could be the telephone.
Knowing this to be true it amazes me how little attention is put on telephone manners, techniques, and disciplines. I am forever calling companies where I have the privilege of listening to the long version of In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida whether I want to or not. Sarcasm aside, the length of time someone is left on hold shouldn’t be anymore than a minute or two. Certainly not the 5, 10, or even the 12 minutes that I have experienced lately. Being offered a connection to someone’s voice mail and having the phone disconnect not once but two or three times is inexcusable. Having the person on the other end of the phone search for what seems like hours for a pen and paper to take a message is unacceptable. Having the telephone ring and ring and ring for 10 to 15 rings is aggravating at best. Having a rude, abrasive person answering the telephone with just the company name is offending. What happened to answering the phone with a nice salutation and offering the company name and the name of the person who answered the telephone? In other words, have some kind of personal interaction with the person on the other end of the line.
Maybe I am turning into my parents, but I still believe that people want to deal with a real, live human being on the other end of a telephone. If I didn’t want to talk to someone I would send a fax or an email. Call your store or company sometime and experience what your customers are experiencing. It might frighten some of you. The telephone can be a great tool or a terrible determent to your business.
Author, trainer, consultant, and speaker Brad Huisken is president of IAS Training. He publishes a free weekly newsletter called “Sales Insight.” For a free subscription or more information on training, contact IAS Training at 800-248-7703, firstname.lastname@example.org, fax 303-936-9581, or visit the website at iastraining.com.