Your first contact is important. Retail businesses usually do a good job here, but service companies, professional offices, and companies selling to other companies often do a poor job. Two areas you should work on are the initial phone contact and a reception area.
Initial Phone Contact
The main reason initial phone calls are handled poorly is that companies look at them as an expense. They are happy if one overworked receptionist can handle every call. A survey was once carried out trying to relate the length of an incoming phone call and sales results. A concerted effort to talk longer was made by increasing the length of initial calls from about two to three minutes to about eight minutes. Appointment rate went from about 10 percent to over 30 percent. All that was done to lengthen the call was to ask more questions.
Some of the questions you can use are:
- What action have you taken so far?
- What are you hoping we can do for you?
- What is your application?
- Have you seen our equipment demonstrated?
- How did you hear about us?
- May I make a couple of suggestions?
Receptionists cant ask these types of questions and sound natural. You need to have a knowledgeable person.
The Reception Area
This might not be the best term, it is used to mean the area where a customer waits to see you. It is important for a company’s waiting area to show that the company really understands its customers. One law firm once visited had me wait in a law library. It was much bigger than expected and was impressive. Waiting room strategies help show customers that you know what you are doing.
- Set up a policy for incoming calls. Decide how they should be handled by the receptionist and what type of knowledgeable person should be available. Don’t leave phones unanswered.
- If quite a few customers visit you, look over your waiting room area. You’ll get considerable benefit if you can make it reflect your business.