If You Want To Grow Your Business – Answer the Phone!

By Tom Grandy, Founder

Does your company have a marketing program?  It likely does.  Most companies invest in direct mail, social media, referral networks, billboards and perhaps even radio and TV.  What’s the objective of marketing?  To make the phone ring.

Now, let’s make it personal by forgetting about your customers for a couple of minutes.  It’s just you. You need service, or perhaps a piece of equipment replaced.  Perhaps you Googled a few companies in your area or even asked friends for their recommendations.   At last you have decided who to call.  You pick up the phone and one of three situations take place:

  1. A real live person answers the phone – The person answering the phone is polite, asks the right questions, and in general gives you a warm fuzzy feeling. After a short, but friendly, conversation an appointment is either set to come discuss your situation and/or a service call is scheduled.    Well done!  That’s the way it is “supposed” to happen, right?
  1. The phone rings and rings until you get a recorded message – This time it’s a bit different. The phone rings and rings until eventually you hear a voice message telling you they are sorry they missed your call, with a request to leave a message so they can call you back.  Frustrating, right?  Why? Because you have a real need but can’t talk to anyone about solving it. 
  1. The phone rings and rings and no one answers it! – This is the height of frustration.

How persistent are you, as a customer?  Will you leave your name and number and wait for a call back?  Will you call back in an hour, or perhaps the next day?  How long are you willing to wait before you say, “Forget it, I am going to call another company until I find one that answers the phone.”  These are questions I am asking YOU.  Once you have answered them, then think about customers calling your company.  What are they hearing…or not? 

The unanswered call is saying a lot to the customer, without anyone having to say it?. Is the company too busy to answer the phone, therefore they don’t need my business?  Is it telling me they are a one or two-man operation since they obviously don’t have a full-time person in the office to answer the phone, perhaps they are too small, or inexperienced, to take care of my situation?  If I can’t get them to answer the phone, how likely is it they are going to show up on time if I were to hire them?

Believe me, how YOU answer, or don’t answer your phone is making a huge impression on your potential customer. 

I don’t have a source to find out what percentage of potential customers never call back when no one answers the phone or if they reach a recording.  However, from a consumer standpoint, I bet most customers quickly look for someone else if they can’t talk to a real person…the first time they call. 

Some of you are saying.  “Hey Tom, that’s not really a big deal.  Besides, most companies answer the phone, right?”  Wrong!  I literally just finished calling a whole pile of cards I received at recent seminar, just to follow up.  At least one third of the stack either did not answer the phone or they had a recording.  In my case, I’m pretty persistent.  I call and call, and call until I get ahold of people.  This process has now been going to for nearly a week and, guess what?  Most of that third STILL have not answered the phone.  Did I leave a message to call me back?  No, I didn’t.  Why? Because I want to talk to them and when I want to talk to them, not at 7:00 AM or 8:30 PM.

Granted I am a business trainer with a bit of a different perspective.  I call back because I am trying to create business.  However, at this point, I am convinced that those I am unable to reach are simply too small to utilize my services or too busy to take a serious look at the business side of their business.

The point is quite clear.  If you want to grow your business, answer the phone!  I understand the owner is probably out working in the field or on a sales call.  However, if you are really serious about growing your business, either transfer the office phone to your cell, and answer it, or hire a full-time person to answer the phone or employ an outside answering service to respond to calls.  When people call your business, they want to talk to a real person.

If you aren’t going to answer the phone, stop marketing!  You are wasting your money if the phone isn’t going to be answered by a real person.  

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