Picture this… you’ve spent months on optimizing your site, you’ve got all your citations set up with the correct NAP data, building links and relationships like crazy, and now you’ve got page one positioning for your small business and lo and behold, the phone starts ringing with new prospects ready to work with you! Like taking candy from a baby, right? But what happens if the prospect calls during your business hours, and no one answers? What if there is an answer, but they’re greeted with a surly “Who’s this?”. Search Engine Optimization, like any advertising mechanism, gets the clients to come but it’s still up to you to convince the prospect you’re the right team for the job. This kind of reception is going to make that difficult for you and weaken the value of your marketing efforts, online or otherwise.
Whether it’s a B2B business like a CPA’s office, or maybe a handyman, it’s common for small service oriented businesses to run without the help of a receptionist, or perhaps the main phone is forwarded directly to a cell phone. If you’re in the middle of particularly difficult tax return, or maybe you’re up a ladder that call might go unanswered. This is understandable, but you have to consider that the person calling has plenty of local data at their fingertips and can move on to the next business on the list.
If you do let a call go unanswered:
- Make sure the voice mail greeting is as warm and welcoming as possible and invites the caller to leave you a message and let them know when to expect a return call.
- If no voice mail is left, and you’ve got the caller ID, call them back. Just make sure you do it right away and explain who you are and that you may have missed a call from that number and you’d be happy to help.
- Whatever you do, call back ASAP!
When You Do Answer The Phone:
- Make sure you do it right! This is your new prospect’s first impression of how you do business. Instead of answering “Dave here.”, try “Thanks for Calling ABC Handyman Service, this is Dave”. The difference is huge, and inspires huge confidence in the caller that you’re a pro.
- Watch the inflection and tone of your voice. If you speak in monotone, the caller will think you’re bored and have zero interest in what’s being said.
- Smile before you answer! It really makes a difference in the way your voice projects, and the caller can hear it.
Improve Your Telephone Personality
Years ago when I had the dream of being a radio disc jockey, I did a stint on local college radio. We were encouraged to set a tape recorder to run each time the microphone was activate to we could listen to ourselves and find areas of improvement. As far as I know its illegal to record phone calls without notifying all parties on the line, but you can still use the same principal to practice. Use a handheld recorder or the memo recording technique on your mobile phone and “practice” answering the phone and you can hear for yourself how utilizing the techniques mentioned above can help!
Use an Answering Service
If you find that it’s just not practical to answer every phone call that comes in to your business, consider hiring a full time receptionist or an off-site phone answering service. You can have all of your incoming calls forwarded to a service that will answer each and every call with a smile and either patch calls through to you wherever you are or give you messages. I don’t have any experience with any of these agencies to recommend one, but you can work with larger organizations like Answer Connect or small locally established businesses like Eve’s in Menlo Park.