On the Line
If you’ve seen the previews for the new Spike Jonze movie “Her” you know it’s about a man who falls in love with the voice on his phone. I’ll never be “Her.” Mostly because I’m not an animatronic Siri-like phone system, but also because it seems no one answers my calls. Similar to many of you dealers and salespeople, being an editor requires that a good deal of my time be spent cold-calling. The only difference is, I’m calling you, the dealers. There has been one thing that stands out to me throughout the past year and a half of trying to call you—many of you simply don’t pick up the phone.
Don’t get me wrong—chatting on the phone isn’t my favorite activity. But while calling for stories, you’d be surprised by the number of calls that ring for what seems like forever before going to voicemail. Rarely, if ever, do I leave a voice message. Instead, a call goes out to the next dealer who may answer me.
It’s the same for me when purchasing something. If I have to call a company on the phone for a service and don’t speak to someone immediately, it’s on to the next one, calling the numbers listed on Google until someone answers the call the first time.
Few things are as frustrating for a customer as feeling as though your call is not a top priority. We all get busy. Several people can tell you I’m the queen of voice messages; my phone always seems to have a blinker. If I were to sit at my desk for three hours there wouldn’t be a single call, but in the mere moments it takes to refill a glass of water, inevitably, a voice message will be waiting upon my return. The difference is, I’m not selling anything and, therefore, not losing potential customers to competitors who answer the phone more quickly.
Another concerning situation is when people do answer the phone rarely, it seems, they know where to find the sales managers or owners. They’ll tell me they can send me to a voicemail, though the person may not get back to me for several days. Totally understand wanting to get rid of a pesky reporter, however, on several occasions after saying, “Hello, I’d like to speak with someone in sales or the owner with questions about getting window film installed,” the person on the other end of the phone has given me the same response. I don’t leave a voice message for those calls either. In those instances, for all anyone knows, that call was from a customer. How many leads are some of you losing this way?
It’s impossible to be everywhere at once, but making sure that you have a strong phone answering system in place in which customers can speak to a knowledgeable person during business hours is the key to landing as many contracts as possible. In a society that enjoys the instant gratification of the Web and a desire to “need it now,” the leads many of you may be missing are adding up.