The Number #1 Most Effective Marketing Buzz Word
Thursday, July 2, 2010
By Pattie Baker
I’ve written over 200 posts for this blog about marketing your business. I am continually researching business trends and paying attention to what’s happening out there in the marketplace, locally, nationally and globally. Additionally, I am a mom in suburbia who uses service companies every week in one way, shape or form, and, trust me, I see what happens when the rubber hits the road. Therefore, it is with a great deal of thought that I make this claim—I can tell you the single most effective way to positively market your business.
Drumroll, please . . .
It’s all about the way you answer your phone.
Yep. It’s that simple.
Remember the old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, if the first experience prospects have when contacting your business involves a friendly, informative person who exemplifies the core tenets of your company, then you will make a unforgettably positive first impression. What’s more, if your customers have this experience every time they deal with your company, it will reinforce their opinion about your company over and over again, and will forge the kinds of relationships that, frankly, you can’t replace with advertising or call centers.
Listen, I know those automated call-routing systems help you increase efficiency. I know, I know. But, guess what? They don’t help me increase efficiency as a customer. They make my life harder. Case in point:
I call my children’s pediatrician and I get a recording that has said for the last five years, “You have reached blah, blah, blah. Please listen to the following eight choices in full because they have changed.” And then I spend the next five minutes in a perpetual loop trying to find the right person to answer my simple question, and of course ending up having to leave a message and perhaps getting a call back in a day.
Contrast this with my children’s dentist. I called the number yesterday and heard this:
“Dr. So and So’s office, may I help you?” I said I wanted to book an appointment. About 45 seconds later, after a few pleasantries and a glance at my calendar, the girls were booked. There are times when I wonder if I should shop around and compare prices, but then I have an experience like this and am glad my daughters are patients there. (The office staff also calls every child personally on his or her birthday and sings Happy Birthday. And, no surprise, it has my very favorite waiting room of anywhere, complete with a highly creative child-friendly décor and an enormous selection of current magazines for parents. Oh, and, of course, the dental care is excellent.)
It’s not just about being reachable. It’s about being knowledgeable as well. Let me give you another contrast. I wanted to hire someone to fix some problems on the exterior of my home and found a company on Kudzu that appeared to be located about five miles from my home. I called and got a live person. So far so good. However, as we discussed weather conditions and their effect on my home, it became clear to me that this person was nowhere near where I live. It turns out he was at a call center several states away that is in a completely different climate zone. I didn’t hire the company.
Contrast this with the front desk person at a nearby community center. I witnessed her answering a call yesterday where she gave extensive advice to a senior citizen who was interested in a health club membership for his wife. She said she was going to connect the man to Member Services and that he should ask about this discount and that and mention his wife’s medical coverage for the Silver Sneakers program. She knew to tell him these things because she has worked at that community center for years, in various departments.
In this day and age when cost-cutting leads you to evaluate how you answer your phones, keep this in mind. You can’t outsource or automate relationships. They start at “hello?” And a warm, personal, local “hello” is the best marketing buzz word I’ve heard yet.