How an answerphone can make or break your image
Let’s assume you are a busy professional. You are out on appointments and can’t answer the phone. You get an enquiry and someone goes through to your answerphone. What do they hear? What you have recorded on that answerphone is the only thing that can determine their impression of you and your business. They don’t know you any more than the next person.
Your answerphone image can make or break the chances of them leaving a message. Many people don’t like leaving messages. Therefore, if possible get every call answered. However, depending on your circumstances this may be unrealistic.
If someone makes an enquiry but fails to leave a message, you get a 50:50 chance they will call back. They will often go to a competitor and see if they can speak to someone immediately. All that expensive advertising you have done ends up nearly twice as expensive for the same number of potential customers you speak to. You don’t want that to happen.
Make your answerphone image separate you from the rest of the crowd. Its not difficult as most haven’t put any thought into it.
7 power tips essential for an effective IT answerphone use
Tip #1: Don’t use the standard answerphone message
How often have you heard the default message that comes with an answerphone? You end up sounding like an amateur with nothing to distinguish you. The potential client doesn’t even know if they have called the right number, as you haven’t identified your company. Do your own message.
Tip #2: Set it to kick in after 3 rings when out
Researchers suggest answering a phone after 3 rings when you are in. If you answer earlier the caller is startled. If you answer later the caller may hang up.
Therefore I recommend setting your answerphone to 3 rings before it kicks in. If it comes on immediately, the caller may not have had time to psychologically settle down and be ready to leave an answerphone message.
Tip #3: Identify the company name and not your own
Don’t say, “Hello, this is Jon Lawrance. Please leave a message after the tone.” It will make your company sound small and that can go against you in the business market.
Instead, say “Thank you for calling XYZ company. We are unable to take your call right now, but if you leave your name and number we will get right back to you.” Stating a company name implies that there might be more than one employee.
Fake it until you make it, so the saying goes.
Tip #4: Use someone you know with a good speaking voice
If you don’t have a suitable phone manner, ask a friend to do your answerphone message for you. You want someone who speaks clearly and sounds professional. Using someone else also makes your company appear larger because they get someone different to speak to when handling enquiries.
Tip #5: Keep redoing your message until its spot on
Take time to do it right. Don’t just rush it or you’ll cost yourself money.
Tip #6: Regularly call in to pick up messages
Check your message as often as possible. Buy an answerphone that allows you to check your messages remotely. You can pick up your calls in your lunch break when on appointments, which helps with rapidly returning enquiries.
Tip #7: Remember to switch it on!!!
Stupid though this may sound, make it a routine to always switch it on when leaving the office, even if going to the loo!
Effective alternatives to using answerphones
Consider these alternatives to replace or compliment an answerphone:
- Redirect all calls to your mobile. Make sure your mobile also has an answerphone to take messages when switched off.
- Log the phone numbers of your enquiries. Some countries signal the number of the person who is calling. You can buy devices that log the number and time of the call. Match these against your answerphone messages and when they were left. Call back all the other numbers and say “Somebody from your number called us at 2pm today. We are XYZ company and we offer computer consultancy. Was it you?” You would be surprised at the number of calls you can salvage by doing this. Well worth the effort.
- Get your spouse or partner to take the calls. Make sure they answer with your phone script and don’t let them try to sell for you. The chances are they will tell your customer what you do and that will be it. The client goes, they haven’t been sold and you lose the enquiry. Make sure your partner just takes their name and number, no more. You should do the selling.
- Call-taking bureaux. There are agencies that have someone who will personally take all your calls. They often charge around $1.50 per call but you benefit by not losing any enquiries. You can have them read a script to the client or just take their name and number. They will give you all enquiry details and statistics on calls taken.