As large companies get bigger and depersonalize themselves to save labor costs, they expose their vulnerability to Small Businesses. However, many Small Businesses miss opportunities to capitalize on this Small vs. Big Business competition by trying too hard to emulate their larger foes. They should be trying to differentiate themselves from Big Biz practices that cause their customers to scream in dismay at times. For today, let’s hone in on phone calls.
A large number of big companies put you through an obstacle course to get an answer to your question. First you are told to push one of two buttons, to select the language you want to converse in with a machine that refuses to even chuckle at your best lines. Then you are directed to pick one of four choices, then one of five, then one of three, etc. Sometimes none of their choices fit, so you push 0 and hope you hit the lottery and get an operator from another country. If you are so lucky, you then ask questions like I would like to know the name of your Marketing Director, the head of Small Business, etc. You might be told that they don’t know or most likely we can’t tell you. This answer would also be applicable if you were to ask for an email address.
There are many points in your odyssey, particularly when you first dial and the computer voice tells you to hold, but they appreciate your call and that this phone call may be monitored to ensure better service (a lie). As you hold and listen to music you did not select, a computer will periodically interrupt and tell you they have a heavy volume of calls that day and someone will be with you shortly. The latest in technology in this scenario is that the company won’t let you hold indefinitely. No, they don’t ask for your number so they can call you back. They automatically cut you off with a recording saying “Good bye” or “You have been kicked from this conference.” This actually happened to me recently with one of our major phone companies.
So, please Small Businesses of America, have a real human person with a pleasant demeanor and some brain power answer your phones. This Director of First Impressions will pay off in a big way. I have no quarrel with using technology, but it should help, not hurt you. If the person calling your company is told by your Director of First Impressions that they are not in, they could offer the caller a choice of leaving a message with the operator or being connected to the person they are calling’s voice mail.
Personalize your relationships, and you will be on the way to acquiring and keeping loyal customers.
Would love to hear any Big Company phone stories of import that you have experienced.