Late yesterday afternoon I was mowing the lawn when suddenly I was surrounded by 2 giant dogs. One flopped onto my foot so I would scratch his belly while to other jumped up to put his paws on my shoulders and lick my face.
I herded the dogs into my garage so I could check their tags and call their owner before they ran into the street to get hit by a car.
After some impromptu dog wrestling, I was able to check their collars – they had no tags! Now I had to figure out what to do with 2 rambunctious 80lb dogs in my garage. I decided I’d walk them around the neighborhood to see if we could find their owner.
They were quite happy to drag me down the street. I asked everyone I saw if they recognized the dogs. Nobody did. It was starting to look belak. I didn’t want to turn them into animal control. I couldn’t keep them because I have Snickers and the cats already. Plus my wife would have divorced me.
So after about being dragged around the neighborhood for an hour, I headed down one last street where I had heard big dogs barking in the past. The dogs lead me right to a house which turned out to be theirs! It ended well.
This could all have been easily avoided had the neighbor just put tags on the dogs’ collars making it easy to contact them*.
This got me thinking about a few recent experiences I’ve had trying to contact businesses.
One is Prosperworks, a CRM that I wrote about here. I’ve installed Prosperworks for several clients and have been quite pleased with it – except when I need to contact customer support. PW funnels all support requests through email. Their first email response directs me to support articles which never solve my problem. From there we have email exchanges for several hours. Most of the time, we end up having a phone call, but only after PW drags this process out for hours.
The other was Healthcare.Gov. As a self-employed businessman, I considered the ACA for insurance in 2018. Leaving all political discussions aside, I can say that the process was full of miscommunication, phone menu trees, lengthy hold times and multiple transfers to get to “the person who can help with that.” Then for weeks after I had made a decision, I received letters almost daily that provided outdated updates and redundant alerts. And in the end, I never was able to receive a definitive answer to my question – “What will this cost me?”
These three unrelated incidents all led to today’s question:
How easy is it for your customers & prospects to reach you and get the information they want?
If you’re like most of us, the answer is
“Not too easy, but it’s not my responsibility”.
I’m calling BS.
With just a little effort, every sales manager can make a big impact here.
Here’s how to do it.
#1 Make it easy to contact you from your email signature
- Not Helpful: Your company logo, your latest marketing promotion, your silly legal disclaimers
- Helpful: Your phone number, your Slack/Hangout /Other IM handle
- Exceptional: A backup contact person’s info or a link to Calendly to schedule a call with you
Most email signatures are too long (especially if marketing or legal are involved). Be sure to look at yours on a smartphone. If it takes up half a screen, something is wrong.
it should be less than 3 lines and contain your direct phone number.
#2 Make it easy to contact you from your website
- Not Helpful: Requiring me to fill out a form, auto email response saying you’ll reply within 48 hour response time (is it 1986?), hidden contact info
- Helpful: A phone number for sales and one for support under a CONTACT menu
- Exceptional: A directory with names, numbers and emails
#3 Use chat the right way
- Not Helpful: Nobody manning chat, chat responders who cannot do anything
- Helpful: Chat responders who can resolve basic sales and support issues
- Exceptional: Chat responders who can handle “level 2” questions
Keep in mind, if someone is using webchat, they are looking for a fast, articulate response via chat. Don’t just use chat to try to snare someone into a phone call or capture his email address if his issue can be resolved via chat. And please kill your AI chatbot if it cannot effectively handle 75% of your inbound chat requests.
#4 Fix Your Voicemail
- Not Helpful: A voicemail message that’s longer than 10 seconds
- Really Not Helpful: Voicemail that’s not set up (I always wonder if you will get my message)
- Silly: “…voicemail box is full…goodbye”
- Helpful: Super short messages
Setting up voicemail is an afterthought for most individuals. We rush through it on our first day at work or when we get a new cell phone and never think of it again. Listen to your message. It’s is probably too long. Does anyone still need to be told “leave a message at the beep and I’ll get back to you….”?
Call me to hear mine.
#5 Fix Your Company Routing and Hold Queues
- Not Helpful: Multi-level menus designed to make it difficult to reach a live person. Who calls you wanting to not speak to someone?
- Really Not Helpful: Dead end queues, the “due to increased volumes hold times are long”, messages to check your website for answers, playing commercials
- Helpful: Anticipate what most people want then lead with it on the first menu. Hint – it is almost always support from a live person.
- Exceptional: A human being answering the phone who is helpful in connecting you to the right person. Old school, I know. But almost ingenious in how it will set you apart.
Here’s a little secret. Most telephone systems are setup by your TELCO guy. You know him. He’s the guy who specializes in wiring closets, switches, and T1s, but never interacts with customers.
The TELCO guy hands an overwhelmed manager a basic setup template. The manager, who’s focused on hiring people, ramping up a new team & relocating his department chooses the default settings so he can quickly scratch this off his To-Do list. Then the TELCO guy implements it.
Nobody gives it a second thought – except for your poor customers who are grinding their teeth every time they call you.
As a sales manager, you should offer to review this and make it better. Chances are you’ll be given the opportunity to do it. Your customers will love you for it too.
Want to experience some of this yourself?
Then take the few simple steps outlined above and make it easy for your customers to contact you.
*If you’ve got a dog, please put a tag on it with your name, address and phone. In my neighborhood, we find lost dogs all the time, but cannot always locate their owners. A microchip helps too as long as you keep your contact info on it current.
If you want my help building your sales team or improving sales, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you.
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