Just over two years ago, my colleague Rob Hancocks said to me: “you should write something about how badly some businesses answer the telephone – in many cases, it’s appalling”. And Rob should know; in different sales and support roles, he’s been steadily ringing thousands of manufacturers and distributors in technical businesses for many, many years. Yet it’s only in recent times that he’s been moved to comment on how poorly they present themselves to customers and prospects, in what’s still the most important means of business communication. First impressions count, and for many businesses, the first impression is truly awful.
For larger companies with a dedicated telephone receptionist, there’s no excuse for getting things wrong, and I suspect few do. However, nowadays we’re encouraged to bypass what some people still like to call the “switchboard”, and call “sales”, “support”, “accounts” etc directly. And it’s probably the people there (i.e. almost everywhere) who need some training on how to answer the telephone politely and professionally. Departmental phone lines made us all into receptionists, years ago. It beggars belief that anyone can call a company and be given an unfriendly “welcome”, yet Rob says he hears several of these every week, and they don’t know that he’s not their biggest customer.
Hands up who’s rung their own company recently, just to see what greeting they get?