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  Category: Articles » Business » Advertising » Article

Don't Let Your Phone Kill Your Business

By BIG Mike McDaniel

Business to Business relationships come to expect a certain level of professionalism, from the first telephone call to the final delivery.

Your business can be on the Really Big 500 list, employ only a handful of people, or be a business of one but what is said by that business to other business customers will reflect the personality of that business. It can be a PR boost or a PR blowout.

Have you called the telephone company or your long distance provider lately? Chances are you will get a machine telling you to "listen closely because the options have changed" (as if you could remember what they used to be).

Only the company's bean counters will argue that all that "select and press" boogie-woogie is good for the company. Word of mouth is faster and cheaper than any other form of advertising, and very widespread. Have you talked with anyone that thinks voice mail menus are nifty?

For years I have told my clients to look to the big boys to see how they do things. Now I hedge my advice, by pointing them at the big boys that are doing it right, because so many have made more than one wrong turn on the road to a professional, caring image.

The telephone is only one part of the puzzle, but one of the most important parts. I tell my clients with small to mid size businesses to call the office from time to time to see how the phone is answered.

It is true, you can hear a smile on the other end of the phone. You can also hear indifference. The Easy one to spot is outright disgust. One bored telephone answerer (more than any other company asset or liability) can do more to undo a business image that took years to create.

What if your company is you? Staff of one with a home office. What happens when a call comes in and you are not there to put on your best voice? Does a machine get it? In how many rings? What does the machine say? Does your machine make sense if a total stranger calls?

It only takes a few minutes to draft a script for the answer machine. So much better than an ad lib. Even the pros write it down. Forget about that "I'm not here" stuff, any moron can figure that one out. No need to lecture them with "..say your phone number twice" or "talk slowly, I am not a stenographer". Record it over
and over until it sounds bright, happy, and clear enough for Grandma to understand.

The ultimate professional faux pas is to use your home phone number as your business number. This might work if you live alone and your answer machine always answers on the second ring. But what if there is a house of full of kids and an in-law or two? What happens if a child, or grandchild, answers... "huh-whoah?"

"Is this Charlene's Chimney Sweepers?"

"I'll get my Mommie (clunk) Mommieee"

Neat first impression. Consider the ramifications if a teenager in your house has figured out how to dial out.

If you don't have a separate business number at home, call the telephone company and order a second residential line. Just tell them you want a second line, no need to explain. Once it is installed, make it your main business line and leave the home phone to the kids.

If it walks like a pro and acts like a pro...
About the Author
copyright 2006 Big Mike McDaniel - all rights reserved. BIG Mike is the Small Business Advertising Expert and recommends

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