Answering the phone is a marketing function

Research says that 66% of small businesses value phone leads above all others, and spend $68 billion in advertising to get people to pick up the phone.

When I read that, I thought of my favorite Vietnamese restaurant.

Whenever I order carryout, it’s the exact same rapid-fire response, “Quang!”

The immediacy of the cashier is made clear by their frantic interjection of the restaurant’s name. I have to order right the pho now.

So I respond, “310, an- and egg rolls.”

“Name?” I blurt it out, “Five, 10 minutes.”

Click. That’s it, my heart is pounding, and my brow moist and I’m left hoping they didn’t write down Mike again.

If the food wasn’t so good, I’m not sure I would be subjecting myself to their frightening phone presence. I can’t imagine what it would be like for a new customer. But they don’t really have to think about phone etiquette; a missed lead on an $8 bowl of noodles isn’t going to hurt their bottom line.

Scaring off a lead on a $100,000 boat, however, should make a business take that phone strategy very serious.

That report I mentioned comes from BIA Kelsey and also digs into call routing and taking calls in the age of the smartphone. It’s a fascinating look at something many business take for granted.

There are so many things to consider from a marketing perspective: For instance, does, “Hello, Bob’s boats,” really paint a picture of the business?

Does your automated message entice people to come in or play on the businesses’ theme? If you’re showroom features an island theme, a little island-inspired music might get callers into the buying mood (just don’t go overboard with the steel drums).

Where does that call go and who should grab it? I’ve called many businesses, gone through a concise and informational message only to ring and ring and ring at the department desk.

What happens after hours? Keeping the same message all day is a great way to drive callers elsewhere when nobody picks up.

A business can’t take calls for granted, and shouldn’t waste advertising dollars driving people to an empty phone bank. Take a look at your phone strategy and make sure it’s in tune with the rest of your marketing.

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