So I’m making phone calls today, following up with folks who indicated an interest in my medical device conference happening in two weeks.
It inspired this post to remind you: Your First Brand Impression May Be The Way You Treat Your Callers.
Do you treat your callers the way you’d like to be treated?
In telephone etiquette you probably want (a) a human who (b) knows how to help you. Avoid these impressions:
The “Are You A Real Business” Impression
My experience with [RidiculousCorp] was so bad I wrote their EVP. I said,
[Name withheld], you may like to know your phone service gives the impression you do not have a running operation.
I called these numbers:
• xxx-369-x531 first time, no connection at all
• xxx-369-x531 second time, rang and rang and rang
• Your Phone xxx.536.xx71 fast busy signal
• Your Cell xxx.596.xx11 fast busy signal
Thought you should know.
Then I dismissed the company as one with which I would never do business, adding the note, “Ridiculous phone service.”
The “Nine Person Operation” Impression
I called another company who advised me I should:
“Push 1 for Marty Martinson”
“Push 2 for Carl Carlson”
“Push 3 for Bill Billson,” you get the idea.
So I patiently waited. Maybe by “Push 9” I might actually get who I was calling for, all the while thinking, “I thought the company was bigger than nine people.”
Todd, the guy who emailed me in the first place, wasn’t one of the nine!
Does Todd work there anymore? Does he work in a satellite office?
I still don’t know. At that point, I could “Push Zero for the Operator” but she wasn’t available to take my call right now. I could leave a message.
Instead I disconnected, never to phone again.
The “We May Not Help You” Impression
I wanted to speak with Laura (who emailed me) but I didn’t know what department she was in.
Then came my choices: 1 for Finance, 2 for Operations, or 3 for the “General Mailbox.”
What does General Mailbox mean to you?
To me it means, “I don’t know who will get this or when. I don’t know if my message will get to the right person. And I don’t know if or when someone will call me back.”
I left a message. But don’t know what happened.
Not how I wanted to be treated.
The “Nobody’s Home” Impression
I was trying to reach their head of marketing. I failed, and wrote her:
One marketer to another, I thought I’d let you know about your phone system.
It is maddening. If I were a prospect, I would give up.
I dialed 212.xxx.4400 to give you more information about the 10x Conference you asked about. I dialed by last name to locate you and was immediately sent back to the main recording. I chose Operator and got the same recording. I chose “Sales.” No one answered. I chose “Marketing.” No one answered.
I gave up. Surely, not the impression you wanted to give.
I hope you find this note constructive, as intended.
The “Do You Know How Frustrating This Is” Impression
Me: Hi, is Eva there?
He: Um, I can’t find her. Oh! She works in our Boston office.
Me: Thanks, can you transfer me to her?
He: No, I’m sorry I can’t.
Me: OK, no problem, what’s her number?
He: Sorry, I don’t have her number.
Me: Oh, ok. What is the main number for the Boston office, please?
He: They don’t have a receptionist there so I don’t have a number to give you.
Me: Um, so, how can you help me?
He: You could send her an email, I guess.
[Insert your own expletive.]
The “WTF” Impression
If you have a website and you post a phone number, make sure it works reliably.
And yet I got the “Your call cannot be completed as dialed” message. Really?!
Go Ahead. Call Yourself.
Call your office and ask for you. (Disguise your voice or have a friend call.) Is finding you a good experience? Does your company deliver the first impression you intend?
While you’re at it, check your outbound voice message. Ask a friend to phone and report the first impression your message gives.
Another idea: Add your phone number to your email signature. Make it easy for us.
Folks, this stuff matters.
This is your brand we’re talking about.