September 01, 2009
Return My Call...Or Else
We all have them. One thing (or many) that grates on us like sand in a swimsuit. Mine? Unreturned phone calls. As I write this on very late Monday evening, I realize I never heard back from three people I left messages for today. One is a note seller who contacted me last week for a bid on her note. I called her back the very same day and left a message to call. I called again on Wednesday, and again on Friday. May I remind you...SHE CALLED ME for a bid! Why now does she treat me like I've got some kind of telephonic leprosy? At what point do I become a pest? Considering the current state of our communication (or lack thereof), should I even care?
What does someone stand to gain by not returning phone calls? OK, more time to attend to “more important” things. But what’s more important than transacting potential new business? Obviously I don’t ask my customers why they won’t call me back, but I did pose the question to a few of my colleagues who have gotten (ahem) a 'reputation' for having ‘nocallbackitis’. Here are some common responses I’ve gotten when asking why they aren’t more consistent in returning their calls:
“I’m too busy to return my phone calls.” No worries…eventually everyone will stop calling and you’ll have PLENTY of spare time once you’ve lost all your customers.
“If it’s really important, they’ll call back.” Not necessarily…if I don't return my existing and prospective customers' phone calls, I know they will simply call up one of my competitors and forget me as quickly as they found me.
“I would never ignore a really important call.” Who makes that determination? What if the caller, somebody you’ve never heard of, was actually referred to you by an existing customer/client? Referrals are gold, and you’re going to treat them like scrap metal? Not only do you slam the door on potential new business, but you’ve likely jeopardized your relationship with the referring party.
Early in my career, I had a meeting with one of the company’s attorneys in his office. He had just returned from a week’s vacation, and his inbox was about two feet high with documents, files, and assorted papers. The pile was directly between us, restricting our view of each other, and his trash can sat directly below the pile. In one sweeping motion with his left arm, he pushed everything in that inbox into the trash can below. He noticed my shocked gaze and said, “If there’s a fire, it’ll find me.”
I will never forget that. In his position, he could apparently do something like that and get away with it. As the owner of my own business, I can't afford to take that kind of attitude. And this I promise: If you call me and I can't immediately take the call, leave me a message. I WILL call you back.
Make it a great week.
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