Their phone went dead!

I rang a prospective new supplier today – at 9.37am. After ringing for ages the phone suddenly went dead. Maybe they weren’t open yet, I thought. I rang again, this time at 10.52am. Again the phone rang and rang and rang. Again it suddenly went dead. Did I try a third time? No!

That company lost what could have been a huge amount of business for them. Why? Well, for any number of reasons. Their phone is left unattended for hours. When it’s not answered it just goes dead; not even a boring answerphone message. At least with an answerphone message I would have known the business still existed. There’s lack of customer care. Lack of organisation. Lack of thought. I could go on. What’s certain is that nothing is saying we really value your business.

So do you know what happens when someone calls your business? Is the phone always answered? How many times does it ring before it’s answered? What is said when it is answered? A bored ‘Hello’ or a helpful ‘How can I help you?’

You could be spending a great deal of money on advertising only for it to be wasted by how your phone is being (or not being) answered.

Why not run a little test? Ring your office the moment it opens, then again half-way through the morning, again just before lunch, during lunch, just after lunch, half-way through the afternoon and lastly just as you are about to close (but not all on the same day). You might be surprised at the results.

I know of a company where the receptionist wore headphones; no one heard the phone ring and no one knew she often didn’t answer it when it did.

In my business the aim is to answer the phone within three rings (by the office staff). Should the phone ring more than three times then the person nearest a phone picks it up. It doesn’t matter who that member of staff is as they have all been trained on the best way to answer a call.

Off Piste!

I’m off skiing in Italy next week, with one of my sons, and it reminds me of the last time we went skiing together.  The snow was perfect, eight inches fell one night, the sun shone, and I was in good form.  Overall it was a fantastic week.

The off piste skiing was very good and lots of fun, although, at times, our play resulted in an unexpected tumble and a face full of snow.  I even have a video to remind me!  One of our ‘excursions’ reminded me of how easily the plans we have for our businesses can go astray when we lose sight of exactly what we are doing.

We were half way down a run and stopped for a breather.  Having calmed down our heart rate (well okay mine) we started off again and my son decided to take a different route; he would join up with me again further down the slope just around some trees that we could see. That was the last I saw of him for almost an hour!

It turned out that just around the trees, but out of sight of where we were, the slope turned in the opposite direction to that which we were going.  So he decided, like any boy would, to go off piste, through the trees, and make his way over to the slope I was on.  But that didn’t work, as the contours of the mountain forced him further away from both me and the slope he had left.  In the end a climb, a walk and a great deal of sweat got him to another lift and eventually we were able to meet up again.  I have to say it was pretty scary for a while; I didn’t know where he was or if he had injured himself.

But, what has this all got to do with your business?

Well, my son and I had a plan; to ski down a particular run to a particular lift.  It would take around five minutes.  But, because another route looked interesting, and knowing nothing about where the slope went (we didn’t look at our piste map), we ended up with a lot of hard work, a fair amount of worry (on both our parts) and almost an hour of lost time.  In truth my son did a fair amount of skiing but I just had to wait; but you get what I mean.  And often we do the same in business.  We get distracted from our goal, forget what our original plan was, and get bogged down in stuff that we should never have been doing in the first place.  Often this results in wasting a great deal of time and money along the way.  And, worse still, sometimes our goals are lost for ever!

So, my question for you.  When did you last review your goals?  How often do you review your goals? Weekly?  Monthly?  Ever?

For real success I believe that you should, on a daily basis, ensure that whatever it is that you are doing is moving you closer to your goal and not further away.  This isn’t to say that your goals can’t change, shouldn’t change, but you certainly shouldn’t just let your business run along not knowing where it is going.