1. Take your time answering the phone. Any more than two rings, and I think a) you’re not there; b) you don’t know how to run your business if you can’t answer the phone quickly; c) you don’t value my time; or d) all of the above. Any more than two to three rings, and I’m outta here. (Another good reason to use two rings as your standard: Most of your competitors use three rings as their benchmark, so go one better than them—in everything.)
2. When you answer the phone, don’t thank me for calling. No one says “thanks” to me anymore. Not my kids for their allowances. Not my boss for my hard work. Not my dog for buying him that fancy, expensive gourmet food. Not a soul. And now you don’t value my call enough to say “Thank you for calling”? Buh-bye.
3. Don’t ask my name. Bob Seger said it best: “I feel like a number.” Everywhere I go these days, people assign me numbers—the bank, the deli, the car wash. When I call most companies I do business with, I have to enter a 16-digit account number just to talk to an automated attendant. I just want to be me!
4. Don’t use my name. I tell ya, I don’t get any respect. I can’t hear my name enough. I love the sound of it. It makes me think I’m important—especially if you use “Mr.” before it, and a lot. Humor me a little here, or I’ll find someone who will.
5. Tell me your troubles, dear. I don’t care if you can’t collect from that guy who rents unit 215, your kids are sick, you’re having a bad morning, your boss didn’t get the paychecks today, etc. My problems make yours look like a day at the country club. All I know is I need to rent some space, I need to do it now, and as much as I’d love to talk to you (OK, not really), I can’t help you with your problems.
6. Don’t tell me the name of your company when you answer. I’ve already called two (or was it three?) of your competitors this morning. I just lifted my finger off your ad in the Yellow Pages, and now I can’t remember your name. I don’t want you to think I’m dumb, so I won’t ask you to repeat it to me. Help me out here, just a little.
7. Tell me all about yourself. Oh yeah, I think it’s really cool that you have climate-controlled, basement-level, sound-proof storage space in 14 different sizes, but I’m not going to be using the unit to make Eskimo Pies while jamming to Metallica. I want to hear about what I need. Listen to me, ask me questions. Then tell me how much we have in common. Go ahead. Make my day.
8. Where’s our relationship going? I like you, and I’d like to take this to the next level, but I don’t know what you want. Do you want to just chat about your features and benefits, or do you really want my business? Do you have a fear of commitment? You’ve heard stories about the prettiest girl in school who never got invited to the prom. They were true. If you actually ask me to rent space from you, you might be amazed to find I’ll say “Yes!” If you don’t ask, you’ll always think about what might have been.
9. Assume I’m “only one call.” You might be having a bad moment and decide I’m not that important. You get plenty of calls, right? The phone rings all the time. You just ran a new ad, and that’s going to generate a lot of new business. Sure, I’m only one call. But I work with 25 people. And I have 75 friends. My church averages 750 attendees at each service. My kids’ sports games attract dozens of people. I like to tell people when I’m not treated well somewhere. So does everybody else.
10. Just hang up. You don’t have to thank me for calling—you already did that, right? I want you to thank me. I want you to thank me. You don’t have a second chance to make a last impression. If you don’t thank me, I’m gone. Down the road. Next, please.
Ron Welty is the president of Perrysburg, Ohio-based IntelliShop, a national provider of mystery-shopping and other customer-experience measurement services throughout the United States. For more information, call 877.894.6349; visit www.intelli-shop.com.