How to Avoid Mobile Phone Interruptions, Stay Sane, Improve Your Productivity Without Losing A Single Customer – Even Make More Business
And you thought I will tell you to switch the damn thing off? Well, that is a small part of it and there is a whole system behind it that can make this really work for you and your business.
I myself have been in the situation that I feel naked without my mobile phone. I carry it with me all the time, even when I go on a date with my wife. I am then always alert to the mobile phone ringing and interrupt anything I am doing and rush to find a quite corner somewhere or maybe out on the street in the cold and talk to someone wanting to know if they should go for a radio advert opportunity – the rep is right there with him and he needs to make a decision now – it’s a great, never-to-be-repeated deal. Grrrrr.
This is mad, it is rude and quite frankly dumb. And the worst part is that I have even given instructions to all of my clients on how to get hold of me and that I am available 24 hours a day days a week. My thinking has been that I get more business and customers will get better value from me and stay with me longer and buy more from me. If you are reading this, I bet that’s what you are thinking. “It’s my business tool and it keeps me in touch with my valuable customers”. In fact, you might even have call minder, or 2 cell phones so that more people can get hold of you. This is a classic builder and tradie problem and it’s a big one because instead of helping to grow your business, it is actually holding you back because you can only answer that many calls at a time and then you are starting to offer a lousy service to your customers because:
- You are on another call and customers get frustrated because they can’t get hold of you the way they used to
- When you are out of reach customers get really frustrated
- Many times they can’t understand you or you can’t understand your customers because the reception is poor or you are driving
- You forget to get back to customers because you got their call while driving and could not write any details down or you scribble notes on all sorts of pieces of paper and you don’t have one place where you can track for tasks.
In fact, when some of these things above occur, you have reached your business limit and customers will jump ship. New ones will come on board and others will leave just as quick. Your client retention will drop and you will be spending more and more time finding new clients and you are wondering what business is all about. This sucks and the good news is that you can do something about it.
Like Attracts Like
The other really interesting thing is that if you have a certain behavior, you will attract people with a similar behavior. So if you are doing the mobile phone madness thing, you will find that your customers will be using their mobile phone in a similar way. Just because most of YOUR customers are behaving in a certain way does not mean that everyone out there is needing or wanting this. As an example if you are a person wanting to get stuff for free or as cheap as possible and you don’t pay your bills on time and not treat your suppliers with the highest respect, you will find that the customers attracted to you will behave in the same way – wanting things for free or cheap and not pay you on time. So, if you what the situation you are in right now to change, there ONLY place to start is with yourself. This is probably the most important message here. Look into that mirror and think if you like what you see.
Here is a little sanity test for you:
- I always have my mobile phone with me. I’d feel uncomfortable without it
- My mobile phone is always on and within reach, even at night, during weekends
- When I go on holidays, my mobile phone comes with me and I answer it whenever it rings
- I get interrupted all the time
- I just can’t concentrate and work on a project (say a tender preparation) for any length of time
- If I don’t get called, I start calling people myself
- Customers want to deal with me. There is no point of them talking to my staff because I am the one who they really need and want to talk to
1 tick = you are doing OK, 3 ticks = good time to do something about it, more than 3 ticks = insanity, I am not even sure if this stuff is enough for you. You should work talk to a coach to get things improved.
OK, if you are willing to make changes that are good for you and really good for your business then read on…
What do Customers Actually Want?
Firstly, what your customers really want is a good service and that means that their problem gets solved in an efficient and consistent manner. More than anything customers value a consistent experience. If you are promising a specific service or product, customers will value always getting that service. This is what franchises are built on and you’d know the value of a franchise compared to a similar independent business. Why do you think McDonald’s is doing so well? It’s not that they have the best product – people know exactly what they get every time and everywhere you do.
Let me get this clear, you just cannot provide a reliable and consistent service with your mobile phone interrupting you all the time. And if you do now, you will not be able to do it when you grow beyond a certain size. You might also have to change your customer. You can do this over time by introducing new rules on how to do business with you.
Here’s How To Provide Excellent Service Without Doing The Mobile Phone Thing
You need to develop a simple system:
Either your system works or you do.
- You may have a person in the office that can answer the phone. You need to sit with that person and explain that you want to change things a bit and how it’s going to work. Make a simple flow chart of how the phone needs to be answered and how messages are to be dealt with. Your cell phone will be off most of the time and more calls will be coming to the office.
- Have a script of how the phone is answered. Ask your coach for some advice on this.
- Track every call coming in. Have a new lead tracking form. This can be combined with the script.
- Have a special script describing exactly what customer can expect when they NEED to get hold of you. Note: Often this is only a habit and not really the case.
- Write down a list of every issue that cannot be dealt with immediately by the person answering the phone. Go through this list regularly and pick the most frequently asked question and prepare a solution for it and train the person how to deal with it without you having to do it. In a short time, you should have a list of maybe 10 or 20 issues with suitable solutions.
- If you do not have an office person, you can consider using a Phone Answer Service. You will have to find a good company and find out exactly how they work so that you can take optimum advantage of their services. By freeing yourself from constant interruptions, you can focus on getting the ideal customers, grow your business and once you can afford it hire a Personal Assistant / Receptionist to answer your company’s phone.
- Record a message on your Mobile Phone: “Thanks for calling [Business Name]. I am currently unavailable so please send me a text message and I will call you back today either at 11am or 6pm from Mondays to Friday. If you have any urgent matter, please call our office on 123 4567. Thank You”
- Switch your phone off or into the “do not disturb” mode.
- Set an alarm for the specified times to make sure you take a break. Listen to the messages and get back to the people promptly.
You will notice a rapid change in behavior. At first, people will be a little perplexed and maybe leave you a silly message. Do not go back where you came from. If you do what you have promised, everything will be fine and you will actually be offering a better service. After about 2 weeks, most of your customers have been trained to phone the office.
Do something about it. Do it NOW. If you wait, it will never happen and in a years time, you will be in exactly the same situation as you in now.