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100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams

Quality Insider

Cell Phones and Voice Mail Can Drive Customers Away

Use them with prudence

Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - 06:00

Telephone communication is thought of as the greatest technological advancement of the 20th century. It can certainly be credited with nearly every facet of progress that commerce has ever enjoyed. What’s not to like? We are all addicted to this user-friendly medium. However, there are times when a telephone can cause a customer to walk away and not want to do business with you. Following are some corrective measures to keep your customers from “hanging up” on your efforts to serve them.

Limit your cell phone use

Chances are you own a cell phone and use it to communicate while you are out and about in the community. Cell phones are convenient on a personal level and useful for those who travel on business.

However, despite the cell phone’s advantages, it also has disadvantages that can affect the way a customer perceives you. If you are talking or text messaging on a cell phone in clear view of customers, you can give the impression that you are more involved with your telephone conversation than your job. Be aware of reaching for your cell phone and don’t do it.

Especially in the retail and hospitality industries, cell phone use should be prohibited, just as it would be in a classroom or house of worship. Annoying or loud ring tones can also disrupt a business environment. Anything that takes focus away from the customer’s experience should be used only with carefully considered discretion.

Discuss the appropriate use of cell phones with your employer. You may find that cell phones are not even permitted on the sales floor or around customers. Better yet, take the initiative and don’t use your cell phone at all. Let your employers know that your cell phone is off when you are around customers and watch how much more value they place on you as an employee.

Put a professional message on your voice mail

Many customer prospects are lost simply because the service representative has left a nonbusiness-sounding message on their voice mail. Whether you run a home-based business, a retail store, or another business where a telephone is used, customers expect to hear a business professional on your end of the line.

If a business has a boring, generic, or plain vanilla message, customers will not only be unsure about leaving a message, they will also question the wisdom of doing business with you. Customers want to be reassured that they have reached a professional business where they can get expert service.

Put yourself in their shoes. You call a law firm, a retail store, or a wedding photographer, and all you hear is “Hey, I’m not here right now. Leave your name and number after the beep.” What do you think after you hear a message like that? Chances are you dial other numbers until you hear a real person or a message recorded in a more professional manner.

Getting voice mail is annoying enough. Getting a message that doesn’t reflect a professional image is a slam-dunk negative experience that will cost you business.

When customers enter a business environment, in person or by phone, they expect it to reflect a businesslike atmosphere. Isn’t that what we all want for our customers? Know the right time to communicate with or without a phone.

Next week I will give you tips that will help you set an example of leadership.


About The Author

100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams’s picture

100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams

For more than 20 years, Larry Williams has been a respected public speaker, journalist, and business entrepreneur. He is recognized and awarded for his business professionalism, community service, and national involvement in a very high-profile child abduction case. Through his leadership, educational offerings, and public speaking, Larry Williams has set a standard for customer service that is recognized and emulated regionally and nationally; and he “tells it like it is” in his book, Customer Service A to Z.