The trick question – what city are you in?
We’ve all heard of the TV show from the 1970’s — The Million Dollar Man. He can jump twenty feet in the air, put his first through a brick wall, and run faster than a car. But, what about a million dollar call? I call outsourcing companies daily, and am astounded that not a single one handles themselves completely professionally over the phone. There are always aspects of professional etiquette that even the highest class of outsourcers miss. People answer the phone saying, “Hello” instead of stating their name for one. At other companies they transfer you the minute you ask a tricky question such as, “What city is your company in?” That question is too difficult for the caliber of employees that they hire. After you get transfered, you get put on hold for long periods of time, or disconnected. In the best case scenario you talk to some other moron who hasn’t a clue how to answer your PhD level question and requests to transfer you to yet another imbecile. The transferring never ends as there are no intelligent people who are available at many of the larger companies.
How much business do you lose per year?
As an outsourcing company, you should be aware that high profile prospective customers could call you at any time. If they talk to someone who is an idiot, or doesn’t have proper phone etiquette, you could lose that prospect. If they are a customer and get put on hold too many times, you could very easily lose that customer for good. My question is, what is the cost of having good phone service, and what is the cost of having bad phone service? If you lose a 1 million dollar contract because someone untrained answered your phone, the cost of your bad worker is the profit on that 1 million which could easily be $50,000. I’m sure that the cost of hiring someone decent to answer your phone who has half a brain would be a lot less than $50,000 in India or the Philippines. In real life, you probably lose a lot of smaller clients who might have jobs for US$20,000 per year. In the course of a year, you might lose several million in revenue from new prospective clients due to your bad phone staff.
Use a contact form
My suggestion is that if you can’t have someone good answer your phone, don’t have a phone number. Use a contact form on your website. It is hard to have someone answering calls eight hours a day, or 24 hours if you cater to overseas clients. It is easier to have them fill out a form, and much more respectable too. It is better to not have a phone number rather than having a numskull answer your phone. At 123outsource.net, we call all companies on our directory. If they have unacceptable people answering their phones, we will remove them from the directory without a second thought. However, if they have a contact form and no phone number, we will keep them at the bottom of the list which is mildly better than being removed.
Don’t allow certain people to answer the phone.
Have only designated people answer your phone. In India, most people (99.9%) lack proper phone manners. Have an American or British friend train six of your staff members to answer the phone and don’t let anyone else touch the phone without a substantial penalty. Additionally, train your phone staff to answer basic questions about your company so they don’t have to transfer the call. They should know simple things like what your company does, where they are located, what they charge for various services, etc. You can write all of this information down on a cheat sheet to make the task simpler.