September 02, 2008
No Returns or Exchanges
As I write this on a Tuesday afternoon, I am awaiting return phone calls from three people. One is a noteseller who contacted me late last week to get a bid. He told me his price expectation, and my number is right there. I actually got him on the phone last Thursday, albeit briefly, when he told me he needed to finish up another call and would call me right back. He didn’t. Five hours later, I called him again and left a message on his voice-mail. I called again Friday, and again this morning, each time leaving a more detailed message on why I wanted to speak with him. At what point do I become a pest? Considering the current state of our communication (or lack thereof), should I even care?
What does someone stand to gain by not returning phone calls? OK, more time to attend to “more important” things. But what’s more important than transacting potential new business? Obviously I don’t ask my customers why they won’t call me back, but I did pose the question to a few of my colleagues who have gotten a (ahem) reputation for having ‘nocallbackitis’. Here are some common responses I’ve gotten when asking why they aren’t more consistent in returning their calls.
“I’m too busy to return my phone calls.” No worries…eventually everyone will stop calling and you’ll have PLENTY of spare time once you’ve lost all your customers.
“If it’s really important, they’ll call back.” Not necessarily…I never assume my potential customers won't simply call up one of my competitors if I don't call them back. Just like that, I'd be forgotten as quickly as they found me.
“I would never ignore a really important call.” Who makes that determination? What if the caller, somebody you’ve never heard of, was actually referred to you by an existing customer/client? Referrals are gold, and you’re going to treat them like scrap metal? Not only do you slam the door on potential new business, but you’ve likely jeopardized your relationship with the referring party.
Early in my career, I had a meeting with one of the company’s attorneys in his office. He had just returned from a week’s vacation, and his inbox was about two feet high with documents, files, and assorted papers. The pile was directly between us, restricting our view of each other, and his trash can sat directly below the pile. In one sweeping motion with his left arm, he pushed everything in that inbox into the trash can below. He noticed my shocked gaze and said, “If there’s a fire, it’ll find me.”
I will never forget that. In his position, he could apparently do something like that and get away with it. As a business owner, I prefer to keep the fires out of my office and where they belong...in the fireplace.
Make it a great day...and if you call me and have to leave a message, I promise I'll call you back!
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