Have you ever sent an email through the “contact us” button on a website, only to wait days – or weeks – for a response? Has it become the norm now, to call a business, and instead of actually reaching a person, we’re forced to navigate through a tedious phone system menu (or our call simply goes to voicemail)?
Yes, email and voicemail make a lot of things more convenient. But the ability to reach a real human being has actually become harder. It seems like it ought to be common business practice: answer the phone; return emails. But it’s surprising how rare it has become.
Don’t fall into the trap of becoming complacent about your incoming phone calls and emails. Here are three steps you can take to make sure technology isn’t blocking your customers and future customers from getting through to your wellness business:
1. Use human beings to answer the phone
In a perfect business world, you’ve got a front desk receptionist or other staffer who can answer your phone during normal business hours–including lunch. Sure, a few calls will have to go to voicemail. But most calls should be answered.
This is ideal because it eliminates the frustration of phone tag for you and your callers, the person calling gets an immediate answer, and it saves you time because there’s no calls to return later. Plus, it makes a good impression.
But if your budget or other reasons don’t allow that and you rely on voicemail much of the time, then you need to arrange call-back times throughout the day. At midday, return every call you received that morning. At the end of the day, return each call that you missed that afternoon. Do this more often if you can. Just be sure that you have designated call-back intervals and stick to them.
Caution – don’t give out your personal cell phone number to customers unless you mean it. Giving out your personal cell number is like telling your customers you can be reached outside of business hours. I know a yoga studio owner who gives out her cell phone number. And yet she ignores business calls when she’s on vacation or out of pocket. So…what’s the point? Unless you are really okay with customers calling anytime (and you will answer and return calls in a timely manner) just have the clients call the business line. It’s less confusing and it’s a better way to manage expectations.
2. Reply to emails in a timely fashion
Which email account do you have linked to your “contact us” button on your wellness or fitness website? Whose job is it to respond to emails received into that account? Don’t leave this up to chance.
If it’s your job, choose AT LEAST two times during the day when you will respond to emails and stick to the schedule. If there’s more than one staff member who can answer company emails, assign time frames or days to different people. You need to ensure that no one is assuming that the other person is taking care of it. That’s how balls get dropped.
3. When you’re on the phone, give them your best service
When folks call your wellness business, there’s a reason. Find out what it is. Don’t automatically refer them to your website. Of course, at some point during the call, you may want to let them know about all the useful information they can find on your website. But give them YOUR personal attention NOW, while THEY’RE spending time on YOU. Even if the exact information they are asking about is on your site, tell them anyhow.
These methods may take more time, but this is the personal touch that makes a lasting and positive impression. If they’re new to your business, it can be a credibility maker or breaker (if you can’t return a call or email in a timely manner, what other services at your gym are slipping through the cracks?).
And think about this: if a potential new client is shopping around for a new fitness center, and your competitor answers their phone and you don’t, who do you think is more likely to win their business?
~Maureen Burke, The Radial Group