This spring has been busy. Steady demand for business communication skills has found me clicking from webinar to webinar, delivering 30-minute, one-hour and sometimes half-day sessions on both sales and customer service. In addition, I’ve enjoyed enlightening, inspiring and productive hours as a coach to both loyal teams and individuals.
All this busy-ness has resulted in something a bit sad for “The Phone Lady” … I haven’t been able to answer my phone!
The result? I’ve encountered a behavior that is silently undermining the success of both sales and customer service professionals. It is not only annoying but it also displays a lack of respect and highlights the self-serving nature of these phone calls.
What is this behavior? Why is it so damaging? And how can you fix or avoid it?
My most stunning example of this behavior involves one of Canada’s largest financial companies. In the past 60 days, I have received at least 20 calls from this company during regular business hours but … no one has ever left a message.
This actually prompted me to change my incoming voicemail to add, “Please, do leave a message“, in the hopes they would listen and act on my request. No luck.
While it is true that many individuals, both professionally and personally, have abandoned voicemail or are checking it much less frequently, it remains a valid and important element of excellent business communication.
Because the sound of our voices – the sound of your voice – contains information. This information cannot be transferred to words on a screen, i.e. email or text.
With your voice, you can communicate your energy, enthusiasm and genuine interest in the person you are calling. You can begin the process of building a relationship. You can share your pride in your work, and your desire to share both information and provide value.
When you hang up, without saying a word, you instantly convey a selfish motive.
In my example, the calls were not, and never were, about me and what I might need. They were 100% about someone trying to complete a task, make a sale, or reach a goal. Acknowledging me as a valuable prospect/customer was not considered.
Trust was destroyed with each hang-up and the chances of building a relationship with me are … minimal.
I do understand that sometimes when making outbound calls, you don’t want to encourage the person to call back. Perhaps you are going to be unavailable for the remainder of the day, or you want to make sure you have specific information in front of you during the conversation. These reasons are valid … but you still need to leave a message. You need to use your voice.
Here are examples of what you can say:
- “Hi Mary Jane, this is so-and-so from such-and-such. Sorry I’ve missed you. No need to call me back. I’ll try you again later this week.”
- “Hi Mary Jane, this is so-and-so from such-and-such. I have a quick question for you. I can be difficult to reach so rather than create phone tag, I’ll call you again later this week. Thanks.”
- “Hi Mary Jane, this is so-and-so from such-and-such. Sorry I’ve missed you. I have a quick question for you so am going to take the liberty of sending you an email. It will include a link to my calendar so you can book our 10-minute conversation at a time that works best with your schedule.”
The sound of your voice is a powerful communication tool. It both builds and supports trust and relationships. Don’t ever silence it!
Looking for more information or training on today’s essential business communication skills? Get in touch.