Running your own business comes with a lot of different elements to keep track of. One of the more annoying but necessary aspects is your phone. It’s your line to your customers, which makes it vital to your continued success, but sometimes it seems like it never rings for the right reasons, and we’re not talking about telemarketing. Clients often call for problems you can’t fix, or just to prod you for a price listing, which nobody likes.
We asked our experts what their most common phone calls were, and what calls they’d like to get more often. They had a lot to say, especially when it comes to customers who ask the wrong questions! Below are just a few of the different types of calls business owners receive–and some they wish would come less often.
Our experts universally agreed that comparison shoppers were the most frequent undesired calls. As expert Greg Chick explains, many potential clients will call saying,
“I am calling for a free estimate”, or calling several plumbers…. This is not the best for anyone, because it lowers the bar on profit and rendered service.”
Customers shopping for the lowest price often do not care about the quality of the job they are getting, which can indicate that they don’t appreciate the value of a job well done. This can be really frustrating for business owners.
However, as expert Tammy reminds us,
“It may be mildly annoying, but it’s pretty standard.”
Comparison shopping is pretty normal in this day and age, and most customers do it. All you can do is offer the best work you can, and hope the client is satisfied and keeps you in mind the next time they have a problem.
Of course, the most cherished kind of call comes from long-standing, loyal customers. These are clients who already know and appreciate the work you do, so you don’t have to worry about winning them over. Expert Tammy elaborates:
“The calls we most love to receive are those from existing customers. It’s fantastic when someone has been so happy with their plumbing services that they now come to us for expert advice.”
But you can only get these kinds of clients by first fielding calls from them when they are comparison shopping, as expert Mark Puglisi reminds:
“We do have dozens of the same calls everyday, and clients feel better that they are not alone, but with others facing the same challenges. …we see it as an opportunity and a tool to fix those challenges.”
If you want repeat customers, you have to work up to it by making sure first-time customers are satisfied, and that means fielding those annoying cold calls.
Of course, even repeat customers can sometimes be a problem. For example, repeat customers are more likely to call for advice on something small that doesn’t require professional help. Expert Kahshanna Evans has plenty of experience with this:
“Problems are sometimes real and other times perceived. By offering too much of a sympathetic ear it may nurture bad habits and encourage clients to complain rather than fix the problem at its root or focus on a solution (preferably one outside of the box).”
Helping customers is important, but it’s equally important to know where to draw the line between a professional relationship and an overly-dependent one. Customers should feel comfortable calling you with their problems, but not all of them.
One last common type of call home experts receive are the ones about problems they can’t fix. Often, customers with home issues are just looking for expert opinions, and they don’t really know who to turn to. Expert Joseph Molluso is quite familiar with this kind of call:
“Whether the questions irritate us or not, they are reaching out for help. I always try to answer my customers’ questions. If I don’t know, or know someone who does, I try to steer the customer into that direction. It’s too easy to become annoyed.”
Even if a customer is calling about a problem outside your expertise, you can still help them by re-directing the call. They will remember how helpful you are, and next time they have a problem that you can solve, you’ll come to mind.
As for calls experts wish they’d get more often? Joseph Molluso has a request:
“I think it’s easy for well run businesses to receive compliments after the service was performed. Constructive criticisms are something I always welcome but rarely receive, so I wish we would get more phone calls about things the customer thinks we can do differently. No one is perfect, and mistakes are opportunity for lessons and growth!”