What’s your customers’ first impression?

In my other life as a sales person, I make a lot of calls, and I do mean A LOT. We’re not quite talking call centre figures here but suffice to say that if it weren’t for the fact that my VOIP phone gives me free calls, the bill would be enough to reduce me to tears (yes grown men can cry, so deal with it!)

What regularly astounds me is the greeting that I receive on so many of these calls – a scripted message read by a member of staff with all the enthusiasm of a Post It Note. You know the sort – “Thank you for calling, your call is important to us, press 1 for sales, 2 for marketing, 3 for accounts, 4 for the warehouse, 5 to have your ears sent to you in a jiffy bag, 6 to hear these options again or zero for the operator and let’s face it, you probably did that as soon as we answered”.

And you would have, wouldn’t you? People don’t like talking to machines – it just isn’t natural. Granted, we’re all thrilled that we can now ask our smartphone directions to the nearest McDonalds by just talking to it, but that’s a request for information – not a conversation, which is why you called in the first place.

The trouble is that it’s not that enthusiastic employee’s fault. Chances are that the company will have installed a telephone system and simply had to have a greeting recorded because that’s the way that it’s programmed. Do they consider using the services of a professional voice over at this point? Unlikely, because voiceovers are really expensive and it’s probably overkill anyway, right?

WRONG! Of course wrong, and on several levels too.

First, let’s address the issue of cost. Many artists will have a rate card for telephone greetings which don’t even run into triple figures, it will be small change for your accounts department and you may even be able to pay them out of petty cash! Granted, some are more expensive than others, but before you dismiss the idea altogether because of cost, shouldn’t you ask them how much they charge first?

Second, the issue of it being thought of as overkill. It really isn’t. Back when I worked in an office, my employers had me record the telephone greeting (obviously) and I received numerous compliments from customers at how nice it was to be greeted by a professional voice. You see? By the time they had reached the sales department, they were already engaged because a simple yet pleasant and professional greeting had put a smile on their face.

So, what impression are your customers getting when they call you? It might have been a while since you called your own company to check, but that small investment of less than sixty seconds could well be the difference between your next caller browsing and actually buying.