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Customer service and marketing behaviors should always inspire trust and confidence, not fear and trepidation.


Poor customer service sometimes starts with the phone.

Referrals are probably the best sales leads because the prospects or potential customers have already been prequalified. They have sought the recommendation of someone they trust.

Because people buy from people they know and trust, earning the sale is much easier when it comes to referrals. You do not have to overcome any sales objections about you or your company.

Yet, businesses still blow it when it comes to handling these golden opportunities to increase sales. In talking with a friend, he relayed this situation.

After his annual check-up with his cardiologist, he asked his trusted doctor who might help him with a carpal tunnel injury.

The doctor referred him to a local specialist, and then the automated message nightmare began.

He called the specialist’s office only to be told from a recording, “Your call is important to us, please leave a message.”

You know the drill. He then received a callback about 30 minutes later from a real live person and was told to call another number.

Again, the drill repeated itself, an automatic phone message and those words again, “your call is important to us…”

Again, he received a call back a couple of hours later or so and was told he would be transferred to the appointment person.

Finally, a real live person, he thought. Sorry, another voice mail with, “Your call is important to us, please leave a message.”

Finally by late in the day, after leaving several voice mails, he was able to schedule the appointment.

The Value of Time

What is wrong with this picture? And more importantly, what message is this customer service process sending?

As a colleague of mine, Paul McCord said, “The first contact is a lie.”

The doctor’s message, “Your call is important to us,” is a lie. It is not important, because the doctor’s office did not answer the phone with a human being.

Then to compound that lie, more lies were told. Not to mention the implication that the prospect’s time is of less value than the doctor’s office staff.

Here is a prime example of why so many businesses remain what I call “pocket poor.”

Scheduling an appointment spanned the course of almost 8 hours.

If this is how an organization treats a referral, I wonder how it treats non-referrals?

According to research conducted by Pitney Bowes in 2010, sales leads get cold in 15 minutes.

In the case of my friend, his trust in his doctor is what kept him from seeking another solution. His behavior is the exception, not the norm.

Inspire Trust and Confidence

Customer service and marketing behaviors should always inspire trust and confidence, not fear and trepidation.

Making your sales leads, especially those golden referrals, jump through hoops and voice mails to connect with you is just plain stupid. There is no other word to describe this madness other than stupidity.

If you want to increase sales, simplify your process. Remove all barriers preventing you from connecting with your prospects. Remember, people buy from people, not robots.

About the author

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith has over 25 years in sales. Her true joy is selling and…

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