“Are You Cutting The Business Performance Lifeline To Your Small Business?”

Your telephone is your lifeline in small business performance. You already know (or at least suspect) that telephone customer service technique is critical to success. It’s your first, all-important contact with your customer and it had better be right.

Do you use an automatic phone answering system? Do you employ a “gatekeeper” phone receptionist whose job is to screen all callers?

Then, this article is especially for you. Ask yourself if you’re cutting yourself off from a world of new business or ideas? Think about it from your own experience first:

When was the last time you placed
a phone call and got . . .

  1. The sophisticated voice mail system. The electronic voice says, “No one is available to help you right now. If you know the number of the party you’re calling, dial that number now. If you don’t know the number, push ONE.”

    ONE answers, “That person is not available now, push THREE, etc.”, until you come back around to the electronic voice that again says, “Push ONE”.

    You can’t reach anybody at all. So . . . you hang up.

  2. The gatekeeper. This person is dedicated to protecting the boss (and anybody else in the place) from wasting their valuable time on you.

    You’re the caller. Suppose you want to acquire a product or service from the company? Do you need some important information? Do you want to voice a complaint (which could help the company mend its ways and do a better job)?

    You quickly get frazzled, tired, disgusted . . . take your pick.

    Has this happened to you? Would you wish it on your dog? Are you wishing it on your own customers?

Fun ways to deal with

Jim Throneberry, president of JET Advertising, Colorado Springs, Colorado, frequently addresses audiences on the subject of telephone etiquette.

He takes them through a set of fun answers he devised when he encounters a particularly obnoxious gatekeeper. Jim knows it’s a problem for nearly all of us because his audience roars in approval.

He says, “Gatekeepers typically ask a few questions. Sometimes – in frustration or to prove a point – I give the following answers”:

Gatekeeper: Who shall I say is calling?
Reply: Me.
Gatekeeper: Can you spell that?
Reply: Yes, I can (and stops speaking).
Gatekeeper: Who are you with?
Reply: I’m with me.
Gatekeeper: And what do you want?
Reply: I want to talk to Mr. Jones.
Gatekeeper: And where are you from? (Translation: What company do you represent?)
Reply: Colorado Springs.
Gatekeeper: What is the nature of your call?
Reply: To talk to Mr. Jones.
Gatekeeper: May I tell him why you are calling?
Reply: Yes, you may (and stops speaking).
Gatekeeper: Will he know what this is in regard to?
Reply: Only if he’s a mind reader.
Gatekeeper: And this is in regarding? (Or: And this is pertaining to?)
Reply: Yes, it is.
Gatekeeper: Mr. Jones is not available. Is there someone else you would like to talk to?
Reply: Sure, who else is there?
Gatekeeper: And what was your name?
Reply: Well, it still is Throneberry, but I have been thinking about changing it.

You listen to this leftover from the Inquisition and decide you need a gatekeeper. Okay. What should a gatekeeper say?

Jim’s advice to all is simple
(and courteous)

Answer the phone as follows: “Good morning. XYZ Company. This is Jim.”

After your caller tells you whom or what he wants, pick a common sense answer:

  • “Mr. Jones is on the phone (in a meeting, etc.) May I have him call you?”

  • “Is there any way I can help?”

  • “May I leave him a message?”

  • “May I tell him who’s calling?”

Jim Throneberry’s firm provides advertising and marketing services to small and midsized companies. You can reach him at JET Advertising, 719-597-7272, Colorado Springs.

Want to bring an end to problems like these? Here’s the first thing you should do in customer service technique.

Call yourself up

Before your memories of past bad experiences overwhelm you and you get indignant about the discourtesy of others, CALL YOUR OWN COMPANY!

Discover what indignities your company visits on callers.

How do your people answer the phone? Are they shielding you from interruptions? Giving callers the third degree? Simply no help to callers?

For we who perpetrate this injustice on the world, I recommend these books and training on telephone courtesy, customer service, and telephone selling skills.

Ideas on telephone courtesy
& technique

I\'ll Get Back to You: 156 Ways to Get People to Return Your Calls and Other Helpful Sales TipsI’ll Get Back To You by Robert L. Shook keeps popping up on people’s desks all over the country. Great ideas. Click on the cover to see this book.


Great Customer Service on the Telephone (Worksmart Series)This superb book by Kristin Anderson, Great Customer Service On The Telephone, comes well recommended. Click on the cover to check it out.

Telephone selling skills

For telephone selling skills, one of the nation’s masters is a fellow named Art Sobszak. I met Art years ago and, in just one hour session, learned more about common sense telephone selling than in all my years before.

Check out this book: How to Sell More, in Less Time, With No Rejection: Using Common Sense Telephone Techniques, Volume 2. Art gets five stars out of five in ratings on Amazon.com. One reviewer mentioned he is particularly impressed that none of Art’s methods are hard sell.

You can reach Art online when you Click Here.

How is your small business different from competitors? Your first contact establishes that difference in telephone greetings and etiquette. It can make the difference between profit and loss in your customer service technique.

Telephone training for your associates will click you up one big notch in business performance.

I wish you well.

Rod Rademacher
Maverick Strategy
Phone: 785-783-7756 or
E-mail us here

What could you do with a cache of winning secrets that help you build your own unique advertising idea? Proven do-it-now, do-it-yourself, marketing strategies – advertising ideas –merchandising – personal selling, planning, budgeting and customer service technique for your brick & mortar business? Check in to our Table of Contents here.

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