What does it take to turn a usually calm and collected person to an annoyed and agitated beast? A phone call. Well to be exact, an unanswered phone call.
When we were younger, my parents ran their business from our home. My sister and I were given very specific instructions on what to do when the phone rings. Within the third ring, we must answer it and tell the person on the other end of the line to hold while we get our parents.
Since then, I'm extremely aware of phones ringing around me and expect it being answered quickly. I even have the same expectation for people whom I call. But some people just love to see the world burn by taking their sweet time picking up the call.
I know this obsession of mine is unhealthy and I should not expect the same of others. But looking back, I'm glad my parents did what they did. They taught us the importance of answering the phone quickly and this have served us well in our careers.
Here to serve
As kids, it felt like a game to us, trying to see who can get to the phone first. But later, my parents explained to us why it so crucial for us to pick up the phone as soon as possible.
Our parents ran a small wholesale business and unlike our competitors, we don't have the capital nor the manpower to compete on their terms. Instead, we make up for it by providing the best customer experience we can.
My dad understood the importance of building a good relationship with his clients. He and my mom would handle everything personally and their clients love that. They understood they are here to serve and put the needs of their customers first.
I've adopted this as one of the most important principle for my team. This heart to serve is crucial to our success as a team. We treat others in our company the same way we treat our customers.
Put yourselves in their shoes, or your ear on their phone
Another reason to answer the phone as soon as you can is pretty simple. What would you prefer when you are calling someone? Basically, do what you expect of others, yourself.
If you are running a business, the last thing you want to do is emulate the call centres of big corporations. Nobody likes to be kept on the line for a long time, listening to annoying promotions, trying to get to an actual person on the other end.
We all love businesses that picks up the phone right away. We want to talk to a person to solve our problem as soon as possible. We don’t want to talk to a machine and press numbers on our phones.
This applies beyond phone calls too. Facebook encourages Page Owners to respond quickly to messages. They will only show the response rate and time badge if the page is responsive enough.
Every call is important
At the end of the day, it depends on how important you think each phone call is. I’ve been trained since young that each call is a potential business opportunity. It’s those phone calls that put my sisters and I through college and university.
Today, most of us prefer to send messages to each other instead of picking up the phone. It’s more convenient and efficient. But regardless of the communication channels used, we need to be mindful on how to respond to them in a timely manner.
So the next time your phone rings, please do me and yourself a favour. Pick it up quickly. It could very well change someone’s life for the better.