Hello? Do you answer your phone?

Several years ago our basement flooded on a Sunday. Calling through the phone book, the first place that had a human answer the phone got the job. I left messages in voice mail boxes, but kept calling competing damage restoration companies until a human answered and provided me with some assurance that they could help. There were companies spending thousands of dollars on Yellow Pages ads, but not answering the phone. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Those companies CAN respond quickly. Many of them called me back within a few hours to offer their immediate assistance, but it was too late.

Here’s Geek Brigade’s strategy for grabbing every single prospect phone call and converting them to a customer before they call our competitors:

1.) Every time someone calls Geek Brigade, all phones in the office ring, as well as all cell phones owned by technicians in the company. Every time! 24/7! The caller ID specifically let’s us know it’s someone calling Geek Brigade. We try to answer it. The caller only hears “ring tones”. We could play a message for them, or an auto attendant that invites them to hear our dial by name directory, but we’ve found prospects like to hear the phone “ringing”.

2.) That’s our first line of defense up there. After that, we want to play a message letting the caller know we really are a 24/7 operation, but we need a little more time to get to them. This message says something to the effect of: “Thanks for calling Geek Brigade, this line is answered 24/7. If you’re calling about XXXX, press one. If you’re calling about XXXX press two. If you’re calling about XXXX, press 3. If this is an emergency, press 4 to have a technician dispatched to your location.”

Each key press is routed differently, based on time of day, urgency, etc. The caller hears ring tones. Remember, that’s what they want to hear. In almost all instances, all our phones ring again, but so does the phone number of our answering service. We program our system to show different caller IDs based on what they pressed. If it’s an emergency, for example, we know… The answering service is our last resort. If after all this time (30-40 seconds) we can’t get to the phone, the answering service takes over and answers “Thanks for calling Geek Brigade, how can I help you?”. They take the message, assure the caller we’re working on it, then sends the message to us via SMS Text and Email. They charge us less than a buck to do that. LESS THAN A BUCK!

After all the time, effort, energy and money we spend getting the phone to ring, this is well worth it. Do you have a similar strategy? I would love to hear about it and bounce ideas off you. If you need help designing a system like this for your business, I’m glad to help with that too.