I recently read an article in HPM magazine about voicemail costing plumber’s trade.
The piece was all about how potential customers calls are being missed (33%) and 69% of callers don’t leave a voicemail message.
Based on a survey of 300 “micro businesses” carried out by “mobile answering service” Moneypenny, the statistics tell a familiar story.
When you are too busy to take calls you lose business, it’s a catch 22.
How often do you turn your phone off though?
Sole traders certainly wouldn’t hesitate to take calls on a job, it’s far too important, and taking a couple of minute out of a job just to at least answer a call from another customer is much better for customer service.
The key is to be as discoverable as possible and available, so here are some tips on making yourself more reachable.
Twitter is still a great place to network and offers your customers, friends and colleagues a platform to communicate, share ideas and questions straight from their phones.
It may not be the first place ALL of your customers go to find you but it occupies its own place on the internet.
- Make sure your twitter handle is the same as your company
- Create a banner that contains your phone number, logo and the area you trade in
- Put all of your contact details in the “about” section
- Invite people to contact you on twitter if they can’t get through to your phone (you could “pin” a tweet to the top of your feed or even include that in the about section.
A Facebook business page is a lot like having a website that serves as a customer service “hub”. Customers can send you messages, chat live and leave reviews.
You can let people know when you are available through the Page messenger and, provided you respond quickly, Facebook will give you a positive rating for answering messages from followers.
- Setup a Facebook business page if you haven’t got one already. We have some advice on how to do this here
- Download the Facebook Pages app for your phone and turn on notifications. Don’t worry, you won’t be bombarded but you may get the odd message from time to time.
- Advertise your services on Facebook. You can spend a small amount of money on promoting your business or your phone number to local people.
- Make sure all of your details are present and correct and let people know when you are taking calls or messages. If you are busy, tell people that they can leave you a message on your Facebook page and you will respond as soon as possible.
In 2016 it’s hard to find someone that doesn’t have an email address but, surprisingly, some tradespeople still manage without one.
If you don’t have one you are clearly missing out on a valuable mode of communication.
If you do have one you need to make sure you are not ignoring it.
- Make sure you clear you keep your inbox organised. The last thing you want is thousands of unopened email notifications, it can lead to you missing the important emails.
- Create an email signature with your full contact details and social media links. You can either be a bit flashy and include your logo if you know how, or keep it simple and smart with text.
- Be clear, if you stop responding and answering emails at a certain time of day, tell people . You can include this on your email signature, on your website or on social media, but the important thing is to let people know when you will be available to respond be it asap or in working hours.
Listings and directory sites
Sites like Yell, Cylex and Thompson still get searched. It’s hard to look beyond google (see our guide to setting up a google+ page for an added boost to your discoverability) but there are still a lot of directories out there.
It can be worth an hour or two going through them and adding your business details but it serves as another avenue of contact and you can also give details on when you are available to be contacted.
Nexuswebsites have compiled a pretty good list of directory websites – Click here
Being a local business online will help you thrive but the most effective way to provide great customer service and capture a customer is by being available.
Answering calls and emails promptly will win business and strengthen your relationship with your customers.