People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
Recently, I had the opportunity to help out CEDIA with membership renewal calls in my role as its membership chair. Expecting not to get to the decision makers, I prepared some talking points. What I found, however, was no answer at all when I made many of the calls. What if I was calling to place an order or to set up an estimate for a brand-new system? In the membership arena, we often hear that members are looking for leads, but what good is a lead if you don’t answer the call?
This got me thinking of the obvious everyday things we often glance over in business that make significant differences. Are you guilty of any?
The Phone: Who answers the phone when it rings? Is it voicemail? Is it a human? One of our manufacturers told me today that when the recession hit they let go of their front-of-house person, and it was one of the biggest mistakes the company ever made. They heard complaints, and clients were frustrated. Needless to say, they brought back the receptionist.
For my company, having a friendly voice has been a huge step forward. Not only is it a great way to set the first impression, but she can often handle small issues, so my time can be better spent. She also is a great gatekeeper saving both time and money from those trying to solicit.
The Website: Everyone should have a website—it is a “living” document describing your business. It can be crazy simple, and should be clean. Beyond the pictures on my site, I struggled with wether or not to add product lines we carry. I have always heard that it is bad to lead someone off your website to another. However, many manufacturers build microsites for you to use online, free of charge. Beyond that, for those who may know what products they want, seeing the manufacturer listed there might be the difference of whether they call your or not. (If they do, please refer to the above, and answer your phone!)
The Human: How do you greet a client for the first time? Do you shake hands well? (I'm not joking; this is important!) Do you look a client in the eye? Do you treat them with respect? Do you treat the wife with respect as well? One of my favorite lines is by Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." Live by this.
The Stuff: Beyond you and your voice, take a step back and look at your next line on the front. If you have a showroom, what is the first thing clients see when they drive up? How about when they walk in the door? What is the shape of your vehicle? What do your installers wear? Over the years, we have had a lot of conversations on what employees should wear. Whether that is a uniform or jeans and T-shirt, techs should be clean and respectful in both appearances and inside client's home. Are you more likely to purchase that top-of-the-line TV from someone who's clean cut or someone rumpled who leaves oil spots on your driveway?
The Issues: I do not want to deal with difficult people either. I want to put them on the bottom of the list or shove the issue under the rug, but nipping the problem in the bud will help long term. You won’t have the client spreading any bad words, and you will get issues off your plate, so you are ready for the next opportunity. We are in a bit of a pickle in this day and age—right or wrong, some people will complain. A few weeks ago we completed a job, and knowing this client was “particular,” we made sure the wife signed off on the job once completed. Later that same day she emailed informing us that the system was beautiful. When the husband got home, he called to complain. I explained to him that we had the sign-off and did the install to her specifications, and made no decisions without her consent.
It did not matter; he felt the system was wrong, so we went back this week when he was home. Resolving his issues took about an hour—a small trade-off compared to the possibility of him spreading a lot of bad word of mouth.
It is easy to get so bogged down in the everyday craziness of running a business that we can quickly lose sight of simple fixes to everyday issues. I implore you to take a step back and get out of your own way.