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The Easiest Way To Shut Down Your Business

Updated on June 15, 2011

PHONE SKILLS ARE CRUCIAL

Let me ask you a serious question. "Do you want your business to be successful?" I am aiming my question at all self-employed men and women who are reading this valuable piece of information.

I am about to reveal the easiest way that either you, or someone you pay to be your receptionist, can be the solitary cause of your business going on the "slippery slope," then eventually shutting the doors--leaving you, the business owner scratching his or her head in confusion as to how this tragic event happened to you.

The answer is simple and has been right under your nose everyday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. And you haven't taken the time to just do some personal on-the-job inspecting to see how your receptionist is answering your phone. DO NOT scoff at this. I am speaking from personal experience from a time when I worked for a successful radio station in my county and I know the value of good phone skills. I know that your business is tough, manly and fearsome in the marketplace, but still, the person you have answering your phone is arguably THE most important employee on your payroll--and not for their ability to file paperwork, page you when your wife or best client calls you or even ordering your lunch. It's how she sounds when she picks up the phone. Have you ever really thought about this from a potential-customer's standpoint? I think you should.

Here is an example of a good, professional-sounding receptionist:

(phone rings once) "Good morning. This is Acme Steel and Welding. How are you today?" See how nice that went? This good receptionist with keen phone skills made the potential-customer or your oldest customer feel appreciated and welcome when she answered the phone. This is how YOUR receptionist should always answer the phone if you want you business to thrive.

Here is an example of a receptionist with poor phone skills:

(phone rings three times) "Yeah, this is Acme Steel or something. Whataya want?" Did you hear the sudden 'click' of the would-be, multi-million-dollar client's phone being hung up? That can and does happen in today's business sector. Thanks to this receptionist with a poor attitude and lack-luster phone skills, the man she works for just lost a huge account and no amount of calling him back to apologize will make him rethink his decision.

Your company is always judged instantly by the new customer who is seeking information on doing business with you, and your company is being subconsciously-judged by the old reliable customer who just called to invite you to lunch. Sorry, no lunch for you or new account for your business today.

And did you notice that the good receptionist answered the phone on the first ring and the bad receptionist answered after three rings? By answering on the first ring, she has told the new and old customer that your business is sharp, on the ball, and knows the score. A business that anyone would be proud to partner with, but the receptionist who was painting her nails, (another company disaster), answered after three rings just told the new or old customer that your company really doesn't care about new or old business and that sharp-tongue she used sealed the NO DEAL for you today.

Do the professional thing, Mr. and Mrs. Business Person. Install a Quality Control in your company who governs the quality of your product from the first phone call to your receptionist to the production of the product to shipping. It's all important, but keep in mind, it CAN start or stop with the receptionist.

If you have a receptionist with severely-bad phone skills and attitude, do not fire her right away, but council her with a professional female phone skills motivator. She just might turn into a great receptionist. Firing her for her bad phone skills might reflect bad on your company image and by counseling her with a reliable phone skills coach might mold her into the best employee you have on payroll.

HERE ARE SOME MORE "BAD THINGS" THAT RECEPTIONISTS MAY BE DOING THAT CAN LOSE BUSINESS FOR YOU:

  • Smacking gum while talking to the customer. Or even worse, eating a snack at her desk. Both these items are tacky and deadly to your company's survival rate. It says to the customer on the phone, that he or she is interrupting your receptionist from chewing her gum--possibly wasting company time or not respecting the customer with trying to talk between bites of her foot long chili dog.
  • Using words like, "Huh," "Uh, huh," "yeah, man," and "Like," talk about annoying. Any customer, new or old, would be having fits of frustration if they called your company and had to listen to a receptionist who only knew THESE words to communicate for your company. FACT: Your receptionist is a KEY member of your staff. Make sure the is performing at her utmost professional level and tone when she is manning the phones.
  • Yelling at customers for no reason. This can be fatal to your production. And word-of-mouth by the offended customer can spread like wildfire. Train your receptionist to leave her personal opinion at home. Never disagree with any customer--even if they ARE wrong. Be tactful, discreet and courteous. These three traits will insure that your company stands a great chance to increase its productivity and stay in business for many years.
  • Including personal issues into business conversations. This has disaster written all over it. No professional receptionist worth her work contact, will work her love life or lack thereof, into any business call that comes to your office. That is just not the way it's done. No professional businesswoman or man, wants to her how your receptionist's boyfriend dumped her for a nice-looking female bartender across town. Nothing says, "I don't care about myself or my job," better than a receptionist yakking to a new or old customer about her misadventures in 'love land'.

This information is totally without charge to you, Mr. or Mrs. Business Person. I care that much about your business. Why not take some inventory of how your company does business starting with your receptionist. Sit in her office or lobby and listen to her answer the phone. It will not take too long for you to make up your mind whether or not she is representing your company the right way or not. And remember, listen as a new customer, not her boss. This will give you a new perspective.

A phone with a multi-line system is a great tool in the hands of a well-trained professional receptionist with super-phone skills, but in the hands of a receptionist with a non-caring attitude and poor phone skills can be like giving a toddler a sharp knife--a dangerous situation.

And if you do use this information, please share it with your fellow businessmen or women who have receptionists who think that no one is listening to them yak their way to the unemployment line by helping to shut the doors to your business.

Good luck and have a peaceful work week. Oh, if you do have a great receptionist, why not tell her how much she is appreciated or even buy her a lunch one day. This way, you look like a million dollars and she, out of loyalty and gratitude, will work even harder to make your business make the Fortune 500 Club.

It could happen.

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    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 6 years ago from USA

      I've had people that answered the phone with "Yeah, what do you want?" I didn't do business with them again.

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