You have to love the arm-chair quarterback. It’s so much easier to sit in front of the TV, or at the bar, and yell at the players with what they should have done on the last play. As we all know it’s much harder when you’re the one on the field.
Do you know what it’s like to do business with you? Have you any idea how easy or hard it is to connect with you? How long does it take to get a return phone call from you? Do you know how you sound on the phone? Do you answer each call like it’s your most important customer calling? Or, do you not even think about how you sound when the phone rings?
How about with email? Does it take you longer to answer an email than a phone voice message? Do you have a plan for responding to emails outside of normal business hours or when you’re on a job? Or, do you have an auto responder that tells brides you won’t get back to them for days?
That first impression is a strong one. If you look at the time of day and day of the week that she’s contacting you, you’ll probably find that many are at work. It’s not likely that she’ll call you during work hours. If you’ve been lucky enough to get a bride to call you , make sure you put forward the best possible impression. Make everyone who calls feel like the most important call of the day. Respect her time if she calls during the day. She may be on a break or her lunch hour. Show her that you understand that she’s busy and that you care about her needs and her time.
Why won’t she call me?
More likely these days, brides are emailing you. Your benchmark for responding to an email should be at least the same as with a voice mail. How long do you wait to respond to a voice message? With email you can respond outside of normal business hours, so you really can get back to her sooner than with a voice message in many cases.
Write your email responses in a conversational tone so it sounds like you’re “talking” to her. Many wedding pros aren’t yet comfortable communicating via email, so if you are, you have an edge. Try to get an appointment, or a phone call, but if she’s resisting continue the conversation via email. I know a lot of wedding pros who do a large percentage of their communicating via email, and they get the appointments and the sales.
Are you consistent in your communication skills? Are you more responsive before the sale than after the sale? You may think you are, but how does it appear to the brides? A lot of how you’re perceived is based upon the expectations of your customers. Have you let her know when to expect a response? If you haven’t then you’ll likely find that her expectation and yours are very different. You understand that it’s wedding season and you’re really busy, but does she? Does she care? Why should she care? She’s a customer and she has a question or other need. That’s all she knows and really, that’s all she should have to know.
When you’re the customer…
If you were the customer would you expect a response sooner than you’re providing one? You don’t want to feel like a second class citizen when you’re the customer, so make sure you’re not making your customers, and prospects, feel that way. I know you don’t intend to make them feel that way, but that’s my point. Do you realize the way you’re being perceived by customers and prospects? Most of us don’t. We all know what really good customer service looks like when we’re the customer, but we rarely realize when we provide less than the best customer service.
When we, at The Knot, were creating our new Local Client Relations Manager team I wanted to get this point across. So I had everyone who came to the meeting send me two examples of really good, and really bad, customer service that they personally received as customers. We shared them with each other and it was really enlightening. The really good examples were pretty amazing and the really bad ones were frightening. You should try this with your team. Have everyone write down two examples of each and share them at a meeting.
Then we started sharing ideas about how we could be providing a better customer experience. Some were little things, like having only one phone number and email address for our customer service instead of many, and some were bigger, like our My Account dashboard, which required major development.
What can you do today?
What can you be doing, as a team, even if you’re a team of one, to provide a better customer experience? Can you make it easier to contact you on your website? Sure you can, that’s easy. Just put your contact information on every page with a relevant call to action. I’m not talking a complete overhaul to your site (unless of course it needs it). Just look at each page and ask yourself “if I were the customer, would I know how to contact me from this page, without leaving it or clicking a link?”
How does your voice mail message sound? Does your voice sound friendly and inviting? What about your email signature? Does it include your company name, your phone number, maybe your normal business hours? In other words, does it add any value to the conversation? Is it better than your competition? You’re being judged at every stage. Are you setting the bar high, making it hard for your competitors to keep up…. or are you the one lagging behind?
Start paying better attention when you call other wedding pros, in your industry and in other categories, even totally unrelated businesses outside the wedding industry. Who do you call that impresses you with their professionalism? Who leaves you scratching your head, wondering how they stay in business? Which one are you? Strive to be the one that leads the way. Now, what changes are you going to make this week to make it easier to do business with you?