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Jeffreynya
10-19-2011, 06:35 PM
I was curious how you Part timers answer the phone? Are you free to answer it while at work or do you need to have them leave a message? Do you have someone answer for you while you are at work? I want to figure out the best way to do it. I could have my Wife answer, but I am sure she will get asked questions that she will not be able to answer as she is not a tech.

Slaters Kustum Machines
10-19-2011, 06:40 PM
I have to have clients leave messages and I make call backs during lunch or after work. I only have residential clients so it's not a huge problem, yet not ideal.

mraikes
10-19-2011, 07:09 PM
Although I'm usually free to answer my phone at my FTJ, I often let calls go to voice mail and then respond to them in a timely fashion.

It rarely causes problems, even with new prospects (except those speed-dialing multiple repair guys) and never with existing customers.

I could ask my wife answer the phone, but as you note - it's not really worth it. Stressful for her and often unproductive for the caller.

ithinkcomputers
10-19-2011, 08:07 PM
i feel my phone vibrating at work and disappear for 5 minutes. write it all down rough on a bit of paper and stick it in my pocket. if i happen to be on break or lunch, i just openly take the call

Encrypted Existence
10-19-2011, 09:09 PM
I was curious how you Part timers answer the phone? Are you free to answer it while at work or do you need to have them leave a message? Do you have someone answer for you while you are at work? I want to figure out the best way to do it. I could have my Wife answer, but I am sure she will get asked questions that she will not be able to answer as she is not a tech.

I usually have to let the call go to voicemail because I have customers (FTJ) around. If by chance there is no one in the store I will step out and take the call.

nesrinamb
10-20-2011, 05:06 PM
Well I personally have to let the calls go since i cant be on the phone. But I'm getting an answering service that can at least take name and number so that i can call back. The answering service I'm going to use cost about $60 per month but its worth it as it makes you seem more professional.

Tony_Scarpelli
10-20-2011, 06:06 PM
Although I have been full time IT for 18 years, when I am under employed, don't have enough backup help I often have double duty of answering phones while on site with another client. I have all my retail calls go through my store where I have a manager but I have certain ads the I measure by advertising my cell.

I have found that new callers will keep calling competitors through the yellow pages until they get a human that tells them that they will fix their problem.

I never, ever, ever rely on answering machines, answering services, or other voice big black holes. OK, once or twice while at the dentist I couldn't talk because of the drugs.

I figure it costs me nearly $100 per new customer contact, in advertising, it is absolutely crazy not to treat each caller with the value that they cost me.

True examples:
When an electric fuse popped on the house and couldn't be reset, I took off work, and called four electricians out of the phone book. Three of them were answering services that couldn't even give me a price or approximate time they could get to me. Since I felt in limbo until I got this resolved I kept calling until I knew how this was going to turn out. By the last guy, he said I will be there after 3pm today, minimum price is $80 plus a new fuse, can't say much more until I see if there is additional damage. OK, now I can go to work. I told him to call me 30 minutes before he went to my house so that I could meet him there.

Who do you think I hired? That's right, the guy who answered the phone. Could I have found someone cheaper? Maybe but I had to go make money in my business so I really just needed to talk to the service provider to arrange a meet up so my house could get fixed and I can get on with my life. BTW some of the guys I left messages with didn't call me for a few days.

Why didn't I wait for the first 3 to call me back? I assumed they were busy, or unprofessional or even out of business. In any case I had no obligation to wait nor desire to work with them. Two called me back 3-4 hrs later and I told them I resolved the issue thanks for calling.

Another story:
I had a water backup in my basement. I guess it happens about every 1-2 years, tree roots grow into my sewer lines. So I called about 9 companies before I reached three guys who could give me an estimate and time when they could respond. I called each one after another until I talked to a guy that I liked over the phone. Then I went to work and knew he would call me when he was done so I can pay him over the phone. Once I talked to him, I knew I didn't have to worry about my problem anymore and I could go make money.

3rd example:
I got up one day and my refrigerator had a water puddle under it. The power was on but everything was melting in the freezer. So i called out of the phone book. I went down the line big ads and small ads until I reached a guy's wife who said they could get to me within 2-4 hrs and the basic rates but it could be more depending on what the tech finds. The people who I left a message with called back but again I had called until I talked to someone who could solve my problem and give me some estimate of the range of possible costs and I had an appointment setup. OK I am using the term appointment loosely.

I'd prefer to talk to a mans wife or daughter as I know that is a real guy like me trying to make his way int he world. I guess that goes along way with me. The fact that she is not an electrician nor plumber doesn't bother me at all.
I am weird I guess, I actually prefer doing business with a man and his family. Something very honest about that. I feel like they would treat me the way I want to be treated.

I believe that not answering every single phone call is heresy in our business. I think there is a great deal of delusion going on about how hard customers will try to reach "you" or "your company" when there are forty or fifty more competitors on google, yp.com, yellow pages, and they have a pressing need.

OK you got a job. That is great. If your boss will fire you because you answer your phone 3-4 times a day, then you really need to formalize your prices, structure, procedures so that your wife can answer the phone and give minimal information to the customer. Then she can call you at work or text message you to call the customers number. Even at work, you can go to the bathroom or smoke break and call the customer back within 10 minutes.

There was a time when I had my son, later my girlfriend answer the phones and it slowly worked into her actually receiving checking in and out computers and going on site to pickup computers and finally becoming a tech. It took 3 years for her to feel comfortable with diag, repair a laptop but now she handles every sort and manner of workstation/laptop support, data backups and minimal data recovery techniques. She can walk someone through setting up a wireless router over the phone, (which I don't let her do as we don't get paid for that service). She is better than 90% of the techs that I have ever had. Out of the last 30 employees I have had she is absolutely better than every one of them in volume of work, customer service, clients loving her. Its funny sometimes when I am in the store the customers ask to talk to her. That is an about face from when she started helping out.

I am over weight and 55 years old so its nice to know she can run the company if I find myself hospitalized for some unknown reason for a period of more than a few weeks.

OK guys, how you run your business is your affairs but I think you are kidding yourself if you think its not costing you in customers to not answer every phone call.

Every phone call can be that next $120 job or the next small network that gets you $13,000 income over the next few months. Ignore these veins of gold at your own risk.

Tony_Scarpelli
10-20-2011, 06:09 PM
Well I personally have to let the calls go since i cant be on the phone. But I'm getting an answering service that can at least take name and number so that i can call back. The answering service I'm going to use cost about $60 per month but its worth it as it makes you seem more professional.

I'd put my phone on vibrate and leave class if it was a phone number that was likely a customer. (my mom or brother I'd recognize and just call them back between classes)

As I recall the college professors would tolerate a minimum amount of interruption especially when they understand you are self employed and paying your own way through school.

nesrinamb
10-20-2011, 06:29 PM
yes your right the college professors do allow for you to take a quick leave.

Personally I thought an answering service would be good but I was also thinking live person that can at least tell them cost and when I'm going to be available.

Tony_Scarpelli
10-20-2011, 06:46 PM
yes your right the college professors do allow for you to take a quick leave.

Personally I thought an answering service would be good but I was also thinking live person that can at least tell them cost and when I'm going to be available.

I took morning classes so I was always available after 1130. That might work if the answer service say something like this "basic charge is $xx for the first hour and our tech can call you at 1130 when is is finished with his current customer."

This is what we say when I am taking time with my grand daughter and someone asks that I call them. I usually handle the data recovery and more complex network calls myself.

I still prefer to talk calls than use an answering service.

Jeffreynya
10-20-2011, 08:36 PM
I understand what you're saying Tony, would love to be able to answer every call that comes in. My current situation makes it hard. I can probably answer most calls, but answering the phone with my company name with a bunch of other employees sitting around me may not be the best idea.

I can have my wife di it, but she runs her own business and does not always have time to just take calls for me. I won't do a answer service.

Right now my business phone is my personal Cell phone. This makes it hard as well cause not everyone that calls is looking for my services. I would love to get another number that I can just forward to my phone so I know when this number comes it its a likely customer and I can make a fast exit to talk with them. In the end that is probably the best solution. Anyone know a good place to get a extra number without the 40 bucks a month bill the phone company charges?

Slaters Kustum Machines
10-20-2011, 08:39 PM
I use Google Voice, which is free.

Jeffreynya
10-20-2011, 08:51 PM
Google voice still ports your number to theres or uses your own number correct? If so its not the solution I am looking for. I want my cell phone to show me the same number everytime anyone calls my business line, in order to do this I am pretty sure I need to have a forward from that number.

Slaters Kustum Machines
10-20-2011, 08:56 PM
Google voice shows the callers number when they call, and you can choose to use Google voice to make calls or use your own cell number when calling.


So you are correct that it would be a different incoming number for each person calling.

Tony_Scarpelli
10-20-2011, 11:02 PM
I understand what you're saying Tony, would love to be able to answer every call that comes in. My current situation makes it hard. I can probably answer most calls, but answering the phone with my company name with a bunch of other employees sitting around me may not be the best idea.

I'd say just answer it with your name at work. People calling you, probably know they are calling you so I don't think they think it strange if you just say Hi This is Tony Scarpelli, unless you are not Tony Scarpelli :).

I worked for a company that ran three very different businesses off one phone number and the answer the phone "management office."

I am helping my manager start a photography business and she answers her cell phone "This is Maria." Both my customers and hers know her so it is not a conflict. New customers accept it pretty good so long as you can start giving them answers to their problems right away.

Often when On site I answer the phone and just say "Can I call you back in 20 minutes?" and then do that.

T-moblie used to give a 3rd phone on my family plan for $9.99 per month. I got it and just gave it to my 12 year old who was in jr high.

atlanticjim
10-22-2011, 01:46 PM
Google voice still ports your number to theres or uses your own number correct? If so its not the solution I am looking for. I want my cell phone to show me the same number everytime anyone calls my business line, in order to do this I am pretty sure I need to have a forward from that number.

I have Google voice and it works perfectly when set up correctly. If I get a call on my business line, it says "Business Line" and I answer as I would for the business. It even has a distinctive ring on my iPhone. If I miss the call I get a voicemail promptly, which converts to a text message in a few seconds and lands on my phone. I also have the iPhone Google Voice app which keeps track of all my business calls. Can even use it to text.

1aComputerServices
10-22-2011, 02:28 PM
Typically I will have them leave a message since my FTJ is actually spent on the phone anyway. I will usually call back on break/lunch or after work.

Google Voice android app works nicely for handling this scenario.