Take a look at this Gary Vaynerchuk video and let me know in the comments if you would have been one of the people standing up. (Caution: explicit language; it wouldn’t be Gary V if he didn’t cuss.)
I have to admit that I have a strong dislike for the phone. I get anxiety when my phone rings. Yeah, really. It’s because I don’t know what the other person wants, and I have no time to prepare. Plus, I don’t know if this is going to be a long conversation or a short conversation.
Think about this when you are calling your clients. When you call them, they are likely right in the middle of something. So how do you honor and protect their time and yours?
Quite simply, setting expectations from the beginning will make working with your clients so much easier. Since your agent has already been in communication with the client, ask her if the clients respond to text. If they do, then you know you can send them a simple text message that says something like, “I need 10 minutes of your time to discuss your file. Can I call you at 2:00 today?”
How awesome is that! Now you and the client have an appointment. You have control of your day. You’ve set the expectation that the call will take 10 minutes and if they want to go off-topic, you can interrupt and tell them you have another call in 2 minutes and would they like to set up another time to talk? They probably won’t set up another time if they don’t have legitimate questions or concerns.
And, *gasp* what if you stopped answering your phone? I’m not suggesting you don’t provide good customer service. Good customer service is all about making promises and keeping them right? I bet there’s not a single place in any of your marketing materials or templated emails that says, “We always answer the phone when you call us.”
(By the way, I’ve seen the agents who say they always answer the phone when their clients call, and in my opinion, there’s no way to scale that. Those agents spend their days reacting to their clients’ needs rather than proactively setting his their schedule and will find a ceiling to the amount of business they can do in any given week, month, or year.)
So how about you start time blocking and commit to following it? In your outgoing voicemail message, you can set expectations by saying, “The best way to reach me is to send a text message to this same number. Messages left on this voicemail will be returned Monday through Friday between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM and again between 3:00 PM and 4:00 PM.” Now all you have to do is return voice and text messages on your time.
What are your thoughts about this? If you’re not already doing this, would you be willing to test drive it for two weeks to see if it works for you? Let me know in the comments.