Your phone and email are chutzpah marketing tools
What is chutzpah marketing Pronounced huts•pah
When I was a teenager I had a boss named Vic. Vic had a love affair with his phone. At least once a day he would blurt out, “My phone is directly connected to my customers’ wallets.” Then he would send out the tow truck to pick up someone’s disabled vehicle.
Vic owned a gas station in the posh part of town. He amassed a great fortune from this single gas station. While his competitors pumped gas, and occasionally worked on someone’s car, Vic became the go to guy for the people of this upper crust neighborhood.
Vic’s gas station gave full service. When a car pulled up, an attendant, wearing a clean uniform, pumped the gas and checked the fluids. At the end of each pumping, the attendant handed the driver a business card and said, “If you have a car problem, call Vic.”
Vic’s gas station had the highest gas prices and the most polite and helpful attendants. But Vic didn’t make his fortune by pumping gas, he made it by answering the phone. If any of his customers had a car problem, Vic fixed the problem. He had two service bays at the gas station, and another four bays about ten minutes away. It was impressive how many cars Vic’s mechanics (mostly cousins) worked on.
Vic taught me that people are willing to pay for service, and that the phone is a chutzpah marketing tool.
I agree with Vic, the phone is directly connected to your customer’s wallet. However, I also add email to this statement. So, for me, the phone and email are my direct lines to potential and established customers. If I use this technology wisely, I serve my customers well. Well served customers keep using your services, and like to tell other people about your services.
Penelope, a fellow entrepreneur, had invited me to her office to discuss the marketing of her company.
“Excuse me Phil,” Penelope said as she reached for the ringing phone.
Then she did something I didn’t expect. She reached around back and disconnected the phone line. “They’ll call back if it’s important,” she said.
“I’m sorry, if this is a bad time…” I started.
“No, not at all,” she interrupted. “I hate that damn phone. Some days, it just drives me nuts.”
This is a common reality for many professionals. The phone feels like a tightening noose, squeezing the life out of them. Professionals often speak of their dislike for the phone and the people who call them. This is a sign of job stress and potential job burnout.
In this chapter, we will discuss how to use your phone and email to transmit and gather information: how to make your phone and email a chutzpah tool. We will discuss how to tame the phone monster so that it works for you. Hopefully, by the end of this chapter, you will be in love with your phone and email again.
The phone and Internet makes the world seem small.
A few months after the release of my parenting book, I got a phone call from a woman thanking me for it. As it turned out the caller was very concerned that she may be spoiling her children and was looking for information to sooth her worries.
After she explained her situation, second marriage to a man who works constantly along with three children from their combined three marriages, I offered to make her an appointment so we could continue exploring her dilemma. She apologized for not being able to come to my office, “I need to be in Brussels next week and I have no plans to come to the States.”
As it turned out, she purchased my book from Amazon UK and was presently on her yacht off the coast of France.
At the end of the phone call she thanked me again for my book and assured me that she was giving a copy to the au pair.
Your phone and email are amazing chutzpah tools. They allow you to have easy and inexpensive contact with the world. Unfortunately, the phone and email are not respected by most companies. Thus, these ubiquitous devices often become linked in a chain of despair.
Your phone and email are amazing chutzpah tools–if they are controlled. The good news is that this monster is easy to control.
“Should I use a phone machine or an answering service?” It is probably the most common phone question I get from small company owners. The answer is, it depends on your company.
If you are an agency with sixteen architects, you will need an answering service and an amazingly well organized secretarial pool. If you are a single architect, you may need a service, but an answering machine may work just as well. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. The three “Cs”— cost, control, and competence need to be weighed out.
Answering services are expensive, but they position your company as “professional” in most areas of the country. Most entrepreneurs who I have talked to about answering services complain about the cost and incompetence. It is hard to keep control over the tone of whoever answers your phone at a service. I have heard horror stories about surly service and issues of privacy.
The problem with an answering machine is that it may seem impersonal to some callers. However, it has the advantage of being secure and private.
One nice thing about being a small company is that you will probably not need an answering service or a secretary.
For the last twenty years, I have used an answering machine (actually two) and no secretary. I still recall the cost twenty-one years ago. My secretary cost $60,000 with benefits and taxes, and my answering service was $2,400. These figures are twenty years old, but my rough calculation indicates that I have saved, not adding inflation, $1,248,000.00! I did the math twice; I saved over one million dollars over the last twenty years.
Please allow me to explain my system. It consists of three telephone lines and two answering machines. In my office I have two telephone lines. One is my office number that is printed on everything we hand out. This line has an answering machine on it. The second phone line is the back line (back of the office). The back line is used for all outgoing calls so as not to tie up the main phone line. The back line number is not given out. The third line is in my home den. The den line has an answering machine. The den phone number is not given out.
During my work day, the office line rings regularly, and the machine captures the message. Most of the time I let the machine answer the phone for me. At the end of my work day, I transfer the phone to my den. This is done by signing up and using call forwarding, a service of the phone company. (It is explained in the front of your local phone book).
The next workday, before I leave home, I un-forward my calls. This call forward/un-forward is a very easy process. Anyone who calls always uses the same “office” number. Only I know where I am. Last summer, my family was evacuated due to forest fires. Over the hectic week I call forwarded my office phone to my cell phone in the evenings, allowing me to take care of family matters and work matters simultaneously. (Many of my patients were also evacuated and making myself available to them prevented a lot of heartache for them.)
When I am away from the office for extended periods, I can easily check my messages from anywhere in the world by calling into my machine and using my code number to access it.
When you call my office you hear the calm voice of my wife, Geri:
Thank you for calling the offices of Dr. Philip Copitch. Please leave a message, including your name and phone number after the beep. Be sure to speak slowly and calmly, and Dr. Copitch will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you.
I get teased regularly because of the words “slowly and calmly”. When other professionals call they tend to talk very slowly and in monotone for the first few seconds of their message. “This… is… Bob… Kelsow… calling… from… Sacred… Heart... Hospital…”
The admonition, “slowly and calmly,” helps excited or nervous callers leave an understandable message. Without this cue, callers tend to speed up when they are leaving their name and phone number, making the last four digits of their number come out in a gibbering whirl.
I check my messages between sessions and once or twice per evening. I only return emergency or urgent calls as soon as I get them. More on this later in this chapter.
It is important for you to have clear guidelines concerning how phone calls are returned.
When shopping for a phone answering machine, you want one that does digital recording. No tapes. Look for a machine with at least a 45 minute message capture so you are not missing calls. But, understand it will take you 45 minutes to listen to it if it is full.
I triage messages throughout the workday, between appointments. If I am on target, I get about 10 minutes between patients. My goal is to log the patient I just saw into the computer and check calls during that time. However, bathroom runs or food can often be the priority.
I do not have a phone in my treatment areas. When I am with a patient, that person or family gets my undivided attention.
I want to tell you something that you may be shocked to hear me say. I DO NOT MULTITASK. I understand the human brain and respect it by not multitasking complicated tasks. (See Multitasking And Brain Research, this chapter.)
I compartmentalize. When I am with a patient, I am 100% focused on their needs. When I return calls or check email, I do just that. One at a time for an allotted period of time. I stay focused on my task and get it done quickly, and hopefully well. As I sit here right now writing, I have no distractions, by design. The phone ringer is off, the machine will get my calls. The email program is closed. I will check my phone and email messages during my next writing break, in about 14 minutes. Unless there is an emergency, I will take 10 minutes to check messages and 15 minutes to walk and refresh myself. Then, back to writing for two more hours. By focusing clearly on one important task at a time, I get much accomplished.
I have seen skilled adults perform at about 25 percent efficiency because of unnecessary interruptions. One entrepreneur I worked with hated the idea when I suggested no Instant Messaging (IMing) in her office. “But what if my husband or the kids want to get hold of me!” she protested.
“You’ll call them back or email them later,” I said.
“But what if there is an emergency,” she said sadly.
“Isn’t that a red herring?” I asked. “Emergencies are very rare. What you are doing is adding hours to your average non-emergency day.”
I continued, “When you are at work you have to leave the family distractions at the door.”
The truth was that she didn’t want to leave the family distractions at the door. She liked “being there” for her kids.
A graduate student I worked with spent 6-8 hours per day working at his computer on his dissertation. On most days he produced not a single page. When he removed IM and a game called War Craft, his dissertation was completed in four months and three days. What I found so interesting was that he was IMing and playing War Craft with other grad students who were “working” on their dissertations.
I tend to check my phone and email as part of opening up shop in the morning. I check my phone messages between customers, and my email midday. I schedule 30 minutes to deal with my email because I conduct a lot of business through email. At the end of my day, I check my phone and email for the last time.
By Philip Copitch, Ph.D. Hutzpah Press (2008)
When it comes to the common understanding of the human brain, the public is confused. At least once a month someone tells me, “You only use 10 percent of your brain.” That’s simply wrong. We use all of our brain.
Weekly, a teenager in my office tells me that they are great at multitasking. This same teen tends to be a solid “D” student.
The reality is that the brain cannot multitask. The brain can only focus on one activity at a time. This may seem contrary to your experience. I once saw a clown juggle while playing a harmonica. You are reading, and breathing, and digesting, and scanning your environment for new sounds. All that is brain multitasking. But, the brain cannot pay attention to two things at one time. For example, do homework and watch TV. The TV may be good background noise for you to study by, but if you know what is going on, on the TV, you are watching TV. If you know what is going on with your homework, you are doing homework. The learning part of your brain is an amazing single task organ.
When a person is “multitasking” the brain takes a few hundredths of a second to switch to the next task that it then focuses on. Each refocusing takes a few hundredths of a second. That is very fast, but it has its drawbacks. If the refocusing uses different parts of the brain, then each switch also means that the brain needs to re-access the rules for dealing with each task. The part of your brain that you use for math is different than the part used for feelings. Often, it takes minutes to get back up to speed when switching between intensive tasks. If this isn’t inconvenient enough, your memory also gets affected.
One evening, my wife and I were cooking dinner together and having a very pleasant conversation. Our five-year old son ran into the kitchen and interrupted us. He excitedly exclaimed, “On Tuesdays you get mashed potatoes and aardvarks!” He laughed in our general direction and ran off.
We looked at each other and attempted to go back to our pleasant conversation. Neither of us could recall what we had been talking about. We both knew we were enjoying the conversation, but never remembered what we were talking about. Our son’s forced refocusing of our attention wiped out both of our working (short-term) memories. (Kids have that effect on their parents.)
If you are switching between known tasks, like washing the dishes, listening to the radio, and watching the kids do their homework in the next room; you can easily switch focus from task to task. But, if you are trying to learn something new, like how to calculate mortgage amortization while listening to the radio, and watching the kids do their homework in the next room, you’re setting yourself up to do each poorly. Also, you are likely to become short tempered.
I recommend that you deal with the phone and email in batches. I find that I can get a lot done in 15 minutes. All things being equal, I like to use email. So, whenever possible, I use it. When it comes to email the clock is not that controlling. I can respond at 2 P.M. or 2 A.M. without bothering anyone. I tend to be in my office late, so I often have an issue of “when do people go to bed?”
My rule of thumb is, if it needs to be dealt with in the next 2 minutes-call. If it needs to be done today-email.
I have noticed that when someone calls, the reason for the call is the third thing they say.
1. “Hi Dr. Phil this is Eustace Tilley.”
2. “How are you doing?”
“Marvelously, may I help you?”
3. “I was wondering if…”
When it comes to email. We get to skip directly to number three. This saves time, which I have very little of. However, I have noticed one major drawback to email. If you request multiple tasks, often only one will get accomplished.
To help with this I started numerically listing what I wanted:
There are three parts to this task:
Please apprise me as each part is accomplished.
I have noticed if I get past three specific requests in one email, balls start to get dropped.
It is common to leave off the greeting and the closing to email. I do not allow myself to do that. My email always start with “Hi Joe,” or “Dear Jane,” and I close with “Thank you,” or “Be well,”. I see it as the base of common courtesy. I receive responses to email where the answer is in the subject line and the email is blank. I recommend against this because it seems rude, but more importantly, it can lead to confusion.
When responding to an email, it is helpful to indicate what you are specifically responding to. Most email programs will set this up for you when you hit the email reply button by giving you a new email window starting with:
On Feb. 13, 2009, at 10:52 AM, Eustace Tilley wrote:
Followed by a copy of the email highlighted and indented.
You can also cut and paste a part of a longer email, followed by your answer.
“Hi Mr. Bogg, this is Dr. Phil, is this a good time for me to interrupt you?”
By asking permission, I am showing respect for the person I am calling. If this is not a good time, I ask if we can set a phone appointment. Again, my mother’s insistence on manners has served me well.
I do not mix business with pleasure. If after we are done with the business of the call, a colleague wants to chat, I politely suggest, “We need to catch up, want to buy me lunch next week?”
A chutzpah professional does not take away from the money making part of the day for personal time. When I am at work, I stay focused on work. Conversely, when I am playing, I do not think of work.
If I have to leave a message with a person, I control the conversation with the following statements:
“Do you mind taking a written message?”
“Thanks, do you have paper and a pen?”
I leave a short message. Always saying my phone number slowly twice. Then I ask,
“Do you mind reading that back to me?”
“That sounds exciting Barry, if you don’t mind, can we go over the particulars by email?”
I like to keep control of the movement of a project. So I offer to initiate the email correspondence.
“Give me your email address and I’ll send one to you right away. That way I’ll make sure I have your email address in my computer correctly.”
By taking responsibility for the next action, I know it will get done. I have no control over anyone else, so hoping that they will keep the ball rolling is a giant chutzpah mistake.
Most email programs allow you to put predetermined text at the bottom of every email you send out. Most mail programs referred to them as signatures.
These signatures can be anything you want to make people aware of. You can have lots of signatures and change them depending on the email you are sending. Not only is this a great time saver, but brilliant chutzpah marketing as well.
Are you doing a talk? Add the contact information to a signature on all outbound email for the month prior to your date. Have a web site with amazing content? Put it in a signature!
A signature can also have graphics!
The sidebar is my basic email signature. Wherever my email goes, this advertisement goes with it. The graphics and the underlined words are hot linked. So, if someone clicks on a book in my signature, their computer automatically opens an Internet window and takes them to this book’s page at amazon.com. Google’s free email service, Gmail, sends a signature promoting Gmail on every email. A link invites readers to try Gmail. This no-cost viral advertisement is one of the reasons that Google has more money than we do.
Note: These are tiny 2k graphics. I made them in Adobe PhotoShop specifically for quick web loading.
If you put a large graphic (10+k) into your signature the email will upload and download slowly and you will upset your recipient.
When developing your signature graphics you want to catch the eye, but be very careful that your graphic is minute (under 5k). Larger graphics will clog email servers, so many service providers will not allow email greater than 100K total to pass through their system. Some service providers will simply strip the offending graphic and replace it with a broken link symbol (1k) while others will reject the email completely and send it back to you with a nasty system error or no spam note.
It is imperative that you know how people find you. Not just generally, but exactly. Most of this information is easily gathered at the first contact with a potential customer.
Ask the question:
“How did you find me/us?” (Then wait for an answer.)
“Thanks! I/we just like to keep track of how people find me/us.”
I clearly log the answer in my phone message book. At the end of each week, I transfer the accumulated information to a running log. Because I have kept this information over the years, I know a lot about my market area.
When you or your staff answer the phone it is a chutzpah imperative that the highest amount of professionalism be maintained.
Probably once a month someone on the phone will compliment me on my phone etiquette. I do not think this says as much about me as it does about how other businesses treat customers on the phone. Compassionate politeness should be the norm. Chutzpah politeness is what I choose to offer.
On my way into work today, I stopped by a pharmacy to buy some Sudafed. Because of the fact that a minuscule percent of our population use Sudafed to make methamphetamine, I had to wait in the pharmacy line to buy over-the-counter decongestant. While waiting, the phone rang and I watched the pharmacy assistant answer it. “Thank you for calling Longs, your neighborhood pharmacy, can you hold?” Instantly she placed the caller on hold. There was no way she heard the caller’s answer.
Ten minutes went by until it was my turn, and another two minutes for my transaction, when I said in a low voice, “You left someone on hold.”
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “I forgot all about her.”
When you, as a business owner, look at this situation you have to question if the statement, “Thank you for calling Longs, your neighborhood pharmacy” comforted the person on hold for twelve minutes. The pharmacy assistant was very polite to everyone I saw her have contact with, and I assume she truly made an honest mistake. But was it avoidable?
What are the phone policies of the pharmacy? Do they account for busy times with two lines of customers waiting to pick up medications? Are you supposed to get permission from the caller to put them on hold, or simply ask for permission?
The phone transmits feelings. To help transmit positive feelings, I recommend three basic rules before anyone in your company answers the phone.
I want the mirror neurons in our brains to fire positive neurochemistry. Then, I want this positiveness transmitted through the phone line. I take this chutzpah seriously. When someone calls my office, I want them to know that my company works for them. I want them to know that they are important.
For those of us who are Star Trek fans, we understand the importance of first contact. In your shop, restaurant, or office, every contact is first contact. As a chutzpah marketer, I am always aware that my customer is constantly evaluating my services and then reevaluating them again.
If you are spending hundreds of dollars to have an amazing meal, wouldn’t you scrutinize the taste, atmosphere, and service? And wouldn’t you scrutinize through a filter of “damn this is expensive!”
You should expect your customers to do the same. If you consistently pass the test, they will tell lots of people, and that will be good for your business. Conversely, if you start to slip, they will tell even more people, and that will be bad for your business.
For example, in the last few pages I told tens of thousands of readers about my pharmacy experience. But, I’m not as inclined to tell a story about routine, proper, phone etiquette.
In addition to the three rules already stated, chutzpah marketers use their phone wisely.
A chutzpah phone script is one form of the 9-second speeches that are provided to all personnel that answer your office phone. (A copy should be by each phone.) Unlike the 9-second speech where the answer is personal to you, the chutzpah phone script is a collection of the best responses to common questions that are asked over the phone. If you answer your phone regularly, you probably know most of the questions. If not, you need to start a running log of questions prospects ask. Within no time you will have a decent list.
Please note: In this section I will discuss only questions associated with marketing, but you will also want to develop scripted answers associated with commonly asked business questions.
I have developed phone scripts for, and with, a variety of professionals. These documents take a lot of man hours to develop. I know of two different times when the document was pilfered. One was stolen by an employee of a chiropractor and given to her boyfriend, a competing chiropractor. The second was liberated by a part-time attorney when he left to open up his own private office.
The goal is to quickly get to the answer you need while talking on the phone. There are three common ways to display your chutzpah script.
Chutzpah flip cards.
No matter the format, the goal is the same, to make it easy for whomever is authorized to answer the phone to represent your company well.
Whether you are a new company or a seasoned professional, I advise you to develop phone scripts. This way you will have the best answer at your finger tips when you are on the phone. In time, you will memorize your well developed scripts. But, given enough time, we all get sloppy and a refresher course is then only fingertips away.
Let’s look at some common phone questions:
The hold button should be avoided if at all possible. However, sometimes it is unavoidable. A few hints on how to use the hold button when it is unavoidable. By following these tips, your company will shine in customer service.
As Vic, the extremely profitable gas station owner, taught us at the beginning of the chapter, the phone is directly connected to your customer’s, and potential customer’s wallets. How you use your phone and email, directly influences your company’s bottom line.
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