"Your Call is Very Important to Me…”

……Oh, really?

By Debra K. Traverso

Copyright 2010 by Debra Traverso, OneCall
All rights reserved in all media.

The content of this article may be forwarded in full without special permission provided it is used for nonprofit purposes and full attribution and copyright notice are given. For all other purposes, contact Debra Traverso at dtraverso@makejustonecall.com.

We’ve all heard the phrase “common courtesy.”

I used to think that the adjective “common” was used to define courtesies that were practiced by just about everyone.

However, given that our calls to professionals are rarely ever answered live anymore, I’ve come to realize that “common” must actually be a short-form reference for “common sense.”

You see, “common” acts are things that are done routinely, whereas “common sense” acts are things we know we should do, but may not actually do.

Wouldn’t you say that answering the phone is something we should do?  Doesn’t that fall under the category of “common sense courtesy”?

You bet-cha.

Come now, admit it – Aren’t you a bit shocked…albeit pleasantly…when someone actually answers the phone?

And what’s your immediate reaction?  “I’m lucky! I’m special! I have made contact! This person has good people skills! This person will attend to me! I’ve already begun to have faith in this person.”

So, why then, instead of receiving a live voice, do we hear the disingenuous claim that, “Your call is important to me”…? 

If my call were important to this person, wouldn’t she have answered the phone?

You bet-cha.

Recently, after leaving my third voice message to an agent that asked me to call them, I zipped over to my favorite search engine and typed in varied combinations of these words:
“REALTORS, agents don’t answer the phone, calls.”

Imagine my surprise when 1.6 million hits resulted.  I didn’t scroll through all 1.6 million, but it looked as though a good half of those postings were from agents complaining about other agents!

What also startled me is the rationalizations that agents have posted for: (1) not answering the phone, and (2) not returning calls quickly.

  1. One agent wrote:

    "Many agents do not answer their cells and let people go to voice mail for the simple reason of not wanting to be caught unprepared. In a job where credibility is everything, really, the last thing you want to do is have someone call you needing information, or having questions you do not have the answers to. I personally hate talking to a prospect, especially the first time when first impressions are everything and not having the information they request.”
  2. He’s kidding, right? 

    No, upon closer review, he’s quite serious.

    All for the sake of credibility, he takes the chance of losing a potential client.  There’s nothing credible in losing a client before you even get one.

    The National Association of Realtors says that about 67% of both buyers and sellers will do business with the first person with whom they speak.  Not the first they call, but the first with whom they speak. Instead of leaving a number for callback, many of these clients will simply hang up.  This means that this agent will never even know what opportunities he’s lost. Where’s the credibility in that?

    Instead, he should ascribe to the most basic rule of customer service  and Spokesperson 101 training – answer the phone!  If you don’t know the answer, just say so.  Say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ll find out and call you back in 30 minutes.”  Then, when you call back within 30 minutes, you will have established mountains of credibility with this prospect because you’ve demonstrated the willingness to work for them.

  3. Another agent wrote:

    “…what is a reasonable amount of time in which a voice message should receive a return call? On some Realtors forums, I’ve seen hard core agents proclaim that anything under 3 to 5 minutes is too long. Sorry, I don’t buy that. The day would be utter chaos if I tried to do that. I try to return calls in the morning and by late afternoon when possible. But I’m still old school and think that one business day is reasonable unless the call is of an urgent nature.”

    Again, he’s kidding, right? 

    No, again, this guy is serious too.

    Let’s look at this more closely. John and Jane Smith decide to sell their house over dinner on Tuesday at about 6:30 p.m.  This agent says it’s okay for him to wait until Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. to call them back.  According to NAR statistics, John and Jane decided at 6:31 p.m. on Tuesday to find a different agent. 

    Further, if John and Jane even left a message (again, NAR suggests that generally prospects won’t), and you call them back within five minutes, they’re going to think you were screening your calls. This naturally makes any prospect wonder if you’ll do it again after you’ve secured their business.

Bottom line: Answer your phone!  Don’t let your calls go to voicemail. Or, if you are with a client, then make sure your voicemail says, “I’m with a client at the moment. I should be done by 3 p.m and I will call you back then.”

Fortunately, Mobile Manager allows you to forward your calls to wherever you are, using whatever phone you wish (home, cell, office, Grandma’s), and it allows you to preprogram and/or change your voice messages as easily and as often as you wish.

Remember: There’s a reason that buyers and sellers nationally each year list lack of communication as their number one gripe with agents. Mobile Manager makes it easy to change that without disrupting your life.

For a refresher on how you can more effectively control your communication and organize your transactions, visit our training site at www.makejustonecall.net.

Copyright 2010 by Debra Traverso, OneCall
All rights reserved in all media.

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