Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Accessible = Approachable = $$$

“Gee, you guys are tough to get a hold of…”
“I finally tracked you down!”
“I’ve been trying to get in touch with you for weeks.”

This is not good.

When your answer the phone and hear one of these comments, it means that your caller, potential customer, raving fan or transient website visitor who would just LOVE to talk to you, who FINALLY got a hold of you for first time, is already annoyed. He’s already thinking, Damn it...maybe this company isn’t worth it anyway.

And you haven’t even started the conversation yet.

Nice.

Think back. Have you ever sought help from a person or a company, scoured their website for a few minutes, only to frustratingly discover NO contact information other than one of those cryptic, impersonal, we-promise-to-get-back-to-you-soon forms?

What a pain in the arse.

But let’s turn the tables for a sec. Have you ever needed to talk to someone - like, NOW - easily found a phone number on their website and instantly heard a REAL PERSON’S VOICE within five seconds?

Apparently, customers love this. Which sounds kind of obvious, right? Customers love talking to a real person? Duh!

But here's the thing. Over the past few years I’ve received a lot of random phone calls, either on my cell or on my office line, from people around the country who wanted to buy books, set up speaking programs, or even just shoot the breeze. And often times, this is what the conversation sounded like:

“HELLO, my name is Scott!”

“Oh, uh...Scott?”

“Yeah...?”

“Wow, I-I didn’t expect you to actually answer the phone.”

“Really? Why not?”

“Um, I don’t know...I guess most people are just tough to get a hold of. But this is great! I’m so glad we’re talking! Anyway, my name is Karen. The reason I called is because I’m the Program Coordinator for my company’s annual conference, and we’re looking for a speaker to kick off the...”

Nice.

Still, I'm blown back every time I hear a remark like that because it just seems smart to be easy to get a hold of. And I'm surprised more people don't embrace that idea.

Now, maybe that's just my style. Maybe that's my generation. Or maybe that's because I run a one man operation there's nobody else here to answer the phones!

But even Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble, author of the book Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, posted about this very idea last year:

“Make it easy to get a hold of you - especially if you ever want something nice to happen to you. I've been trying to get a hold of bloggers lately to do various things with them (and even hire some of them) and often it's hard to find a way to contact the blogger. But you never know who wants to get a hold of you. How they'll change your business. How they'll change your career.”

Amen to that.

And I know: putting your anonymity on the line (no pun intended) has its drawbacks. There’s the possibility of stalkers, crank calls, additional cell phone charges for incoming calls (damn you Sprint!) and of course, people trying to sell you stuff you don’t want.

But the bottom line is: customers love and want to talk to YOU.

If that's not approachability, I don't know what is.

Wanna talk about it? Call my cell: (314)374-3397.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

How do you make yourself (and your company) accessible to customers?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com