Speed Can Be a Strength or a Weakness
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
How long does it take you to put a new client on service? How long should it take? I’m sure you can answer the first question quickly. And I imagine there might be a bit of angst in considering your response to the second one.
In a culture where people don’t want to wait, there’s a pressure to respond quickly when a business wants to use your answering service. But does that pressure to react fast push you to go too quickly?
Consider these scenarios.
When you have a new client, everyone’s excited. You’re happy for more business, and they’re eager to begin using your answering service right away. You assign their number, and they give you their information. So, let’s go!
Many answering services strive to put new clients on fast. Sometimes they’re even answering calls before all the information has been entered. At times staff can answer a new client without first reviewing it and not being able to see the details they need to serve them well. Other times they can’t. In the push for fast activations, attention to detail and quality may suffer.
Some answering services are too fast in adding new accounts. In their pursuit of speed, they sacrifice quality. Do you want your first impression with a new client to revolve around an error caused by going too fast?
To counter the downsides of a fast-activation strategy, other answering services carefully program the account, review and test the information, and train staff. This can take days, even a week or more. But will the client tolerate waiting so long? Remember, they’re impatient. They said, “Yes,” to your sales offer, so they should be good to go. You painted a great picture of the quality you provide, and they don’t realize that good things take time.
Some answering services are too slow in putting on accounts. The result is a delay that fails to impress your client. Is that how you want to begin your business relationship?
There’s a middle ground that balances speed with attention to detail. What is it? One hour? By the end of the day? Within twenty-four hours?
There’s no right answer, but the solution is left for you to determine. Find a balance between going fast and being thorough. But don’t accept the status quo, either. Continually ask yourselves, “How can we improve?” Seek ways to do things both faster and better. But never sacrifice one in pursuit of the other.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his book How to Start a Telephone Answering Service.