Here’s a hint: every company has one.
BY Nicholas Sonnenberg – 24 May 2018
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
If you run a business that thrives off of customers reaching out to you over the phone, the natural instinct is to do whatever you can to increase the amount of incoming calls. You want to get your contact info out there so that you can reel in as many potential clients as possible. Sounds like a logical move, right?
Well, I would beg to differ. In reality, increasing the number of incoming calls is not the smartest thing you could be doing for your business, and it may in fact be hurting your business.
While you do get business from these customers reaching out to you, the entire process sucks up a huge amount of time. You and your team are likely spending most of your time on the phone, vetting potential customers, instead of only interacting with actual customers.
Pro tip: You want to weed out those potential customers and focus solely on your actual customers.
Focus on what makes you money
I recently worked with an “old school” home repair company to help update their systems and increase efficiency. Anyone who knows me is probably thinking that I went in and threw their fax machines out the window while simultaneously installing a handful of project management and process documentation tools on all of their computers.
As much as I would have liked to do that, I didn’t.
The reason I didn’t do that is because there were much bigger fish to fry. In any business, you and your team need to maximize the amount of time you are spending on the stuff that makes you money!
Sure, this is common sense. But if you look at businesses across the globe, most of them are getting bogged down in stuff that isn’t making them money–and this company was doing exactly that.
They thrived off of people reaching out to them about problems with their homes. Their phones were ringing off the hook with people who had issues that needed to be fixed, which is great! The problem was that they were spending the vast majority of their time on the phone, as opposed to actually going to people’s homes, fixing their problems, and making money for their business.
So how do you solve that?
The Push/Pull System
Rather than living in a distracting environment where you’re bombarded with information being thrown at you, create a pull system so that relevant information is at your finger tips when (and only when) you need it.
Let’s just take a moment to look at what their previous workflow was like. This was their day-to-day routine for years.
Before (push system):
A call would come in and the person would explain their problem.
An employee would ask them a few questions to figure out what was going on.
Based on their answers, they would go through a diagnostic procedure to see if it was possible to fix the problem over the phone. (Much like how the cable company will tell you to reset your router whenever you call.)
50% of the time, the problem would be fixed during the diagnostic process
50% of the time, a technician would need to come to their house. This is the only time when the company makes money.
So, just to recap, four out of those five steps are not making the company any money! Not only that, but they are taking up a tremendous amount of time for everyone involved.
All of this information–in the form of phone calls from potential customers–was being thrown at the company, but a good portion of it was totally useless. They were being forced to weed through all of this information that was being pushed at them just to find the handful of clients that could actually make them money. Not only was this a waste of their time, but studies have shown that you need at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted work to get into a flow state, where you can be most productive. The constantly ringing phones meant this was virtually impossible, and their productivity was taking a bit hit because of it.
After (pull system):
The solution to this problem is counterintuitive. We had to pull the right information from these potential customers. What I’m about to say might make some business owners cry out in frustration…
We removed the telephone number from their website.
By removing their telephone number, the company was now in control of their time. They no longer had information being pushed at them by potential customers. This solved the first problem. Now we just needed to figure out how to solve the second problem–pulling the right information from those potential customers. Here’s how we did it.
We set up an FAQ section and a Self-Help Test on their website, followed by an intake form which asked all the necessary follow up questions to prequalify their leads. This covered all of the potential scenarios and instructions that their employees would have previously gone over on the phone. Instead of immediately picking up the phone, customers were directed to this section of the website to diagnose the issue themselves.
If the problem wasn’t fixed by the time they got to the last steps of the self-help test, the company now had a very good idea of exactly what the problem was and how they would fix it. At this point, the customer would be prompted to give us their email and telephone number, and they would receive a phone call within 24 hours to address their problem.
This new process had four main benefits:
Less time was being spent answering incoming calls, meaning the employees could focus on making money for the business.
Employees were now able to control the time they would be spending on the phone every week by scheduling phone calls.
In the words of Tony Robbins, the CEO could now spend his time working ON their business, as opposed to IN their business.
The customers that were getting through to them were already pre-qualified and vetted–they knew that they would be getting money from each customer that made it through their filters.
Did they lose some potential customers by not having a phone number on their website? Absolutely. However, the amount of time saved by this new process vastly outweighed the handful of lost customers. Over the long term, the amount of incoming customers leveled off and profits increased as more time was being spent making money for the company.
It’s counterintuitive, yes. But it works. If you have similar processes in your business, the first step is to look at how you can pull the right information and avoid having information pushed at you.
Just by solving that one problem, you’ll be able to free up your time to focus on the most important aspects of your business–the ones that make you money!