So I’ve recently been scoping out a few agencies in order to find the right match for the company I head marketing for. It’s an arduous, tricky process where you rely on gut feel, hearsay and portfolios before drawing up any shortlist.
It then came to the phase of phoning the ones I was interested in, in order to make initial contact with them. This was to see if they were interested, and subsequently invite them to send us their credentials and portfolios.
Here’s the thing – things are tough in SA. Most agencies are pretty damn keen on new business. So you would think that when it comes knocking on the door, they’d be very much ready. So you’d think.
Let one thing be clear – this wasn’t the fault of the reception people. They clearly hadn’t been instructed or trained at all on how to deal with calls like this. My message was simple: “Hi, I’m Jared, calling from XXXX, we’d like to see if you’d be interested in sending us credentials and info in order to be part of a process of presenting for our account. Who can I speak to?” What I got were a lot of “um”, “uh”, “excuse me?”, “Can I get your details?” or getting put through to someone equally unsure of what to do. One even gave me an email address and told me to send my request through. The email address turned out to be incorrect.
The most important calls you’re going to get as an agency are new business calls. Surely you should have a crystal clear plan on what happens when those calls come in? Surely the reception person would immediately know what to do with the call, with confidence and efficiency. I found it highly ironic that agencies that were probably lecturing their clients about things like “touchpoint strategies” were getting a primary touchpoint of their own so wrong.
As a side note, I’ve often been of the opinion that in service based businesses, the receptionist should be either trained profusely on sales or service, or they should be almost a mid-level resource. Often the receptionist is the only interaction a potential customer will have with the company. Therefore, in many respects, they are the brand. More on this idea some other time though.
Anyway, this is just one example of something that happens very often. If you’re sitting at the top end of your business, your customer touchpoints are often very far below you. You often have very little knowledge of what’s going on with them. Test them. Refine them. Perfect them.