A key consumer turn-off is the business that doesn’t answer its phones, even during normal business hours. People might be used to calling the major U.S. chains and being trapped in voicemail jail, but they expect more from your small business. If you can’t afford to have someone answering your phones fulltime, consider hiring an answering service. It is far better to offer a live voice to a prospective customer than the sound of a recorded voicemail or answering machine message.
And when customers do leave you a message, don’t let their calls go more than 24 hours without being returned. It just makes good business sense to choose a time every day to return your calls. Even just leaving a message on your customers’ voice mail or message machine will go a long way toward "super-gluing" them to your business.
Neal Polachek Senior vice-president, research and consulting The Kelsey Group Princeton, N.J.