Define the Lines of Communication

In the typical day-to-day life of the design/builder, dozens of phone calls and inquiries are processed. Employing a live person to answer the telephone may seem like a victory in today’s technological world, but are we as business people doing enough to adequately process communication and project a professional company image?

Restaurants have front entries but also rear doors for receiving produce, fish, meat, cleaning supplies, linen services and any other materials needed to run the business. Why? Because the restaurant owner knows that in order to keep his customers happy, he must differentiate how the customers and vendors enter and cohabitate the same building space.

No customer at a restaurant wants to see the butcher deliver a side of beef through the dining area of his favorite restaurant. Can you imagine what a chilling effect that would have on business?

Believe it or not your company also has a front and rear door. Your front door needs to be easily identifiable, recognizable and inviting to the people that like to buy your goods and services. Past, present and future customers may enter your front door through a website, an actual storefront or the telephone.

A person meeting and greeting clients, and/or answering the phone, needs to create a warm, inviting and safe atmosphere in which to enter. If the greeting is a recorded message, it needs to convey what the caller can expect from the company, be it a callback within a reasonable time frame, or something else. In the meantime, the recorded message also can direct customers to the website for more specific company information.

If customers are entering your business through your website, it should also convey what the client can expect from the company. For example, if a customer sends an e-mail requesting a return phone call, they should be sent a confirmation e-mail stating that a representative will contact them within a specified time period. If your business is not set up to handle this type of inquiry, then don’t give the Internet visitor the option to e-mail you. You will only frustrate the consumer by requesting that they divulge their contact information, only to be left waiting for a reply that will never come. It is far better to advertise a company telephone number that will be answered than to publish an e-mail address that will not.

The rear door of the company allows subcontractors, vendors and suppliers to communicate with the company behind the scenes. In most cases, subcontractors, vendors and suppliers are not looking to talk with administrative people. They may be looking for someone else in the company such as the estimator, designer or owner. So why should they have to talk to the middle man?

Establish the rule for all subcontractors, vendors and suppliers to call the person they are looking for directly. This will create clear communication channels to each person in the company for receiving and transferring information. It also will reduce the number of phone calls the administrative assistant needs to answer, and allow more time to concentrate on the calls that will produce new projects.

The extra effort needed to separate the internal and external communication lines is well worth it. It allows the main phone line to be used by past, present and future customers, and not by your subcontractors wanting to talk to a specific employee. Clearly defining and establishing your company’s front and rear entry points is critical to ensuring the smooth transfer of information while putting your best face forward for homeowners.