Dan Tudor makes a really good point in response to Seth Godin’s post which talks about how your lawyers are basically extensions of your marketing department. Dan points out that all of your employees are sales people for your business. The problem is they don’t see it that way and, chances are, neither do you. Sure you may have a sales force that goes out there and sells your products/services but did you not realise that when your receptionist answers the phone well, he/she says something good about your company. The same thing applies when your assistant goes out of his/her way to help your customer find that piece of paper at the bottom of that box. Sure we talk about customer service and its importance but customer service as a concept starts to become pretty nebulous and vague until you think about it as sales.
I had to send a fax to a company yesterday but I didn’t have their fax number so I called the office and asked for the best fax number for the person I needed to reach. I was given a number and it rang and rang so I called back and was given another number. That one just rang too. So I did what any fairly Web-savvy person would do and I found the company’s website and hunted through a couple layers of dense text until I found what appeared to be a fax number and tried that one. It also just rang until the receptionist finally answered the line, which confused me until she explained that the fax lines divert to the switchboard when the relevant machine is busy. Now the idea there may have been to ensure that all calls are answered (although I am not sure how the receptionist is supposed to take a message from a fax machine) or perhaps the idea was to be able to manually redirect the incoming fax to another machine. Whatever the motivation the half hour I spent on the phone trying to find an active fax line left me with the impression that this multinational company was some two bit hick company that doesn’t take its customers seriously.
Oh, and by the way, fax to email services are inexpensive and mean your customers don’t spend half an hour trying to send a fax!