How many customers does your business lose a day?
I am sure every business owner/manager hopes the number is zero. The reality is that it may be much higher than you might think.
When I established my business, I contacted five web design companies, eleven insurance brokers and five employment lawyers. Out of the 21 companies that I contacted just two replied; one lawyer and one insurance broker.
I was amazed by how few responses I got. Out of the five web design companies there was one that I had planned to use; their website looked great and their examples of past work also looked amazing.
When they did not respond to my email, I lost trust in the company. If I have an emergency and my site goes down, I want to know that I can get hold of the company immediately. By not replying to just one email I lost all my trust in the company.
How much business could you be losing simply because you miss important emails and phone calls?
In some cases I estimate that companies could be losing as much as 20 percent revenue per year.
The problem is much, much more common than you might think. Go back to your email from exactly seven days ago and see how many messages you forgot to reply to. Unless you have some good systems in place you probably forgot to reply to about 20-30 percent.
So why does this happen?
Are the staff members incompetent? Are they trying to ruin your business? In most cases the answer is no.
The answer lies deep within our psychology. I believe the reason that so many important messages go unanswered is employees simply get overburdened and forget. New Zealand was shocked when a medical practitioner left her baby in her car resulting in his death. Yet as we will see everyone’s memory will fail them sooner or later.
Many of us think that our memories are powerful tools that can handle large quantities of information. Is this really true? The answer is yes and no! The reason for the two answers is because we have two kinds of memories.
There is short term memory and long term memory. Long term memory is extraordinary.
We can recall vast sums of information if it is stored in our long term memory; we can all recall lists of at least 25 items.
Don’t believe me? Almost anyone five and up can recite the 26 letters of the alphabet. You can probably remember the names of hundreds of people you know, and some basic facts about them. I do not mean people you have just met or people you occasionally see, I mean the people you see on a regular basis. You can probably remember large parts of your life, from when you went to school to what you are doing now. In short, long term memory is the brain’s equivalent of Superman.
Then there is short term memory. If long term memory is like superman then short term memory is like a bubble; it lasts only momentarily, then it is gone often without a trace.
Items in short term memory can last less than five seconds. Imagine someone asks you to call Mary, email George, write a quote for Lucy and photocopy the accounts for Robert. While you are desperately trying to remember this, the phone rings, then once you hang up someone asks to find out who has parked in the owner’s car park.
By the time you get back to your original list you will probably forget at least one thing. Short term memory is temporary. It doesn’t matter how important an item is, if it is held in short term memory it can get lost. That was how a mother forgot that her baby was in the back of the car.
The way that items go from the limited short term memory to the powerful long term memory is by repetition. If you want to know how this works in the brain, Google, “synapse and myelination and memory”. By repeating something over and over again, and giving it meaning, you will be able to remember substantial amounts of information.
Here is one simple tip to greatly reduce the chances of important information getting lost.
Simply set aside some time at the end of the day to go back over your emails, phone messages and any other correspondence, to ensure that nothing gets missed. This sounds simple and it is, yet when I have taught people to do this it greatly reduces the chances of important messages getting missed.
At the end of every day I always go through my emails and phone messages. I usually find at least one or two that I simply forgot about.
As far as I am aware I have not forgotten to reply to one important message since I established my company because I have techniques to guard against the flawed short term memory.
This is just one of several techniques that I use. My company can teach you and your staff other important techniques to ensure you do not simply forget about important emails and phone calls.
Michael Hempseed is the managing director of Employee Solution Service.