Gatekeepers

If you employ a person to take calls for your practice you have a gatekeeper. If all your staff can take outside calls you have a number of gatekeepers. If you work alone, you are your own gatekeeper.

How do your gatekeeper(s) manage incoming calls?

Blockers

We all have calls from suppliers who would like to sell us their wares. In my experience – calling firms as a supplier – most gatekeepers will not connect to a relevant decision maker, they will simply request that information be sent in the post or by email to an info@ email address. From a busy practitioners point of view this is appropriate.

However, the problem with this blanket approach is that occasionally, the supplier will be offering something of real value value to the practice.

Clients calling

Clients present different issues when they call. They are not calling to sell you something, they are calling in response to an email or call from your office or because they have a problem or other issue to discuss.

Your gatekeeper(s) need to respond accordingly. A blanket “we will call you back” response may not be sufficient. For example, you could train your staff (and partners) to ask a series of open questions when clients call.

If they ask for a particular person it should be possible to ask “will xxx know why you are calling?”. In this way your gatekeeper should be able to figure out the degree of urgency involved.

If the client has received a threatening letter from HMRC or has discovered their business is running out of cash, a global response “will will call you back” may not hit the spot.

Missed opportunity

Panning for gold with your eyes closed will never make you a rich person. Gatekeepers need to be observant to spot those nuggets when they arise. Suppliers with products or services that may be of value to the practice, clients with urgent problems that need attention and quickly, prospects that should be called back asap to secure new business for the practice.

Gatekeepers should not be trained to block and delay communication with callers, but to filter calls.

Opportunity rarely calls twice.

Bob Edwards

Bob has been working with practices across the UK offering novel ways to improve cross-sales and increase new client acquisitions. He is also interested in "step changes" in legislation that offer challenges, and therefore opportunities, for practitioners to provide new recurring and one-off support services to clients.

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