Local Contractor Trying New Business Model: Returning Phone Calls

MILTON – A contractor in Milton is trying a new business model, and actually returning customers’ phone calls. Len Lyon says speaking to customers, answering their questions, and giving them pertinent information has actually increased business and overall client satisfaction.

“I know it seems counter-intuitive,” Lyon says, “but it really seems to be working. When someone calls us on the phone and leaves us a message, see, what we do now is, we make a return call to that person to address whatever the message was about. I know, crazy. And it could be about literally anything. When are we going to show up? Can we take on a new project? How much is something going to cost? Really, there’s no template to follow; it’s like improv. You make it up as you go along.”

Previously the company would simply respond to communications with either a generic e-mail template, or a robotic phone menu that attempted to solve potential issues without having to resort to actual human-to-human interaction. With the new system, Lyon says business has almost doubled.

“What’s the first thing we all think when we wake up? ‘Ugh, hope I don’t have to deal with any other humans today,’ right? So this is new territory for us, but for some reason it seems to be working. And, once in a while, if we’re not doing anything else, we actually answer the phone when it rings. No voice mail needed at all. It’s wild.”

Several of Lyon’s employees have left the company after they became uncomfortable with the new policy of communicating personally with customers, but the ones who’ve stayed say they are getting used to the new system.

“I’ll be honest, it’s weird,” says Mel Annie Hall, who has worked for Lyon for almost five years. “But when you step back and really look at it, it’s cutting down our work time. We have fewer errors, fewer angry customers, and we get to home a little earlier at the end of the day. So I guess if that means talking to a person with my voice, well, we all make sacrifices for the greater good.”

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