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You’re ready to take your web presence to a new level and you’re looking to hire a company – the right company – to help you do it. But it can be challenging to navigate through the differing opinions, ideas, processes and price points of competing web development companies and almost impossible to make an apples-to-apples comparison when there are so many widely diverse options available.
So what’s a business owner to do, especially a busy one who doesn’t want to spend days, weeks or months agonizing over who to hire, or make a poor decision that can have far-reaching marketing consequences?
That’s what this series is about. In it you’ll find some make-or-break questions to ask any company you’re considering hiring so you can go into the deal feeling more confident of your choice.
Today’s Question: Who Answers The Phones?
The correct answer partly depends on your comfort level working with different types of companies. Before you choose one to work with, ask yourself whether it’s important that you are able to reach a principal or manager, or if you are ok with being bumped to the office assistant.
Remember the last post about finding out who you’ll be working with? You might have met with a principal, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be working with one. Likewise, you may have met with a principal – you may even have been assured that you’ll be working with one – but who answers the phones?
Do you actually get a principal or manager on the other end of the line, or are you always routed via an office assistant? While being transferred to your primary party isn’t a bad thing, being told that he’s perpetually in a meeting/away from his desk/on a call/out of the office is.
If you don’t mind having your message “passed along” or being constantly routed to voicemail, then you’re better than me. I want to reach the guy in charge.
You should also be wary of phone queues if you’re considering a bigger company, unless you’re ok with automated systems that require you to press a number to speak to a representative. Personally, I’d work with a small business any day of the week before I spent another second on hold or being routed to the consultant du jour.
Dealing with big companies is a sometimes necessary evil, whether you want phone service or car insurance. But there is nothing more frustrating than being transferred between people, repeating a request or question and wasting time getting results.
The good news is that unlike phone and insurance companies, web consultants and developers tend toward the small business side. Even so, make sure you know that you can reach your project manager or primary consultant directly, whether via phone or email.
It’s not good enough to be constantly shuffled to the office assistant who attempts to be helpful, but doesn’t quite have the handle on your project that you’d like. You should be able to reach someone in charge, preferably someone in charge of your project.
On the flip side, be mindful that if you’re working with a single person or freelancer, it’s just as important to do the phone test. Lots of freelancers have other jobs, and that means limited time and no office assistant.
I know fantastic freelancers who balance multiple jobs and please their clients, but I’ve also known those who turn off their cell phones, disappear and take your money and project with them. Not maliciously perhaps, but the result is still lost time and revenue.
Marketing is a personal business. It’s less about the website and more about the people you want to reach with the website. You want a company that is responsive to your needs and makes their interest in your success obvious by answering your calls and emails and making sure that your questions, requests and concerns are addressed personally and directly.
Anything less can be detrimental to a web or marketing project and translate to lost revenue or lost customers for your business.
So find out who answers the phones. Ask the question directly and see what kind of answer you get. Then make a few practice calls and test out the answer for yourself. This tiny investment of time can mean the difference between marketing success and a total website disaster.
In our next post we’ll be asking another demanding question so stop by and find out what it is before you choose a developer.
Want To Read The Whole Series? Check It Out Here:
- Want To Hire A Web Developer? Find Out Who You’ll (Really) Be Working With First.
- Want To Hire A Web Developer? Find Out Who Answers The Phones.
- Want To Hire A Web Developer? Find Out Who’s Responsible When Things Go Wrong.
- Want To Hire A Web Developer? Find Out If They Proactively Offer Advice.
- 5 (More) Things To Ask Before You Hire A Web Developer: The Wrapup Edition