24 May 2011
Is your business making costly mistakes on the phone?
Despite Facebook, emails, texting and a whole range of other technologies, the telephone is an important contact point for your customers and it is still, for the majority of people, the preferred method of contact.
Keeping your customers happy is a key concern for most businesses. It only takes three seconds for a caller to gain an impression and one dissatisfied customer can tell up to 15 others about their experience, so it’s important to get it right.
Ava Lucanus, Owner of Edge Communication says, “What you say to your customers in those first three seconds determines whether or not they will choose to do business with you, or not.”
“If you want to keep your customers happy, here are some simple tips on what you can do every time you answer the phone.”
- Be completely prepared. –
When the phone rings, answer on the third ring. That will give you a chance to stop what you’re doing and avoid sounding distracted, find a pen and paper, take a deep breath, exhale and smile. The caller will hear the smile in your voice.
2. Identify yourself properly –
Identify your organisation, department (if appropriate) and your name. “Welcome to xyz company, this is John”. This helps build trust and rapport and you are more likely to get the caller’s name, which you can then use to help control the conversation towards the desired outcome.
3. Use the caller’s name –
It’s a good idea to use the caller’s name sometime during the conversation and at the close of the call, to help build rapport and trust. We all know how valued it makes us feel when someone calls us by name and this courteous act will confirm in our customers mind that they are dealing with a friendly and professional business.
4. Don’t do two things at once –
We can often do two things at once, though not well. The caller can always tell when you are doing something else as your voice tone will sound distracted. This could be the only chance you will have to create the first impression of a caring and professional business. The message the caller will receive is that you are too busy to listen to them. Always show genuine interest by your voice tone. Remember, the caller cannot see you nodding so you must give verbal nods – e.g. “Aha, I see, Okay, Yes”.
5. Take ownership of the call –
When transferring a call, always let the caller know who they will be transferred to, then inform the transferee of the caller’s name and the reason for the call. Transfer the call only when you are sure it is the right person for the caller. We all know the frustration of giving our story over the phone, to be told, “I’ll just put you through”, then having to repeat our story possible once, twice or three times.
6. Don’t keep the caller in limbo –
Whenever you place a call on hold, make sure you ask permission first and inform the caller of why you are placing them on hold. There’s nothing more frustrating to a caller than after explaining what they called for, to be told “just putting you on hold” without an explanation or an indication of how long.
7. Never hang up first –
Always let the caller hang up first in case they had something else to ask. They may be about to say something else and then hear a crash in their ear as you hang up. It is very important to leave a long lasting positive impression in the caller’s mind that you have done everything you can to assist them.
8. Follow up when you promise in a timely manner –
Take action and give progress reports when unable to respond by the promised time. The caller is not a mind reader and doesn’t know that you haven’t received the information yet. They just think you have forgotten about them.
“Follow these eight tips and your customers will perceive you as a friendly, professional and trustworthy business that they feel comfortable dealing with,” said Ava.
“They will be more likely to give you repeat business and tell others about you, creating word of mouth referrals. Pamper your customers because they are the best and lowest cost marketing tool you have.”
For further information contact Selina Gates, Four1One Marketing 0438 197 033 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ava Lucanus has over 30 years experience working in customer service roles for a wide range of businesses. She is the owner of Edge Communication, which is dedicated to developing and improving every employee’s overall communication skills, especially for those dealing with customers.
Edge Communication is an all-encompassing customer service training business offering one-on-one or group training sessions to give employees the skills and tools to keep customers happy.
Visit the website at www.edgecommunication.com.au to find out more about how Edge Communication can help you reach your customer service goals.