EVEN with Facebook, emails, texting and a whole range of other technologies, the telephone is still an important contact point for your customers and for the majority of people is the preferred method of contact.
When a customer calls, it only takes three seconds for them 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.
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.
Keeping your customers happy is easy and here are some simple things 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.
Identify yourself properly
Identify your organisation, department 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.
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. This helps to 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 customer’s mind that they are dealing with a friendly and professional business.
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 they will hear the distraction in your voice. 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’.
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 again and again.
Don’t keep the caller in limbo
Whenever you place a call on hold, make sure you ask permission first and tell the caller why you are placing them on hold. There’s nothing more frustrating to a caller than being put on hold without an explanation or an indication of how long.
Never hang up first
Always let the caller hang up first in case they had something else to ask. 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.
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.
No matter what size your business is, follow these simple tips when you answer the phone and your customers will perceive you as a friendly, professional and trustworthy business that they feel comfortable dealing with.
After all, a happy customer will be more likely to give you repeat business and tell others about you, creating word of mouth referrals that are worth their weight in gold. Always pamper your customers and show them that you care because they are the lowest cost marketing tool you have.
Ava Lucanus is the owner of Edge Communication, a customer service training business offering one-on-one or group training workshops.
Contact Ava on firstname.lastname@example.org | www.edgecommunication.com.au |