According to Bain and Company, only 8% of consumers believe the companies they do business with deliver a superior customer experience. That means 92% of you have room to improve!
The phones are a great place to start since they deliver the all-too-critical first impression of your business. Here’s 5 F’s for Improved Call Answering:
As a general rule of thumb, phones should be answered in 3 rings or less (or 10 seconds). If callers are waiting longer than 3 rings there’s a good chance they’re hanging up on you and calling your competitors.
If you have call recording in place (and we believe you should), how fast you answer should be easy to keep track of. Simply create a chart of how many rings occur before each call is answered, then generate averages per day, per week and per month.
Focus on consistency, and note the times of day it’s taking longer to get to the phone than others. It may mean you are short-staffed during those hours, which is something you can quickly fix with some simple schedule tweaks.
Today, people expect you to be nice, always. If not, they will find someone else that is.
A simple first step in delivering a friendlier tone is to place a mirror near the phone to see if you are smiling during your calls. Just that one basic prop will make all the difference in the world to your callers. It’s tough to convey a pleasant tone across your telephone wires if you don’t have a pleasant expression on your face.
Next, analyze the greeting you are using with callers. A proper greeting contains the following elements:
Here’s an example of how that might go:
“Good morning and thanks for calling ABC Company. My name is Sally and my job is to deliver a first-class customer experience to all of our callers. Can I please start with your name and phone number in case we get disconnected?”
You see how pleasant and smooth that is? Feel free to develop your own greeting. Just remember to include the 5 elements above and you can’t go wrong.
Finally, pay attention to the amount of times you say the caller’s name, and the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Listen to your call recordings and keep track. It’s almost guaranteed that the more often they are used, the better the outcome.
One of the problems we often hear in call recordings is phone handlers not being focused, or not following a plan. Conversations wander aimlessly with no sense of purpose, and generally the desired outcome is not achieved as a direct result. That’s why it’s important to have a plan for each type of phone call you will take.
Meet with your team and map out a strategy. For example, what are the required pieces of information you need to collect from every new prospect? And in what order are you collecting it? Also, what’s the next step for the caller once the info is collected?
These are all important steps to plan out so that the call has the proper flow to it. It’s also very helpful to have a clipboard with intake forms next to each phone so that the call handler has something to look at and write-on during the call.
As writer, professor, and management consultant, Peter Drucker, once said, “What gets measured gets managed.” That’s why you need to implement a 5-Star Rating System for your phone calls right away.
The process is simple, listen to your call recordings and give one star walmart expense report for each of the key elements you are looking to achieve: Was the call answered quickly? Was the staff member pleasant and courteous? Was the staff member helpful? Did the staff member follow the plan? Were the next steps explained to the caller? Etc.
Keep a leader board in the office so that each member of your team can see how they are doing compared to others. It’s amazing what you can achieve when the competitive juices get flowing, so don’t be afraid to reward top performers with awards, prizes, etc. Just make sure your contests are fair and that your team members are engaged.
You’ve heard us say this a thousand times, and you’ll hear us say it a thousand more: Disconnect your answering machines immediately!
Answer live, always. And if your staff can’t get to the phone, pay a service like ours to answer phones for you.
The economics are simple since Forbes reports that caller’s hang up on voicemail 80% of the time. That means if 5 people get your machine, 4 of them are going to hang up on you. How many businesses can afford to lose 4 out of 5 revenue producing opportunities? The answer is: NONE.
So make this the year you do something about it. If you need help, give us a call. We’d love to answer your phones when you can’t.