The phones are the lifeblood of your business, and each inbound call is an opportunity to WOW a potential or existing customer. It’s not easy, but follow these 8 Golden Rules and you will be amazed at how many people are congratulating you for the professional manner in which you handled their call:
1. Thank the caller for calling. The people that contact your business are not required to do so, they choose to do so. Furthermore, they are taking time out of their busy day to do so. Therefore, make sure to thank them for the phone call, always. It seems like a simple thing to do, but many phone handlers skip this simple step all together. A great place to thank callers is right up front at the beginning of the call. For example, here’s a fantastic way to greet your callers (and thank them in the process):
STAFF MEMBER: “Thank you for calling ABC Business, my name is Sally and my job is to [insert goal].”
As you can see, this is much better than the usual, “ABC Business, this is Sally speaking.”
2. Collect the name and phone number. This is a critical step for countless reasons, and one that cannot be missed. It’s amazing how many call recordings we hear where brand levitra cheap staff members have detailed conversations with callers, but yet fail to capture the name and phone number before the call completes. At YesTrak, we like to ask for the caller’s name and number right up front. Doing so serves many purposes. For example, continuing on with the greeting above:
STAFF MEMBER: “Can I please start with your first and last name? And can I please have your phone number in case we get disconnected? Thank you. And what motivated you to call us today?”
You see how effective that is? In addition to being polite, it actually sets the tone for the rest of the call because it lets the caller know you’re in control and will be thorough in handling all scenarios. Also, by providing you with information up front, subconsciously the caller is that much closer to booking an appointment, placing an order, etc. Which is exactly the outcome you are after.
3. Gain permission to transfer the call, place on hold, take a message, etc. Demonstrating you are courteous is essential in impressing callers. It’s not difficult, but it does require attention to detail at all times. One slip up, and you’ve lost it. Being courteous means gaining the approval of the caller before taking any action whatsoever. Areas we see staff members slip up most often are:
4. Listen without interrupting. While this seems like a simple request of anyone that answers phones, it’s actually much harder than it appears. There are just too many callers that drag on and on… and while it’s tempting to cut people off for the sake of time, the reality is that can never happen (especially if your goal is to deliver first-class customer service). Therefore, 1) Wait until the caller is done speaking before attempting a reply, 2) Thank the caller for what they have just said, and 3) Respond accordingly, and politely. If you follow these three simple steps at all times, your callers will always feel important.
5. Demonstrate empathy whenever possible. Empathy is your secret weapon. It immediately sets you apart from the crowd. It’s the emotional connection that lets your callers know you care, and that you’re not just interested in earning the all mighty dollar. Without empathy, you might as well record your words and hit a play button. All of the great communicators are conscious of their empathy levels at all times. As Damon Richards once wrote, “Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Well said Damon!
6. Repeat back important information provided. There’s nothing more frustrating than calling a business and supplying information only to find out the agent wrote it down incorrectly. Therefore, assure your callers that you’re paying attention to details by repeating back phone numbers, the spelling of names, email addresses, and more. While it may seem like a tedious task, your callers will actually appreciate your thoroughness and respect your desire to get it right the first time.
7. Confirm the next steps. Now that you have done a great job in collecting the callers name and number, demonstrating empathy, listening, showing gratitude, etc., you are ready to move things forward (and hopefully, so is your caller!). An important step to take at this point is to actually confirm what it is you are going to do next so that both parties are on the same page. Doing so ensures you don’t hit any snags along the way which could cause your customer to reconsider.
Here’s an example of how that might sound:
STAFF MEMBER: “Mr. Jones, we are very excited to work with you. We know you are going to be extremely happy with the services we provide. As a quick review, here’s what’s going to happen next…”
You get the idea. Just a quick summary of next steps with buy-in from the caller demonstrating they understand.
8. End on a high note. No matter the result of the call, always end each conversation in a positive manner. You just never know when someone who says ‘no’ now may turn around and contact you back after reconsidering. So as the saying goes, never burn a bridge.
For example, let’s say the caller informs you they are choosing your competitor. Here’s a great way to respond:
STAFF MEMBER: “We certainly understand that you have many choices when it comes to providers, and we appreciate the fact you considered us. Just know that regardless of how your services go with ABC Company, we are available to answer any questions you may have along the way and would love the opportunity to work with you in the future. We know you will be very happy with what we offer should you decide to give us a chance. So please keep in touch with us as things progress. We are always here, and eager to hear from you!”