It's 2019 and websites are supporting an increasingly large amount of the sales process for brands. When a customer or prospect uses the phone to contact your business, they are looking for answers that they couldn't find online. And whoever answers the phone for your business might be the first and only point of human contact that they have with your company.
When a prospect calls with questions about your brand and offerings, that first impression is going to define their experience with your business. How you answer the phone can be the difference between gaining a loyal customer and turning a prospect toward one of your competitors. You simply can’t afford to leave your brand to chance. You need to make every interaction count, and take steps to ensure you’re providing a great customer experience.
Partnering with a telephone answering service can yield incredible results and happy customers. Learn how an answering service can help your business here:
Positive interactions with well-trained staff often increase your customers’ lifetime value to your business. Thus, providing proper call and customer service training to your team members is extremely important.
If you don't think you have the resources or staff to solidify your customer experience, consider hiring someone who can provide the courteous and intelligent experience your customers demand.
To improve your phone etiquette and ensure your customers receive an excellent experience, implement the nine tips outlined below.
The first step to taking any call is to identify why your prospect or customer decided to pick up the phone. Learning the motive behind a call can dictate what the rest of your conversation will be.
Is your caller an existing customer looking to address a problem they’re having with your service or product? Whoever answers the phone needs to treat these calls with urgency and exude sympathy within their tone. If your caller is a prospect looking for information about your company, you want to be charming.
Your greeting on the phone sets the tone for the entire conversation. The very first words you speak need to communicate: “I am a friendly, intelligent professional, and I am very happy to speak with you right now.” Weirdly enough, pretending that you’re in front of the caller will make you sound more inviting. Even smiling when you’re on the phone makes a noticeable difference on the other end.
If you’re talking to a first-time caller, this may be their first interaction with you. You’ll want to communicate in a manner in line with your brand. If that’s excitable with a go-getter mentality, that’s how you should come off. If your brand feels more methodical and strategic, your tone should match that feeling.
Some callers will be more or less receptive to your wonderful greeting. So while you want to stay on brand, you also want to match the way that your caller responds to your tone. If they skip formalities and get right to the point, you should respond with short, concise answers, while remaining pleasant and approachable.
Slower speakers – perhaps those that may not even speak English as a first language – require slower, more deliberate responses and strong articulation. Speaking too quickly to these callers might intimidate them, despite your use of an inviting tone. If you think you're talking to an ESL individual, you should also repeat back what they say to you, because they may understand English better than they speak it.
Sometimes you might have trouble hearing a caller. But you never want to blame their phone or signal. Politeness is key here. There’s nothing wrong with saying "I apologize! I’m having a little trouble hearing you, do you mind repeating that?" Look for opportunities to use powerfully-positive words, such as:
You can never truly be too helpful. If you need to confirm or verify information, think of creative ways to maintain a pleasant experience. For example, if you need to confirm the spelling of someone’s name, you could say, “Did you say Y, as in ‘You’re Awesome?’” Of course, if such peppiness clashes with your brand, you’ll want to be creative in line with your company image.
Callers like to feel that they’re in control of a conversation. And truthfully, they should be – they’re the ones that reached out to you. Refrain from demands such as “I need your phone number,” or “I need to put you on hold.”
If you ask their permission – even when it seems unnecessary – you can give your caller that feeling of control they want. For example, before you ask your caller a question, seek permission to ask, saying “May I ask?” or “May I take your information?”
Two little words that can make the entire conversation. Show your appreciation for your prospect or customer’s call by sprinkling thank you throughout your conversation. “Thank you” reflects your friendliness and dedication to serving your caller.
Confidence is everything. It’s the key to any productive interaction. It shows that you know what you’re talking about. You should speak to your caller like there’s no one else in the office who can take better care of them than you can.
Of course, blind confidence is never as good as deserved confidence. You or your team member(s) must be well trained and versed in the various situations they come up on the phone, especially how to manage a complaint. If your confidence stems from knowledge and familiarity, you’ll be primed to handle any call.
You’re not going to have the answer to every question. But that’s okay – as long as you’re able to reply in a way that demonstrates that finding the right answer is your top priority. Phrases such as, “That’s a great question!” and “I want to make sure I find the correct answer for you” show that you’re confident in your ability to help the caller, even if you don’t know the exact answer to their request.
Especially when callers are new to your company, make sure you define clear next steps for the both of you. Booking an appointment, connecting your caller with sales, scheduling a visit to your office – these all keep callers engaged with your brand. Defining clear next steps positions your business in the front of your prospects’ minds.
Use the tips outlined in this article to solidify your caller experience and start getting more out of your phone calls.
It may seem trivial, but every word on a phone call matters – and how you say those words can matter even more. Without giving proper attention to the way you speak to your callers, you could miss out on the potential revenue that comes with great customer service.
If you feel like you and your team are ill-equipped to provide the kind of caller experience that impacts your bottom line, consider how an answering service can change your business.
Click below to download the infographic and discover the benefits and stats behind partnering with an answering service.