Whilst online chat facilities, email and instant messaging has become a popular method of communication – verbal communication, whether face to face or over the phone, is still the most efficient and preferred method.
That being said, whilst most people still prefer to use the phone, that doesn’t mean everyone is fantastic at answering it. Let’s take a look at how businesses can address the ‘phone-a-phobic’ and ensure they get call answering right and create that positive first impression.
Speed of Answer
Speed is a virtue when answering the phone and taking your time not only can make your caller a little impatient but also risks them hanging up. That being said, pouncing a call within ½ a ring can appear a little abrupt and could suggest that you’ve nothing to do. A good target to aim for is answering all your calls within 20 seconds.
Yes, we know it’s a cliché but, receiving a call with a smile on your face is the best way to ensure people hear an upbeat tone. Smiling tends to create a happier and more welcoming tone when you lift the receiver – so even if you’re struggling with a spread sheet – smile when you lift the phone to sound warm and enthusiastic.
Confirm and Reconfirm
Many calls will result in you having to record information, whether names, phone number, account details etc. Where possible you should re-confirm the information you’ve taken is correct. Not only does this help to alleviate any errors but it helps in reassuring your caller that they’ve got your undivided attention.
Spell things phonetically
Learning the phonetic alphabet can make a big difference to taking and confirming information as it helps to reduce spelling mistakes. Heavy accents are not always easy to understand – spelling things out is a much more preferred than repeatedly asking someone to “…say that again please”
Be Positive & helpful
Even if you’re unable to help the caller directly, always be sure to remain positive and professional. Customers would much rather be briefly put on hold when you find an answer or someone more knowledgeable than for you to make a best guess
Call Backs – don’t over promise
Not every call can be resolved immediately. If the caller requires/requests, manage their expectations and give them a reasonable time in which to expect the call. Whilst it may seem like good customer service to say “we’ll call you back in 15 minutes” if this isn’t realistic it will have a significant negative impact on customer satisfaction. Better to overestimate and be seen to always deliver early.
Don’t keep people On-Hold
Callers hate being put on hold. Try to keep this time as short as possible and, if they are on hold for some time, regularly touch base so they know they haven’t been forgotten and always offer them a choice for a call back.
Handling Calls when you’re out and about
Many businesses simply don’t have the resource available to handle calls, especially those in the trade where most of the day is spent out of the office. Companies like www.aquariusuk.co.uk provide telephone answering and messaging services for the times when it’s just not possible for you to answer the phone. Your next big customer could call when you’re away from the phone so ensure all your bases are covered.