Ok, so a customer has found your business, has probably checked out your website and is now calling you to find out more about what you can offer them. This phone call is vital, it could be the difference between whether they give you their business or they don’t, so it’s in your interest to get it right!
Telephone etiquette is something so important to a business’ success and reputation yet many people seem to let it fall by the way side. Your potential customers should be made to feel valued or else they’ll hang up and look to one of your competitors. Telephone customer service can be a minefield of possible errors, so here at 08Direct we have created a top 10 list of tips of how to avoid customers hanging up, increasing the scope for new business and potential new revenue.
First Impressions – When a potential customer calls, they are looking for reasons as to why they should choose you as their service provider. So, first impressions are all-important and they can be boosted in a number of ways. These include through the phone number you are providing, the welcome message you record and the length of time it takes for you to answer the call. If your business is on the bigger side, use an IVR to make sure callers are able to direct their calls to the department they want.
Business vs. Personal – If you receive business and personal calls to the same phone, you will want to distinguish between the two so that you can answer the phone accordingly. If you use a non-geographic number, you can install a call whisper which will alert you to the fact you are receiving a business call before answering.
The Personal Touch – Once the phone call reaches a person, the initial response should be warm and professionally. You should introduce yourself and your position as this is proven to make the customer immediately feel comfortable and confident in speaking to you.
Empathise – It is important that you listen to your customer AND that you are interested in what they have to say. Once the customer has given you their name, use it. If you listen to and understand what the customer wants from the very beginning then you immediately begin to earn their trust, making it more and more likely they’ll keep coming back.
Know Your Audience – This one may seem obvious, but a potential customer isn’t a friend, not in the familiarity stakes anyway. You need to be friendly yes, but remember to be formal, professional and respectful. If you start using slang words or inappropriate language, the customer will start to think you and your business are unprofessional.
Company & Product Knowledge – The customer is calling you to find out information and will more than likely have questions, which it is vital that you, or whoever answers the phone, can give answers to. If you struggle to give clear and precise answers to the questions asked, the customer is likely to end up confused and dissatisfied. But, if you really don’t know, find someone who does and let them handle it!
Treat Customers as Individuals – Make sure customers are always made to feel important and that their call is valued. If you are speaking on the phone, that’s what you should be focusing on, leave any other tasks for when you’ve hung up, otherwise you’ll sound uninterested and the customer will not want what you’re selling.
Putting People on Hold – If you can avoid it, do. But, if you have to, ask the customer if it’s ok to do so and if you know you’ll be away for a while, warn them. Pre-empting any problems is better than making the customer feel like you’ve forgotten about them!
Voicemail – At times there will be occasions when you are unavailable to take a business call. It may be that you are meeting with clients or too busy to immediately answer the phone. On these occasions it is vital that you provide a professional voicemail and that you contact them back at the earliest opportunity.