As a professional, award-winning answering service, dispatch service and call center, we know how to answer business phone lines. Our operators have extensive training on how to handle phone calls, and on our customers’ business models. Does your receptionist have that same level of training that we give our operators and are they as well paid as ours?
Don’t get mad, because most of you know what I am talking about. While your operators and receptionists are your first point of contact for most businesses, they are often the least qualified and the most poorly compensated, and therefore the turnover is high. You are sacrificing that initial good customer experience; in today’s economy, with so much competition for business, is that really wise?
Many companies learned the hard way that saving some money by moving their call centers to overseas countries is not really a good business model. When these companies eventually factored in the customer experience, and the ultimate loss of business the call centers cost them, they moved their operations back stateside.
Employing virtual receptionists, call-center personnel, and order entry people, as well as answering your phones–these are all things we not only do well, but we at Central Comm and South Coast Answering win awards for. If you aren’t quite ready to utilize our excellent services (but it’s difficult to understand why), I will give you some tips about what to do within your own operation to make your customers’ call-in experience better:
Train your new people. If at all possible, take at least a week and let someone who knows your operation inside and out sit periodically with your receptionist or operators.
- Make certain they know who does what; it’s all fine and good to say John is the CEO, but what does that mean to 20-year olds, fresh out of community college?
- If someone calls in and wants to buy our products, that goes to a Sales Person.
- If someone calls in and wants to sell us something, that goes to Purchasing.
- If someone calls in and is angry about a lack of service, stay calm, listen, and don’t put them on hold until you understand what the problem is and you know how to help them solve it.
- If you can’t figure out who can solve the problem quickly, then do these three things:
- Admit that you are temporarily stumped.
- Take down all of their information, and give them a time when you will call them back, whether you have a solution or not. People will be much more pleased with the proper attention and care.
- Give them your direct extension so they can call you back in case your time frames get stretched by unavoidable delays.
- Just because people can’t see you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t smile. A smile “shows” in your voice.
- Don’t yell back if someone is being extremely rude. Instead, do your best to calm them down, and explain that yelling might make them feel better, but what will work better is for them to let you help them versus just venting their anger.
- TMI–sometimes operators can get nervous or overwhelmed by a frantic customer. Take a deep breath, repeat back what the customer told you, and keep things simple. Don’t get caught up in big, complicated explanations.
- Be warm, but not cozy. You want to maintain a professional attitude with all of your customers and be careful of using slang or jargon, or using words such as “like” or “totally”.
- Speak clearly, and if you cannot hear everything a client is saying, then let them know instead of trying to guess and getting the wrong information. Don’t leave people on hold for too long–just about 30 to 45 seconds–then ask if the caller wishes to continue to hold or to call later.
Tips for this week from Pearl Answers