The answer is a resounding YES!
If statistics are to be believed, 98% of people say poor phone handling gives a bad impression of a company straight away (and 69% will not call back).
How you answer the phone can have a drastic effect on your bottom line. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
■You only get one chance to create a first impression, and for many customers the first opportunity to speak directly to your company is via the telephone.
■It is therefore vital for the future of your business that you get this area right. The first call could easily be the first step in a long term business relationship. This creates loyal and happy customers.
WHO ANSWERS THE PHONE – 3 rings rule
■Can anyone pick up the phone when it rings or is there a dedicated person who always answers the phone?
■Make sure that staff are aware of who should and can answer the phone; ideally you want the phone to be picked up within three rings. If staff, assume that someone else will pick up the phone, you may not hit the three ring target.
HOW TO ANSWER THE CALL
■When staff pick up the phone, make sure the caller feels welcome, provide the caller with the correct information in the right tone.
■Use the Smile Rule. Putting a smile on your face will be reflected in your tone.
■Speak clearly and slowly.
■Answer with the company name, identify yourself and offer help.
■Ask for the caller’s name and company – try to use their name in the beginning, middle and end.
■Listen attentively by not being distracted by other irrelevant tasks, make notes.
■Ask questions but do not interrupt the caller or pre-empt what they are about to say.
SCREENING CALLS AND PUTTING CALLERS ON HOLD
■When screening calls, always ask “who may I say is calling”.
■If you need to place the customer on hold, ask them if you can put them on hold. Always let the callers know what you are doing, check every 30 seconds they are ok. Thank them for holding.
■If the caller wishes to leave a message, identify the main issue for the caller and gather all the information so this can be passed onto the appropriate member of staff.
■When taking a message ask for their name (first and last), who the message is for, name of company, their phone number (plus area codes), the message, urgency, best time to call back, date and time of call.
■Repeat the message back to the caller, request them to repeat or even spell their name if you are unsure.
DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS
■Never lose your temper, keep calm.
■Identify the problem and how to address the callers concerns.
■If you are unsure you may need to pass the call onto another member of staff or arrange to call the caller back, at a convenient date and time.
LAST IMPRESSIONS COUNT TOO
■The last 30 seconds is equally important as the first 30 seconds.
■This time will reinforce their perception of your company.
■Thank them for the call, recap the reason why they called and how you could help, and if appropriate thank them for their continued business.
■Let them hang up first; this gives them the opportunity to say something they may have forgotten.
Outsourcing to a professional telephone answering service can also prove to be highly beneficial since the operators are highly trained and abide to all of the above rules at all time. It is their job to ensure that your customers are happy.