The way you answer your phone says more about you and your business than you may realise. Your phone manner instantly sets a tone, allows your callers to form an impression subconsciously and can set the scene for a sale (or a retreat) ...
So how can you maximise the opportunity in front of you when the phone rings? Here are some tried and trusted ideas:
Answer the darn phone!
OK, so this is hardly rocket science! It's pretty obvious that if you fail to pick up, an opportunity is lost. But despite this common sense statement, all too many businesses are letting enquiries go to waste because of their slack approach to inbound calls.
Ideally, you need to answer within three rings. You don't want to leave callers waiting (we're an inherently impatient species!) and you want to minimise the risk that your caller will go elsewhere because they can't get through to you.
Introduce this simple principle and you'll be amazed at the impact on your business.
Your underlying mood will come through when you answer your phone. So if you're frustrated or angry when you pick up, your caller will catch onto this. As you can imagine, this kind of attitude does little for building a good customer relationship.
As a result, smile when you speak - it sounds a little cheesy, but I promise the impact on your caller will surprise you. Somehow, you can 'hear' a smile on the other end of the phone. And as you know, a beaming smile can disarm people, help callers relax and create the best space for your call to take place.
Don't just say 'hello'! Your caller wants confirmation that they've reached the right person. As a result, make sure you introduce your business and even say your name. This announcement will reassure your caller and is a good way to start off a conversation.
Have a pen and paper handy when answering calls so that you can take notes. Don't forget crucial details such as the caller's name and a number where you can reach them. Also, jot down the key points of the message. Don't rely on your memory. Lots of things are going to happen after your call and you don't want to look foolish by forgetting a critical piece of information.
Seek to help
Where possible, answer your caller's enquiry there and then. That way they get a definitive answer and a good outcome from their call. Of course, there will be times when this simply isn't possible.
For example, you may not know the answer - or the person they wish to speak with is unavailable. In this case, tell your caller what you intend to do to satisfy their enquiry. You could tell them when you'll call back with the right information. Do this and you won't leave your callers confused. Instead you'll leave them with certainty.
Assess who's answering your phone
Your inbound Call Handling is a vitally important role in your business. You need to ensure it's handled correctly and by the right person. If you are still answering your own calls then I would question this.
Being the first point of contact in your business is NOT the best use of your time. Don't forget, the answering of your incoming calls is an activity that you can easily outsource (and my team of Genies can help).
If you delegate this task to your team, do check the quality of interaction that callers have with your staff. Remember, first impressions are all-important. The wrong telephone manner could damage your reputation and harm your bottom line.
Don't screw up your inbound Call Handling
Your inbound phone line is one of your most powerful business weapons - so it pays to ensure that when you answer, you make the right impression. With this in mind, it's worth assessing the importance that you place on your incoming calls.
It's worth taking a close look to see what you're doing well (and what you could improve). I think you'll be surprised at the wider impact this will have.
Until next time ...
If you want to talk about improving your customers' experience with advanced inbound Call Handling, then feel free to give me a ring on 01604 529170. Speak soon :-)
More about Jacqui Frost ...
THE OFFICE GENIE
I had a successful 20-year career as an office manager and personal assistant; however, my job was no longer focused on the customers and became all about the numbers. My customer-focused background began when I was 12 in my father's independent carpet showroom. I had a spell with Marks & Spencer before I moved into office-based jobs. I have worked as a training administrator, a PA and PA/office manager in a variety of industries from manufacturing to the IT education sector.
Meanwhile, my husband Ian, a successful Northampton based Master Decorator and owner of Rainbow Frost, was losing out on work due to missed phone calls. When he was busy, callers were getting his voicemail but weren't leaving messages. I knew how to fix that problem!
I quit my job and took on Ian as the first client of The Office Genie in November 2005. Word quickly spread with the second client coming on board just one week later. The majority of our clients since have come to us through word of mouth recommendations and networking referrals. Over the years, I have become well connected in Northampton and Milton Keynes.
Outside of work I enjoy swimming, roller skating, the theatre and my cats and dogs!
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