How to ensure you make the best phone impression ...
As a business owner, you need to pay careful attention to the way you handle your phone calls. Why? In short, the professionalism you show when answering calls sets the tone for your ongoing relationships ...
But not only that ... your phone manner also gives a split-second insight into what your firm will be like to work with. And if you get that impression wrong, it could be costly.
As a Call Handling professional I've got a sharp ear for a poor telephone manner - and I know the detrimental impact a sloppy approach to the phone can have. On the flip side, I've seen, first hand, just what happens when businesses get it right.
"So let me share some tried-and-tested Call Handling tips, which you can implement into your business right away!"
Let's start with the Call Handling basics. This is an obvious one, but a tip that far too many businesses overlook (or ignore):
Answer your phone!
This first rule of professional Call Handling is to answer your phone - ALWAYS - no excuses.
If you implement robust processes in your business to ensure that a customer/prospect always gets to speak with a real person when they call your advertised number, you'll be leaps ahead of most of your competitors.
It continues to surprise me that so many businesses don't make a determined effort to pick up every time. Not only does this decision result in lost sales (because an unanswered call goes elsewhere), but it also sows a tiny seed of doubt. "If they don't answer my call now, what will happen when I do become a customer and urgently need to speak with someone who can help?"
Take good notes
Once a customer has phoned to speak with you, take full responsibility for the information that they share - in short, take good notes. You may have experienced this yourself. There's nothing more frustrating (from a caller's perspective) than speaking to one person only to have to repeat everything you've just said to someone else!
If it helps, create a structured contact form and keep it on your desk. Not only can this help guide your phone calls, but it will also ensure you don't forget any significant details.
Check the caller is happy
Aim to finish the call with a clear course of action - and check that the caller is satisfied. For example, if you take a message with the intention of getting a colleague to call back, lay out the expectations. Tell the caller what you plan to do so they feel informed and heard. This will improve your customer service and their impression of your business.
OK, I know it sounds really cheesy, but callers can hear a smile over the phone. It's important to build rapport with callers. Aim to make them feel valued and respected. A smile goes a long way and can help break down boundaries and build a relationship.
When it comes to Call Handling basics, it goes without saying that listening skills are crucial. So avoid the temptation to assume and use open questions to allow callers the freedom to say what they really mean.
If you know that you can't possibly answer your phone every time that it rings, get some help! You know what it's like. you take a comfort break and then the phone rings!
Whilst the phone is a critical tool for your business, it can also be a distraction if not managed properly. But remember ... just because it's your phone, it doesn't mean you need to take responsibility for answering it all of the time. In fact, if you are the face of your business, adding that 'extra layer' of contact can boost your credibility.
A professional Call Handling service can help with this. Simply divert your phone to your chosen supplier when you're unable to pick up and they can handle your calls on your behalf. For best results, look for a company that can answer your calls as if they were your employee.
What do you think?
How do you position the telephone within your business? What rules do you have for answering your phone? I'd love to hear your thoughts so please leave them in the comments below. And if I can help answer any questions, just give me a call on 01604 529170.
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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