Phone calls are still (very much) a part of modern business. While Millennial and Gen Z customers might sometimes use social media for customer support, they still prefer a live human on the phone. Providing great customer service means planning for effective phone answering. After answering the phone for Canadian small businesses and organizations of all kinds for over 55 years, we’ve distilled a shortlist of key factors to successful phone answering for businesses.
No matter who answers the phone at your company, the greeting should be the same. Standardized greetings and communication tell your customers what to expect. A uniform greeting helps make customers feel comfortable when calling and reduces anxiety about the conversation.
Don’t answer business phone calls on your cell phone. And definitely don’t answer with just “hello”. First, you need a business phone number, then you need to identify your business immediately so callers don’t have to second guess whether they called the right number. Something friendly, direct, and confirms the company the caller is trying to reach is often the most effective. For example, if your company name is ABC widgets your greeting might sound like this: Hello ABC Widgets, this is Tanya. How can I help you today? Adding the first name of the person on the phone helps the caller feel a connection with the representative on the other end.
Be available 24/7
Customer expectations have changed over the past 20 years. Smartphones and the internet have made immediate access to information the new standard. Our customer's expectation for support has moved in lockstep with this new accessibility standard. It’s never been more important to be available for customers whenever they call.
If a customer calls you after regular business hours, they often won’t wait patiently for you to open the following day, they’ll simply call a competitor that is open when they call. As NFL coach Bill Parcels once said “availability is the best ability”.
Repeat and confirm
When taking information from a customer it’s best practice to repeat and confirm the information collected, especially phone numbers, addresses, or anything that could easily throw off the results of an otherwise great phone call.
Okay, hear us out. Even though you are taking a phone call, you should still smile while talking to your customers. As weird as it sounds, your customers will notice the tone of voice and inflection from your customer service rep. It’s easier to be helpful and pleasant while smiling, and more difficult to be drab or disagreeable when smiling. This is an industry secret that can transform the quality of your business phone answering.
Providing brilliant customer service and phone support doesn’t mean first-call resolution every time. Often, the winning formula is about empathizing with your customers. Luckily, empathy is a learned skill. We train for it here at Telelink and have a few tips that can help improve your phone answering using empathy today. Create habits for your customer support team by using empathy-friendly phrases like:
- “I can understand how frustrating it is when...”
- “I realize how complicated it is...”
- “I know how confusing it is...”
- “I imagine how upsetting it is to...”
Using statements like these are the first steps toward cultivating empathetic customer service. Check out the full guide to empathy in customer service here.
Retain good customers
If your business phone answering can include all six of the tips prescribed above, you’ll retain customers longer, keep customers from going to competitors, and win more business simply by capturing every call. To learn more about effective phone answering for business, please visit our website here.