You’ve probably heard complaints about customer service in this country. Clients exclaiming that customer service relations have gone downhill and it’s not like it used to be. As a business owner, you can use this to your advantage and separate yourself from the pack. Your customer service is fully within your control. Not only will good customer service pay off in the long run, but with the available phone tracking technology available, you can scrutinize phone calls and be sure to convert a lead into a customer.
Customer service starts with the owner. The person who answers your company’s phone is a direct reflection of you. A caller can quickly sense the attitude of the staff member who is providing the customer service. The attitude reflects the company culture. Shouldn’t the first impression of your business be overwhelmingly positive? After all, first impressions affect how customers will interact with your company through a project. Positively or negatively, it will ultimately influence other potential customers due to word-of-mouth and online reviews.
As a consultant, I’ve listened to hundreds of recorded phone calls, and there are frequent mistakes that I often hear. Below please find my tips on how to avoid these common errors:
* “Hold on, let me get some information from you. I need to find a pen.” (10 to 15 seconds go by…and silence.)
The customer service representative isn’t ready to take information when the phone rings? Every morning, be sure that every phone station is armed with a supply of lead information forms or that the computer is turned on and ready before the first call is received.
* “Please stay on the line. Someone will be with you shortly.”
This call recording is answered on behalf of a small local company by a large appointment-setting company that is not intimately familiar with the market or the product. The hold time can be as much as three minutes. When asked about this, the company owner said he didn’t like to answer calls himself, and that using an appointment-setting company was more efficient. How patient you are you as a customer? Don’t you want to feel as if you’re speaking with a company representative? If you’re short-staffed, consider hiring a part-timer, such as a stay-at-home mom with school-aged children. This person might be available between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays to answer calls and handle a variety of office tasks. Chances are this person will be highly educated and motivated, and will take your customer service up a few notches.
* The shouter who answers, “XYZ Company, HOW MAY I HELP YOU?”
Play the recording back to the call answerer and discuss how he or she can reduce the volume but still sound enthusiastic.
* The receptionist who is ready to argue with a customer. (I really heard an argument.)
Establish an escalation process to a staff member who can speak to a dissatisfied customer. Train the person on the front line how to handle upset customers in a polite and professional manner.
* “Let me transfer you to Mike’s voicemail. He can answer your question.” “Okay, when might he get back to me?” “I’m not sure. He’s really busy.”
Before sending a valued customer to voicemail purgatory, why not establish a procedure where the phone answerer takes the details and relays the issue and the caller’s number to the colleague personally.
* The inclination to get a caller’s name and address so quickly that the customer service representative actually interrupts the caller before they are given the opportunity to discuss the issue they’re having or to establish trust with your company.
Let the customer explain. Tell them that you’re glad they contacted you, and that you have the solutions to help.
* An answering service which didn’t follow the script.
Upon listening to the recordings for the first time, the company owner went ballistic on the answering service. When using a service, be sure to provide a clear script, properly train each new employee, and hire mystery shoppers to call.
Tip: Monitor how calls are handled after hours.
For an eye-opening experience about how your customers perceive you, integrate phone tracking technology into your business operations. It’s not expensive and it’s very valuable. It will help you integrate real “customer service” into your company’s DNA, and make potential customers want to do business with you.