The Importance of Phone Etiquette

You have often heard the phrase that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Are the people answering your phones helping or hurting your business?

Here are 5 things to focus on when training your receptionists and inside sales people on acceptable phone etiquette.

Generally speaking, you should encourage staff members who answer the phones to be:

  • Courteous
  • Friendly
  • Eager

Make it clear that when answering the phone it is not only that your employees simply assist callers, but at the minimum your employees need to employ these 3 qualities to turn more prospects into customers. The people answering your phones should be eager to help and to go the extra mile to find solutions to your customers’ challenges.Document your prospects information first! If you have the customers’ name, address, phone number, and email your representative will have the ability to call the customer back if anything should happen during the call like an accidental disconnect. If your potential customer didn’t set an appointment why didn’t they? Managers should follow-up by reviewing call logs and tracking those calls to determine closing ratios, then follow-up with those customers that for whatever reason didn’t schedule an appointment.

  1.  Many untrained receptionists will unload everything they know about the company on the customer. No doubt this is good information, but not necessarily at the time of the call. There is nothing wrong with stating the positive attributes of the company. Your customer service representative must remember the goal – get your prospect to commit to an initial consultation.
  2.  Build Rapport and focus on the needs of your prospective customer. Throughout the conversation your phone team should be building rapport with the prospect. One of the best ways to do this is to train your staff to refer to your prospective client by name and ask the customer questions about themselves and their needs. Once you understand what their needs are, you can frame your experience to your customers’ needs.
  3.  Be flexible! There is nothing worse than calling a company and inquiring about the company’s services only to hit a wall at each turn. The following are not acceptable solutions to your prospects needs:
    • We’re not open
    • Were booked out 3 weeks in advance
    • We will call you when we have an opening

    Your customers don’t care about your scheduling issues or that your installer needs a 2-hour lunch break. Don’t make excuses. Learn to accommodate to your customers’ terms.

  4. Always honor commitments presented to customers. For example, if your prospective customer is told that an issue will be investigated in a particular period of time, then it is imperative that your company’s first-contact get back with the customer within the designated period of time. If the customer is told they will be given a call back in 2 hours, then they need to be given a call back in 2 hours. If a commitment is broken then from your prospects’ perspective breaking small commitments leads to bigger ones. Be warned, if commitments are not respected then your prospective customers’ confidence will most assuredly be lost. Your goal should be to exceed expectations at every opportunity.

Many businesses don’t particularly need more prospective customers, your firm needs to do a more efficient job with the opportunities that do arise.  Don’t assume because your receptionist has 10-years of experience that she necessarily knows how to answer the phone in a fashion that best represents your firm.

Make on-going training and continuous-improvement a priority in your company and the profits will follow.

Derek Thielen
Small business coach and Velocity Marketer.

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