When was the last time you updated the message on your answering machine? Did you ever call your employees from a private number, under a made-up name, just to hear how they handle calls?
I was watching a TV show the other night when one of main issues and reasons for a failing business was unprofessional staff and non-existing phone etiquette. A couple of days later, I came across this article in NYER by Randi Busse “You Lost Me at Hello” and I couldn’t help but wonder…
… How much attention do you pay to your business’ voice?
It’s not only the message you record on your answering machine (I discussed this with Bernie Wagenblast here), or the way you and your employees answer the phone. As you can see in the above mentioned article, it’s equally important to have certain policies in place for to ensure that even the simplest procedures (i.e. putting the caller on hold, transferring calls) are consistently executed.
I recall a few years go, a woman called and inquired about services of my then employer. She was very hesitant and insecure but in the end decided to book our services anyway, saying that she “felt a good and trustworthy energy.” My boss happened to be sitting next to me and overheard our conversation. When the call ended, the boss was very pleased with the manner in which I answered all the questions and reassured the caller that we were there to help her. Well, since I haven’t been trained on how to handle “difficult” callers at the time, I was just following my instincts. But imagine what would have happened if one of my less patient and insensitive coworkers had picked up the phone?
The advise I’d like to give you is to always keep in mind that the phone etiquette is not only for big corporations, calling centers and customer service department. It is just as vital part of your operations because when a potential client calls your office, this might be the very first impression he or she gets of your business – and it could also be the last contact. This is why it is so important to address your front-line, phone communication, as part of your overall business strategy.
You can resort to hiring a phone answering service or a virtual assistant to handle your day-to-day, even after-hours, phone traffic.
What are your experiences with phone communication and what policies have you put in place to assure the professionalism and to address these challenges?