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0 comments | Posted by: Terri on November 27, 2012 | Categories:
We’ve all heard of the importance of first impressions. Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, in a Psychology Today article, states “The first thing you learn about someone influences everything else you learn about that person.” Meaning, the first impression you make with a client is extremely important, as it’ll ripple across every other interaction you’ll have with them. With this in mind, men and women in business devote massive amounts of time and energy to appearance—such as grooming and body language—in an effort to convey an air of confidence and trustworthiness to customers.
Surprisingly, not as much effort is extended towards the customers whose first point of contact is a phone call. In the 2012 Customer Tipping Point Survey by ClickFox, 54% of customers were said to lash out after a bad customer service experience by complaining to friends and family. Separate studies show the opinions of friends and family hold more sway than any marketing tool the cleverest ad executive could think up. One bad 30-second phone call could cost you not only the caller’s business, but the business of everyone in that caller’s social sphere.
Below are three tips to ensure your over-the-phone first impression is the equivalent of a nice suit and warm smile:
We humans are perceptive creatures. Amy Cuddy, of Harvard Business School, discovered that when meeting someone for the first time, we gauge two characteristics: trustworthiness and confidence. And trustworthiness trumps confidence in importance. We can typically tell, even if it’s on a subconscious level, when someone is being authentic. Say what you mean and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Honesty goes a long ways with today’s media-savvy consumers.
A calm, confident tone of voice is the firm handshake of telecommunication. Your tone of voice is responsible for 38% of the way your words are interpreted. An assertive, engaged tone will tell your callers you’re an authority, while a bored monotone will make your customers feel you’ve no interest in helping. Eliminate filler words, such as “um,” “ah” or “like,” and avoid letting your voice go up at the end of a statement, making it sound like a question. Try recording your voice and playing it back. It may surprise you.
Focus on the caller
In all this effort to make the best first impression possible, it’s easy to focus solely on what you’re saying and how you sound. But remember, it’s not about you. It’s about the customer’s experience in that moment. Practice the above tips until they’re second nature, and use the phone call to make your customer feel they’re the center of your attention. Listen to and absorb what they’re saying. When it comes down to it, all any customer really wants is to be heard.
Our AnswerConnect virtual receptionists have the first impression thing down pat. Often, we’re the first point of contact between a company and their customers, and it’s up to us to decide if the impression we give on behalf of the company is a great one or a mediocre one. We’re experts at making sure it’s the best one. How do you ensure your callers get a great first impression? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
0 comments | Posted by: Terri on November 13, 2012 | Categories:
Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, but the effects of the largest recorded Atlantic hurricane continue to ripple throughout the United States. Here at AnswerConnect, our virtual receptionists have been fielding calls left and right for insurance agencies, renovation companies, disaster-response teams and other recovery-related companies as both businesses and homeowners begin the process of recovering from the devastating storm.
In the aftermath of disaster, good customer service isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Many of the callers we’ve been helping are exhausted, stressed and in desperate need of a friendly voice. Below are three techniques our associates use to ensure every customer feels they’re getting the best care during a difficult time:
Empathy is the foundation of good customer service anytime; it’s importance is magnified during a crisis. Keep in mind, those few minutes you spend with each customer is just a snapshot of their day. You can’t really know what they’ve been dealing with before they’ve crossed your path, but you can use that brief moment of contact as an opportunity to offer understanding and support. Your patience will make an impression.
Tone of Voice
When a frantic customer calls with a rushed tone of voice, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to match their pace. Awareness of that reflex is half the battle. Try to keep your voice even and measured instead, striking a balance somewhere between calm and efficient. Too soothing may come across as patronizing, make sure you still convey you understand the urgency of the situation.
Outline a Plan
Depending on your role, you may not be in a position to be able to fulfill customer’s request right away. But this doesn’t mean you can’t help them. Tell them what you can do, even if it’s something as small as making sure their information gets to the right person. More often than not, letting them know exactly what you will do, and the outcome they can expect, will offer much needed reassurance. Most importantly, make sure you follow through with your plan. There’s no quicker way to lose trust than by not keeping your word.
AnswerConnect saw a significant increase in call volume as many of our East Coast clients evacuated their offices over Halloween weekend. Our clients knew they could rely on us in their time of need, and rising to the call of duty was our pleasure. What other disaster recovery plans should companies have in place? Leave your comments below!
As Senior Account Manager of Client Services, Andrea Seelye has the role of managing clients, mentoring/training new Client Services team members and advising coworkers on difficult situations. Customers don’t typically call a client services department when everything is working perfectly. Most people call when something has gone awry. Her best tip: “Frustrated clients can be challenging. The best way I’ve found to handle those situations is listening to the client’s frustrations and working to resolve the situation not only for that particular client, but for all our clients. If one client is expressing frustration about a concern, there are five others that are frustrated but not telling us about it. The key is taking the client’s feedback and using it to make our service better all around.”
Below, Andrea answers the top five questions most often asked of our Client Services Team:
How can I update my account information?
The great thing about our model is that our clients have a dedicated Account Manager they can reach out to—directly or through another member of the Client Services Team. We accept updates by phone and email, whichever is more convenient.
How can I view and/or change my script?
Our Client Web Access—found at http://access.answeranswerconnect.com—has a great tool for viewing scripts under the “Agent View” tab. It gives our clients a view into our messaging system so they can see exactly what our associates see. At this point, we’re not set up to accept script changes online; but with our iOS and Android app you can update your status at anytime from your phone. We’re working on an update that will make it possible for clients to change their scripting directly from Client Web Access, but for now our team is always happy to accept updates by phone or email.
Why aren’t I receiving my messages?
I always recommend checking the spam/junk folder of the email address not receiving messages. Since our service sends out many emails each day, we occasionally get flagged as spam. If the messages aren’t showing up in the spam/junk folder, check Client Web Access to confirm we’ve taken messages recently. Please contact client services if you need help with further trouble-shooting. We’re always happy to help out!
Where can I view my invoice?
We’ve made all previous invoices available under the “View Bills” tab in Client Web Access. We can also send one-time email requests for our customers. Just let us know which invoice you need, and we can send it over as a PDF.
What other services are available?
AnswerConnect isn’t just an answering service anymore. We’re constantly working to add more features to make the service more of a business solution service. Aside from our Client Web Access, we now offer a mobile application—for both iPhone and Android—IVRs, lead generation, appointment setting and task management services.
Thanks, Andrea, for your insight! We’re glad our clients are in your capable hands.
0 comments | Posted by: Spencer on May 25, 2012 | Categories:
Dr. Jim Reynaud approaches his practice, Reynaud Chiropractic, and his patients’ health through a collaborative, holistic approach: self-care, healthy food, consistent exercise, spirituality, spinal manipulation, and utterly pragmatic advice. Discussing health with Dr. Reynaud is nothing if not empowering. “The brain communicates with every tissue in the body,” Dr. Reynaud says. “Every tissue is controlled by the nervous system. The nerves communicate back and forth with the brain. If that’s the case, if there’s proper communication, then the body has everything it needs to repair itself.”
What led you to practice chiropractic medicine?
I was a journeyman carpenter by trade, and I screwed up my back. Someone wanted to do surgery on me. I said, “No. I’ll try this quackery thing called ‘chiropractic.’” I was so dramatically helped by a chiropractor, the next thing I knew, I was one—six years of school later.
How does a chiropractic approach to patient health differ from, for example, a general practitioner’s or other allopathic practice?
I’ll use analogies more than descriptions.
If you get a headache, well, some doctors say, “Let’s give you an aspirin to kill the pain.” But what if that headache indicates a hormonal imbalance? Sometimes, with a female patient, you adjust their lower back and the headache goes away. Women, of course, are on a repeating 28-day cycle. Throughout the first 14 days of that cycle, they’re pumping out estrogen, which is a vasodilator. They’re getting ready to make a baby. If nothing happens, the body says, “Man, that didn’t work,” so it turns off the estrogen and turns on the progesterone, which is a vasoconstrictor. There are two other tissues subject to that effect—those of blood vessels and the alimentary tract. [Symptomatically,] they also get headaches. So if you free up the nerve communication between the brain, ovaries and the uterus, the brain coordinates that, if it’s gotten out of coordination.
Sometimes, if you adjust the patient’s lower back, the brain says, “Oh, that’s what you were trying to yell at me.” I’ve had patients who, with no uncertainty, have said that I’ve allowed them to get pregnant. That’s not me. That’s a gift of the universe.
That whole scenario exists for the whole body. Think about that.
Another analogy: Our stomachs produce a pH of 2.5. That’s some bad-ass acid. But we also produce a mucous inside our stomach lining that prevents us from getting eaten up from the inside. If that’s wrong, if that’s out of balance, we get an ulcer.
Some chiropractors say that if you keep the body in perfect communication with itself, you don’t have all these maladies.
Can you describe your practice?
I don’t know if my practice is unique, but it’s not conventional. I’m the only one here every day. My first 18 years of practice was fairly conventional. I had an office manager and a bunch of massage therapists; my patients came and went; we billed insurance. At one point, I was an independent medical examiner.
Now I have a small office. I’m the only one here. I don’t bill insurance anymore; I’m cash-only. I get a lot of drop-ins. So I’m very low-key. I mean, I’m standing here in Levis. I try to wear a nice shirt. My patients come and go as they see fit.
When you began your chiropractic practice in 1984, how did the practice differ from practicing in 2012? I’m thinking specifically of the Wilk v. American Medical Association antitrust suit back in 1987.
Chiropractic medicine is climbing out of a hole that the Big Five trial cleared the legal path from, but it didn’t clear our name. Let’s face it, [the AMA] had tried to set out a smear campaign. That stuff goes away slowly. Chiropractic practice has evolved into more public acceptance, obviously, as doctors of chiropractic medicine began sounding more intelligent and started accepting more their intelligence. There used to be this mentality: “We don’t want to be doctors.” But I think chiropractic medicine have evolved into “If we want to be doctors, we should be.”
How does chiropractic manipulation work?
There are some chiropractors who just crack. You get a minute and half with them: They pop your spine, they twist your neck, you’re out of there.
What I do, there’s more to the body than the spine. I do muscle work. I do deep tendon massage. My adjustments take 12-15 minutes. I work out muscle spasms; I try to loosen up the spine and the soft tissue along the spine before I manipulate anything.
Manipulations are more about freeing up restricted movements. Vertebrae, over the course of time, develop movement patterns. This can restrict nerve flow. I work with the soft tissue, doing massage for 5-10 minutes, then I go to the manipulation part—putting vertebrae that are stuck back into motion.
From your perspective, why is consistent good health hard to maintain or achieve?
There are so many roadblocks.
It’s less expensive to eat shitty. So people are going to want to eat that way. The education as far as good overall eating goes—we are such products of a propaganda machine. Everyone thinks that this hamburger from McDonalds has green in it, so it must be healthy.
Big Pharma tells us that we just need to put this drug or this vaccine in our body, and that’s what health is about. We talk about health insurance, but it’s really repair care. Our idea of health is if we catch this cold early enough, we’ll stop it.
Try this: If you treat your body well, give the right food, and you exercise and take care of your spirituality, you’ll have health. Don’t worry about repairing yourself. Just maintain a healthy lifestyle. That’s my thing. Get off the propaganda wagon from insurance, Big Pharma and the junk food industry. Or cheap food; the idea that we don’t care what the calories are made of, just give it to the body.
Quite truthfully, the biggest impediment to health is decadence. Our country has risen through a state of affluence into decadence. This is decay. I’m talking about mental and financial decay. We’ve taken ourselves out of the need to find good food, to walk, to exercise, to enjoy each other’s company. We rush through dinner so much that we can’t enjoy each other’s company for three or four hours. We’ve risen our level of stress into a level of decadence, into a level of decay.
Why is spinal health, specifically, so critical to general health?
Think of intelligence. You take one big cell and add a bunch of little cells—each has intelligence in there; I don’t care if it’s God intelligence or DNA or what it is—but when we’re born, there’s roughly 3 trillion cells, and they continue differentiating themselves. That’s major intelligence. That’s phenomenal. It’s mind-boggling.
Chiropractors believe that intelligence is housed in the brain. The brain communicates with every tissue in the body. Every tissue is controlled by the nervous system. The nerves communicate back and forth with the brain. If that’s the case, if there’s proper communication, then the body has everything it needs to repair itself, to handle the food that we eat.
So chiropractors, working on the nervous system, know it carries information back and forth and coordinates into one homeostatic being. One place that chiropractors have identified as an impediment to proper nerve transmission is the spine. So the biggest bang for the buck is opening up, freeing up the nerves around the spine. You’re freeing up communication, so then the brain knows what everybody [every tissue] is doing.
How much of your practice revolves around behavioral modification and patient education, regarding self-care?
When I was more energetic, I used to create workout pamphlets 12 pages long. Each patient got a workout regimen from me. In some respects, I’ve eased up on that. But “doctor” and “docent” have the same root word. They’re both teachers. If my patients are interested, I’ll teach them.
AnswerConnect has always advocated going paperless. You’re hard-pressed to find a printer in our office. (Well, there is one. It’s tucked away and used so rarely the sound startles nearby associates.) We prefer the easy access and improved collaboration of Google Docs and other cloud-based software. Then there’s the sense of satisfaction that comes with the huge decrease in our annual waste production.
So it was only a matter of time until we phased out paper bills. New clients are automatically enrolled into our paperless billing program, and we’re currently working on switching over all of our existing clients. Here are a couple reasons why you may love the new paperless billing as much as we do:
It’s much easier to organize bills on a computer desktop than on a wooden one. Paperless bills mean no more clutter. Take a look at your desk. It’s possible you’re a naturally organized person and your bills are stacked and filed neatly away. Or it takes fifteen minutes of digging through drawers to find a bill when you need it. Either way, no more bills accidentally ending up in the recycling bin or getting lost between the desk and the wall. Your bills are archived, organized and accessible from any location.
Paper makes up the largest percentage of municipal solid waste. In 2010, paper and paperboard made up 29% of municipal trash in the United States. Office buildings are responsible for a hefty portion with the average office worker using approximately 10,000 sheets of paper annually. We’ve done our best to reduce our contribution by virtually eliminating office paper, but generating monthly paper bills for thousands of clients adds up. Paperless billing felt like the next step.
AnswerConnect strives to be a green office. We’ve switched to non-disposable dishes in our break room and energy-efficient bulbs in our light fixtures. We’re thrilled to make another change that is environmentally beneficial, cost-efficient and convenient for our clients. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.