It is said that if a person has a positive experience with a brand, they’ll tell one friend, but if they have a bad experience, they’ll tell three. And the first interaction usually happens over the phone. Are your skills up to date? It is important to improve those call handling skills.
Actually, 77% of customers would recommend a brand to a friend after having a single positive experience. On the flip side, research by Esteban Kolsky found that 13% of unhappy customers will share their complaints with 15 or more people!
This brings us back to a universal truth offered by the late great Douglas Adams: “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special rules.”
The telephone is often the first (and, for some, the last) point of contact between prospects and your business. You only get one chance to make a first impression. But nailing that first introduction takes empathy, patience, and a little know-how.
Have a consistent greeting.
Consistency is key to brand recognition. When your customers call your business, they expect the same standard of service every time, and that starts from the moment you pick up the phone. It may sound like stating the obvious, but so many businesses forget to nail this down.
When prospects call your business for the first time, they want to know they’ve reached the right place. After the first few calls, your greeting will feel like that of an old friend. This is key in improving call handling.
68% of consumers would pay more for a company with good customer service. It is important to look for reliability in products and services. A consistent, on-brand greeting is the first step to that.
Give clear direction and time-frames.
An Oracle RightNow study found 73% of customers fall in love with a brand and remain loyal because of friendly customer service reps. And a huge part of that friendly brand image is down to clear direction and transparency on calls.
Transparency is essential to communication, but it’s also crucial to making people feel valued. When a caller knows exactly what you’re going to do to help them, they know they’re in safe hands.
You may not have all the answers to hand when you’re on a call, but that’s okay! In fact, callers will often appreciate your honesty if you tell them that you don’t know the answer. If you find yourself in this situation, be clear with your customer. Tell them how long it will take for their query to be resolved and show you value their time as much as your own. Follow up on that promise within the time frame given and you’ve instantly created trust.
Give closure to every interaction.
Even a simple question of “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” can be enough to make customers feel valued. It tells them they’re not just an issue to be fixed, they’re a valued customer.
Ensure you answered all their questions, and don’t forget to ask if there’s anything else you can do for them! It’s an opportunity to resolve all their issues at once. More importantly, it can lead to new conversations.
93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service. And the foundation of excellent customer service is ensuring all your callers’ needs have been met.
Actually answer your calls!
Surely, this is a given. But almost half of all customer calls are missed. That’s partly because 40% of business calls happen outside of business hours.
Short of keeping your receptionists in the office overnight (not advised), there’s no way to ensure every customer call is answered. But with an out-of-hours answering service, your customers receive an answer whenever they call. Try a live call handling team to give your callers an on-brand experience and give your receptionists the night off!
With your call-handling skills on-point, at least next time you feel your ears burning, you’ll know it’s good news.
- Consistency is key for branding purposes
- Be transparent in your communication
- Be clear and ask if there is anything else to assist customers with.