Answering the Phone
In my previous post I mentioned the 50 things your customers wish you knew and number 5 from that list jumped right out at me, “A friendly voice on the other side of the phone means more than you can imagine.”
Your customers normally don’t call you just to chat and catch up on how you are doing. They normally call when something is wrong or if they need specific information that they can’t find elsewhere. This means that there is a pretty good chance that they are going to be in a bad mood or at least on the verge and it won’t take much to push them over the edge. So how do you prepare for this and make sure that your staff will be prepared to turn the situation around and leave the customer feeling satisfied?
The first thing is to make sure that the people you have answering the phone are prepared for answering
the customers questions and empowered to do what they need in order to make that customer happy. There is nothing that will turn an already upset customer into your worst enemy than your staff not knowing the answers to questions. I’m not saying that your staff will always have the answers or that it’s even possible for them too but they should at least have the knowledge of knowing where to look or where to ask in order to find the answer for the customer. The other part of that is your staff actually being able to give the customer an answer or make the situation right without having to ask their manager if something is ok. Empowering an employee to make decisions on their own is a win for everyone.
The second thing is to only allow employees to answer the phones if they are in a good mood and thinking clearly. You may ask how you would know if someone was in a good mood and thinking clearly? Most of the time you can tell if someone is not in a good mood or distracted. Another way is to ask your staff to let you know when they are feeling this way or have everyone share their mood during a morning stand-up. If you have people answering the phone and not able to make your customer feel at ease and show that they are willing to listen to the customers problem, you are setting yourself up to provide a bad customer experience.
If you ask your employees to do this and to share their moods then you need to also make sure that it’s something that doesn’t become a way for your employees to get out of dealing with customers. If an employee consistently tells you that they are unable to answer the phone, you will need to address the situation. A bad mood every now and then is fine or if they are going through a life issue that causes them to not think clearly, but what you don’t want is an employee thinking that they can use this as a crutch in order to get out of talking to customers.
The last big thing that you can do to make sure that it’s a friendly voice on the other end of the line for your customers is to make sure that the culture in your company breeds happiness and that your employees are having a good time doing what they do. The easiest way to make your customer happy with your product is to show that you are happy with your product and love working with it. I will have more posts in the future that deal with how to maintain a happy culture at work and ways to keep your employees wanting to provide the best customer service that they can.
At the end of the day your main goal is to make sure that you have happy and friendly people answering the phone when a customer calls in. If you cannot provide this for the customer then all you are really doing is setting yourself and the customer up for failure.