Phone

The Art of Answering the Phone

Answering a phone – pretty simple, right? Wrong! As one of the most common business tools, it’s often the one that’s taken for granted. That fact is only a small percentage of businesses actually train their staff to use the phone correctly. I’m not talking about holding the handset in a certain way or perfecting a dialing technique, I’m talking about the words and tone they use while on the phone.

Will you answer the call to good phone manners?

Will you answer the call to good phone manners?

At Messages On Hold, the telephone is our bread & butter. And because we do business over the phone, every employee who joins our team undergoes a thorough and complete phone training session as part of their induction. This training focuses on the words & tone they use while on the phone, as well as helpful phone techniques such as barging & transferring a call and placing a call on hold.

So, what are our top tips for improving the way you use your most powerful business tool? Read on to find out!

Answering The Phone

Bad Practice: “Hi thanks for calling, (your name) speaking”

Good Practice: “Thanks for calling (company name) this is (your name).”

To help the caller confirm they’ve called the right company, say your company’s name. And there’s no need to say ‘speaking’ after your name – they can already determine this.

Returning From Hold

Bad Practice: “Are you there?!”

Good Practice: “Thanks for holding, (client name).”

If the caller isn’t there, they can’t answer your question. Thank the caller for holding and continue with your conversation or just leap right in with what you’re returning to tell them.

The Hanging Or…

Bad Practice: “Can I take a message orrr…”

Good Practice: “Would you like to hold or shall I take a message?”

The hanging ‘or’ sounds unprofessional; if you don’t have another option just drop the ‘or’. You’ll sound more decisive.

Calling Back

Bad Practice: “Sure, I’ll call you back later today.”

Good Practice: “Sure, I’ll call you back at 2:42 this afternoon.”

Later today isn’t specific and does nothing to ensure the person you’re going to call back will be ready for your call. By providing them with a specific time (and keeping to it!) you’ll appear more committed and they’ll know to be ready.

There you have it! Use these lines effectively and you’ll have a real edge over your competitors while leaving a positive impact on your callers. The quicker you put these ideas into practice, the quicker you’ll reap the rewards.

– Lachy

The Element of Surprise; Surprisingly Easy

Do you remember the good old days when you didn’t have to pump your own petrol? I don’t, because I was born in the nineties. But I’ve heard great things about those pre-World Wide Web times; milk delivered to your door step, corner shops where the shopkeeper knew your name, bank tellers that were neither automatic nor machines. But those little customer service quirks have gone the way of the dinosaur and the human race has evolved to have lowered expectations to help cope with this changing climate.

My generation is getting used to poor customer service to a point where we don’t even know what we’re missing out on. We’re desensitized to video game violence and waiters who won’t make eye-contact. While this may make us an apathetic lot, it also makes us strangely easy to surprise.

A bar in Perth recently announced it was going to go against the norm and sell coffee for $2.50. Big whoop. But in Perth, this is newsworthy because we’ve been subjected to coffee that’s on average 40 cents more expensive than the rest of the country.

So why not take advantage of these lowered expectations and surprise your disgruntled customers with some good old fashion service? Your customers will either react like this guy (watch the video, I’ll wait here until you’re done) or they’ll be so surprised by the interaction that it will become an anecdote shared by word of mouth or across social media.

The Interaction

The Interaction

There are many examples of customers making waves across social media, some good, and some bad. One positive example is the story of the Dragon and the Kangaroo. When the Galaxy SIII was released a man asked Samsung Canada for a free one and attached a picture of a dragon he had drawn for them.  Samsung apologised to the man, stating that they could not afford to send everyone a new phone who asked. Pretty run of the mill response, except for one interesting addition; they complimented his dragon and gave him a drawing of a kangaroo on a unicycle in return.

The man was charmed, took a screenshot of the conversation and posted it on Reddit with the caption “Well, Samsung Canada has won me over”. The image went viral and Samsung Canada gained the image of a cool, laidback and friendly company.  But then they took one step further. As a token of their appreciation for the positive media, they sent the man a one of a kind Samsung Galaxy SIII customised with his drawing of the dragon. (And of course, that photo made the rounds online as well).

The Payoff

The Payoff

Now I’m not suggesting you dish out free products to your customers, but they are likely to be surprised by outstanding customer service. They’ll also want to tell their friends. So take advantage of Generation Y’s careful combination of lower expectations and desire to share every life event online. You never know what will go viral.

– Emily