Client calls are the lifeline of your company's revenues. Whether the phone rings with a qualified lead or a returning client, you need to always be ready to answer the phone instantly.
What the Number of Rings Says about Your Business
Is there a difference whether you answer the phone on the first, second, or third ring? Absolutely! You only have one chance to make a great first impression, and this process begins when the phone starts ringing.
Wait too long to answer the phone, and the caller may perceive the business as apathetic or unprofessional. Worse, they may lose interest and hang up the phone. Generally, if a caller has to wait for four and five rings, he or she will believe the company is closed for the day, does not care about its clients, or has gone out of business.
Fulfill Instant Gratification Needs by Picking up on the First Ring
In sharp contrast, answer the call on the first ring, and the caller knows you are instantly ready to assist him or her. This sets the scene for a great first impression before you have even finished saying, "How can I help you today?"
Remember, today's consumers are busy and demand instant gratification. By answering the call on the very first ring, you already begin to meet their needs, even before they have spoken their first words.
Make Customers Feel Important
No matter how busy your business is right now, clients like to know that they are important. By answering a phone call right away, you acknowledge that their call is important, even if you need to ask if they can hold for just a moment.
Create a Fantastic Phone Impression
Once you have answered the phone call on the first ring, there are additional ways you can achieve client satisfaction via the phone:
- Answer with a "smile" - Callers can tell when a phone service staff is annoyed or not in the mood to answer a call. This should never happen to any caller. Train your phone service staff to always answer with a smile. This way, their greeting will always sound sincere and welcome.
- Avoid the dreaded pinball effect - No one likes to be bounced around like a pinball in a machine. However, callers often get the runaround in the attempt to find the "right" person to help. Train your phone answering staff to listen to a caller's needs right away. Ask questions if necessary. Transfer ONLY when an appropriate candidate is identified. If at all possible, give your phone answering staff the authority to answer questions and provide the best service possible as the first contact.
- Avoid automated call answering - Callers have become weary of "press 1 to continue." Automated answering systems were designed to help businesses offer the best service to clients by directing them to the right person. However, in the process, the system has become lengthy and wastes precious time for the caller. Avoid an automated system if at all possible. Provide living, breathing people to answer your clients' calls. These are representatives who can listen to their needs and start providing them with the best service on the first ring.
- Always ask if there is anything else you can do - Clients call with a specific purpose. Always be sure you have met that purpose and go beyond if necessary. Before you close the call, ask the caller if their question has been answered and if there is anything else you can do for them. By being available, you give the client notice that they are valued and appreciated.
Service businesses live or die by the service they provide. Do not lose clients because of poor phone answering habits or etiquette. Brush up your phone service skills and be sure your callers are happy and satisfied.
- Meredith Estep