Have you ever called a business and been forced to wait what seemed like a lifetime to get through to someone?
Or been left on hold so long that you start to think the other person may have forgotten you’re waiting?
Or just know the person on the other end of the phone was having a bad day because of their tone?
We’ll bet you have. We’ll bet most people have.
When it comes to calling answering, most employees don’t get any training beyond how to use the call forwarding function – and many don’t even get that.
How you treat someone on the phone can set the tone for your customer service, so you must get it right.
In this blog, telephone answering service provider Face for Business gives the top 5 mistakes you should avoid when answering the phone at your business.
- Not answering quickly enough
Is there anything worse than having a phone to your ear and listening to it ring, and ring, and call, and ring….and ring?
Making customers wait for anything is a sure way to annoy them, especially when they need help quickly.
One of the reasons business phones get left too long is that no one wants to take responsibility for it. (Should link to phone anxiety blog)
It’s why employees put their heads down when the phone rings and hope someone else will pick it up. (Should link to phone anxiety blog)
You should answer the phone within three rings (the agreed standard).
And later and you’re leaving customers’ waiting too long, but any quicker, you could catch a caller off guard and make them flustered.
- Putting callers on hold
It’s not necessarily putting callers on hold; that’s the problem. It’s the way some businesses do it.
You’ve probably experienced it when someone has said: “I’m going to put you on hold….”
And you’re already on hold before you can respond.
Instead, if you’re answering the phone, you should explain to the caller that you need to put them on hold for a second and ask them if it’s ok.
And then wait for a response.
Callers will understand that you might need to go and look for information to help them. They just don’t want to feel dismissed.
This brings us to the next point.
- Keep time of hold to a minimum
If you put a caller on hold, you need to limit the time they’re left.
Don’t just walk away and only return the call once you’ve got an answer.
Leaving a caller listening to hold music (or silence) will make them feel like you’ve forgotten them.
If it’s taking longer than hoped to find some information, re-engage with the caller and explain that you’re working on the issue.
- Not taking accurate messages
This is a killer when it comes to customer service.
If a customer calls and leaves detailed information about the problem they’ve had, they won’t expect to have to repeat it all again to someone else later on.
It’s not always an employee’s fault that they don’t take accurate messages – they’re often not told what information they should take.
If you’re taking a message, you must accept the basic information (name, company, and contact details – an email and a phone number).
And then, you should get as much information as you can from the caller.
If unsure of something, ask the customer to repeat what they’ve said. Repeat the critical contact information at the end of the call to ensure you’ve got it right.
- Not having a process for answering calls
This is the big one that many businesses don’t get right.
When a call comes in, no one knows who’s responsible for answering, so no one does.
If someone does, they don’t know what they should take in a message, and many don’t know how to forward calls to team members – especially if they’re transferring calls to a mobile.
Suppose you’re going to take customer service seriously. In that case, this has to involve procedures for who should answer phones, how quickly calls should be answered, how calls should be dealt with, and what information people should be taking.
This will at least make it easier to manage and return calls if you’re not immediately able to help a customer.
Improve your telephone answering as part of customer service
There may be a hundred and one ways for customers to get in touch with your business today, but for the most part, the telephone remains one of the preferred methods of communication.
This is especially true for customers contacting small businesses or those with a particularly urgent or sensitive inquiry.
By removing these common mistakes from your telephone answering, you can vastly improve your customer service and reduce the chances of losing customers due to a poor experience on the phone.
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