What to say when you answer the phone

What to SayNumber one thing to consider when you are crafting how your phone will be answered: Never…never, don’t ever…require your staff to speak your entire sales spiel, USP, or company mission statement when answering the phone. Don’t do it. Most people know who they’ve called, and they just need confirmation that they’ve reached the right place.

Remember talking about Ben Franklin the Plumber a few weeks ago?

When it’s time to decide how to answer your phone, they can be an example for good…and for bad. You need to have scripts for your front line people. How they answer the phone is critical to how people perceive your business and you don’t want to leave that up to chance. But don’t put your entire sales spiel into that script…no matter how tempting that may be! Your frontline phone people will be dealing with a large number of calls, and it is more customer-friendly to limit the greeting. Sure, if you’ve got some major promotion that will affect a lot of people, then let them know. But keep it brief…no more than a few words.

Confirm the company name, and provide your first name

Here’s an example: “Charter Insurance, this is Julie”. (apologies to any Julies that work at any company named Charter Insurance!) This confirms that they reached the right company (you’d be surprised!) and gives your name as an invitation to use it to springboard into their conversation. You have now become the “voice” of the company. And with that power comes a responsibility to provide a great customer experience

Ask how you may direct their call, unless you can answer their question

This is one thing that a lot of companies do that frustrates callers: asking “how may I help you?” when really what they mean is “how may I direct your call?”. Those greetings give two entirely different meanings to the caller. The first says: “I’ve reached someone who can bridge between myself and this company, probably looking into any records the company has about me or my purchase, and can probably make a decision regarding my concern.” If that’s truly the case with whomever answers the phone at your business, then including “how may I help you?” in your script is great. However, more often then not we hear that, when really all the person is authorized to do is transfer your call to someone else who does in fact have the ability to find you in their computer. Do you see the difference?

When you hear someone answer with “How may I direct your call?” you instantly know that this person won’t be the one helping you solve your problem, or answer your question, but they very likely will be a big help in getting you to the right person. The more obscure your question, the more you need their help and knowledge of the inner workings of the company in order to transfer you to the right person.

The first greeting, if spoken by someone who really just wants to transfer you will cause customer frustration. After taking the time to explain the details of their situation, the receptionist says “please hold while I transfer you to Customer Service” where you get to start your story all over again! Heaven forbid you were transferred to the wrong place, or that Customer Service isn’t the right place for you to be! So pay attention to these minor word differences…they can make a big impact on the service you deliver over the phone.

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