Small Business Strategies: You're Probably Answering The Phone Wrong

We covered this blog in our podcast! Listen above, or read below; it’s your choice!

1. No Robots

“Thank you for calling Smith Roofing. Your call is very important to us, even though we couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone. Thankfully we have robots to do it for us. Please hold for the next available human.”

Most people call small businesses because they hate how they’re treated by big corporations. Let’s use Comcast as an example. Do you feel like an important person when you call Comcast? Absolutely not! You go through the motions of pressing 1 for English, 3 for technical support, then 0 to talk to an agent…then you sit there for 45 minutes on hold. No one likes that experience. 

When potential customers call their local plumber or roofer, they expect to talk to a person that cares about their issue, not a robot that keeps them busy for 15 minutes and doesn’t answer their questions. 

Now, you might say “Kaity, we’ve got so many phone calls. We’re so busy that we had to implement automated phone service.” GOOD! It sounds like your phone is ringing off the hook. The next step is NOT to get automated phone service. The next step is to hire someone that is dedicated to answering the phones. That many phone calls warrant a dedicated employee on the other end waiting for a phone call. 

The day to decide to implement a Robot is the day your customers will lose faith in your quality of service. If a human can’t be bothered to answer the phone, that is a huge red flag and points against your company in the eyes of the customer. 

2. First Impressions Matter

There are three components to a proper phone greeting:

1. Salutation

“Thank you for choosing Kimball Roofing” 

“Thank you so much for calling Kimball Roofing” 

The importance of the salutation isn’t just the words used, but also the way it’s being said. When you answer the phone, you need to sound excited that you’ve gotten another call. Think about all the effort you put into your marketing to have someone call your office. Don’t put all of that to waste because you sounded bored or agitated when you answered the phone. These people are calling to give you money! Be excited about it! 

2. Name

Whoever is answering the phone needs to say their name. By telling the caller your name, you are showing them that you are in fact a real person, not a robot. 

3. Question

How can I help you today? 

This is the part where you can get a little creative if you want to. Let’s say you own a car detailing business. You could say something like “How can I make your day shine?” or “How can we brighten up your day?” 

You don’t have to get creative if you don’t want to, but saying something aside from the typical “How can I help you” is a great way to show customers that you’re different than your competitors. 

3. Don't Use Scripts

You’ve heard us say it before, and we’ll say it again. As a small business, you need to be genuine in everything you do. Using a script is not genuine, and it’s going to come across as fake, and like you don’t care about the person on the other end of the phone. 

Scripts are a great way for business owners to NOT train their staff. They think they can just give a script to the new person on the phone and walk away. Well, guess what? It’s not going to work for you. Spend some time with your customer services reps. Show them the message of your company, and teach them how to respond to common questions. Have them shadow other employees for a time so they can get more comfortable. Spending this extra time with your employees is going to make you way more money than you would save by giving them a crummy script that isn’t going to convert anyone.

4. Listen Listen Listen

This might seem simple, but LISTEN to what your caller has to say. Don’t try to complete their sentences, and don’t try to predict what they want. Hear them out, and solve their issue after they’ve finished asking their question. Callers know if you are/aren’t listening to them properly. You keep spelling their name wrong, you cut them off, and you don’t answer their question properly. Proper listening is the best way to not only do your job right but to keep your customer satisfied. 

There is nothing worse than calling a business, and them not answering your questions or solving your problem. That’s going to warrant a bad review online, and you’ll lose a sale. Just calm down, and listen to your callers. 

5. Be Positive

Whether someone is calling you about making a new purchase or calling about an issue they’re having, you need to be positive about it. 

Most people will gravitate towards a “can do” type of attitude, and will engage with it in positive ways. You get what you give! If you answer the phone with a bad attitude, I guarantee you’ll either get a bad attitude right back at you, or they will just hang up.

6. NEVER Lose Your Temper

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all

There is NO reason why you should ever lose your temper on a phone call.

We’ve had plenty of people scream at us, call us names, and curse at us, and it never gets old. It’s always a little jarring. Like we said earlier, always keep your attitude positive. If you answer the phone, and someone comes at you EXTREMELY hot, do NOT match their level and lose your temper. 

This is actually, a good life lesson as well. 

Keep your cool, and try to figure out what’s going on with them. 

Honestly, Dori does this with me all the time. I’ll be flying off the handle about something and she does a great job at calming me down and getting to the root of the issue. 

Here’s an important thing to keep in mind: If someone with a terrible temper calls your office, send the phone call to your superior. If you’re the owner, keep your cool, try to figure out what’s going on, and talk them down. If the caller can’t be calmed, just politely disengage from the conversation and hang up the phone.

7. Don't Take Too Long

When it comes to answering the caller’s questions, make sure that you’re being clear and servicing them at the proper speed. Don’t take forever to answer their questions. These customers called you with a purpose. Either sell them your product, or schedule them a a visit promptly. The speed at which you handle the phone call is going to give your customers a perception of the speed you do everything else. If the person answering your phones takes 5 minutes tp type in someone’s email, the customer is going to think you do everything else super slow and inefficiently.

8. Confirm You Serviced the Caller and Wrap Up

Before you get off the phone, summarize everything you’ve done for your caller. 

“Okay, thanks so much for calling, Sarah. We have you on the schedule for an estimate next Wednesday at 5 pm. The technicians will be out to inspect your roof, and it should take under an hour to complete. You don’t need to be present, but if you are that’s great. Is there anything else I can help you with?” 

Make sure the call says they don’t need any help before signing off. 

Then sign off by thanking them again, and wishing them a great rest of their day. 

“Thank you again for calling Kimball Roofing, Sarah. Have a great rest of your day, and we’ll see you next Wednesday at 5.”

It’s that easy!

How Does Your Business Measure Up?

Call your office right now. How are your phone calls handled? Is your team following these best practices or do they need some work? 

A bad phone experience can lead to lost profits and a bad reputation. Make sure your team is treating every phone call with respect and enthusiasm. If not, it’s time to retrain your team on the best phone call strategies!

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