July 2015

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>> EASY WINS STEVE CALECHMAN Taking Calls and Winning Business Discover how a phone call can affect your business A nswering the phone is so basic its oen overlooked, but its a detail that can attract customers. But there's the problematic assumption. Because it's such a basic task, it's oen overlooked, which can mean disaster for your business. e phone call is the chance to make a first impression on how your company will listen and respond. It's the kind of small detail that can attract customers, but it can just as easily make a person hang up and call someone else. Renee Evenson, author of Customer Service Training 101, offers tips on how to make the exchange positive: Get your head in the game. Before you pick up, be focused on the call – custom- ers can tell when you're secretly trying to multitask. When you answer, say hello, the business' name and most especially yours. It personalizes the encounter and doesn't put the caller in the defensive position of asking who they're talking to. Finish the initial greeting by asking what you can do. Whatever is said, assure the person that you can help and take a complementary tone. If they're happy, match it. If they're upset about a botched order, apologize for that happen- ing. You're not assuming the blame. You're just making the customer feel appreciated, and, most importantly, understood. Give a little extra. Every caller is a potential customer so whatever the need, exceed it. If the person has a problem, see if you can address it. If not, tell them who can and rather than merely transferring the call, tell them you'll stay on the line until they've been connected. Also, keep the caller informed of what you're doing – the person can't see over the phone. If you're going to check something on your computer, say so to explain any silence or slight distraction. If an answer will take a few minutes, let them know and ask if they wouldn't mind being put on hold. Frustration is minimized because the unknown is minimized, and those little moves are the tiebreakers when choosing a company. Personalize your words. If it's possible, leave your direct number on your voicemail. People get transferred without knowing how to follow up. Also if you can, make a daily message telling people if and when you're in the office and giving a time frame of when you'll respond. The ultimate message is that you, and your company, deliver and keep your word, both of which build confidence and loyalty. Know; don't guess. At the end of the conversation, recap what's been said before you offer a solution. It's easy to miscon- strue over the phone and assuming what the customer wants is a quick way to build resentment and lose business. Before you say goodbye, thank the person for calling and tell them that you were happy to be able to help to cement the positive impression. Be familiar. When it's a first call, you want to be professional and helpful. That doesn't change, but, as the relationship grows, say the customer's name in the conversation. People like to feel like they matter. On the f lip side, a customer will start looking elsewhere if they feel as if no one has been paying attention. STEVE CALECHMAN is a freelance journalist in the Boston area. He's a contributing editor for Men's Health and his work has appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine, The Old Farmer's Almanac and Delta's Sky magazine. Every caller is a potential customer so whatever they need, exceed it. 48 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | july 2015

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