Every day, customers call your business because they have an interest in the services you offer. They may already know they want to book an appointment, they might want to learn more about your company and its offerings, or maybe they’re calling to inquire about your pricing. Whatever the purpose of the call, how you respond to it is critical to the outcome of the interaction.
Since so much of our communication is digital nowadays, telephone interaction is the first (and sometimes only) chance you’ll get to connect with your customers and make a good impression. Here are five practical tips you can use to start improving your phone skills and earning more business:
1. Answer the phone
Our number one tip for winning customers over the phone is also the simplest: always answer your phone. Although it sounds obvious, you would be surprised at how many businesses miss this opportunity for easy scoring. Schedules get busy, receptionists working alone can get overstretched, and eventually the lack of bandwidth means that several calls are missed every single day. One thing to note as a business owner is that while some people will leave a message or call back later if you don’t answer, the vast majority (close to 80%) will not. Therefore, if you want a chance to earn their business, answering their call the first time around is really the only way to go about it. Try to be as diligent as you can about always answering the phone, even if it’s inconvenient. If that isn’t possible and you don’t have the budget for an in-house receptionist team, you can also consider hiring a call answering service to help you out.
2. Have a warm greeting prepared in advance
Did you know that it takes customers only seven seconds to form their initial impression about a business? It’s true. Although your entire interaction with a customer is important in determining how they feel about your business, there is no doubt that the first introduction is one you can’t afford to mess up. Make sure you start the conversation off by introducing both yourself and your business, asking for the customer’s name, and being friendly and sounding excited while you’re at it. Giving your customers a warm greeting that makes them feel welcome sets the tone for a better conversation the whole way through.
3. Be prepared to answer questions
There are few things more frustrating as a customer than calling a business because you need help or have a question about something, and walking away from the conversation with no more information than you had when you began. Part of good customer service is being prepared to give customers the information they need when they reach out to you. To accomplish this, have answers to your most frequently asked questions on deck and make sure your team knows them, as well. This will help you to be more consistent in having the information your customers most often need readily available. Also, this should go without saying, but do not get frustrated with your customers if they ask more questions than you would like or need extra help understanding something. Not everyone has the same knowledge about your business that you do, so it is important to be understanding and patient with your customers as you help them through things.
4. Smile while you’re talking
This one might seem a bit counterintuitive. If you’re talking to a customer over the phone, why should it matter if you’re smiling or not? The surprising truth is that the expression on your face actually impacts your mood and tone in a noticeable way—so much so that many believe you can “hear” a smile. When we smile, we send signals to our brains that we are happy and excited, and that reflects in our voices, as well. Don’t underestimate the power of just smiling throughout your phone conversations. It’s a simple way to instantly boost your enthusiasm and friendliness over the phone in a way your customers are sure to appreciate.
5. Use the customer’s name
People love to hear their own names. As human behavior expert Dale Carnegie put it, “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” That’s because hearing our own names makes us feel important, validated, and it shows that the person speaking is paying attention to us. Using a person’s name is one of the most certain ways to build rapport with them in conversation. Take advantage of this truth to win the favor of more potential customers easily by using their names when you speak to them. Make sure to ask for the person’s name right at the beginning of the call, and use it frequently throughout your time on the phone with them.
Earning the trust and business of new customers over the phone is completely possible if you approach it with the right technique. Being attentive, sounding enthusiastic, and making an effort to genuinely help your customers while you’re on the phone with them go a long way. Using the tips above, you’ll be better equipped to build a positive connection with the customers who reach out to your business.