You’re hoping that your advertising and marketing efforts will make the phone ring. But what happens when it does?
- Who answers the phone?
- Do they know what to say?
- Do callers feel like someone on the other end cares that they called, is knowledgeable about the business and can solve a problem?
- How many times a week are calls mishandled by staff members to the point where a potential customer decides to contact another business?
If you aren’t 100% certain of the answers to those questions or the answers aren’t making you too happy, then you have a problem. The person who answers the phone is often a patient’s first impression of your office. Your ability to survive in an increasingly competitive marketplace is dependent on every component of your business firing on all cylinders. And the biggest misfire of all may be the ability of your front desk person to successfully handle incoming calls.
How to Successfully Manage Your Incoming Calls
Hiring the Right Person
Start the interview process over the phone. They could be the most qualified person on the planet for the remainder of the job description. But if they’re primary role is to answer the phone and they sound awful on the phone, move on to the next candidate.
Consider a Bonus-Based Compensation
Money does motivate job performance. Consider providing staff with a bonus or commission for every appointment booked that turns into a sale. If you find that one in a million person who is absolutely, positively making a difference at the front desk, pay to keep them. One lost sale a month would’ve more than covered their salary and incentives.
Do Not “Close” During Lunch
Businesses that do not take calls during their “lunch hour” make me nuts. Considering that many people use their lunch times to take care of personal business, you could be losing out on a lot of business. It’s a none too subtle sign to potential customers regarding your company’s stance on “customer service”.
Confirm Call Back Times
Agree on a set time that the “owner or boss” will return the call. By stating clearly that the person who they really want to talk to returns calls between 4:30PM and 5:00PM you’ll cut down on the people who will inevitably call back 3 or 4 times in the hopes of catching the decision maker.
You can’t script the entire phone experience. But I can’t tell you the number of offices I’ve contacted where the staff answers the phone in ways that make me cringe. “Hi, Hearing Center.” “Hearing Center, please hold.” Hearing Center, Can I have your name please.” None of these are appropriate. If the person calling has a hearing loss, they might not have heard, please hold and thought they were disconnected. A script should contain the opening lines and the answers to the most frequently asked questions.
The simplest way to provide training is to record the incoming calls. 90% of all problems can be identified and resolved if you and your employee just sit and listen to the calls.
Businesses that apply these strategies will notice a difference; it will make your customer’s happier, your staff more efficient and everyone less frustrated.