It’s easy to think that phone calls are way down the list with all the talk about chatbots, social media messaging, emails and every other form of communication available to customers. But you’d be wrong.
Customers are more likely to call a business than use online options in the right circumstances, particularly when they’re trying to contact a small business or trying to resolve a problem.
For businesses that have focused more on digital communications (which are extremely important), mistakes are creeping into their call handling, resulting in lost customer confidence.
In this blog, we look at the common mistakes businesses make with their call answering and provide a few tips for how to avoid them.
Not answering the phone professionally
Answering the phone in a business setting is different than if a friend calls.
Customers expect a certain level of professionalism when calling a business.
Answering with a simple “hello”, “hi”, “hiya” etc, isn’t going to set the right tone, but when employees are rushed, it’s easy to do.
Even business owners can fall into this trap when they’re stressed.
Not answering the phone properly can put the customer on the back foot because they might not even be sure they’ve called the correct number.
And if you can’t even answer the phone professionally, how confident will they be that the rest of your service is any better?
Making the caller feel rushed
Every call is an opportunity to make a sale or keep customers happy.
But when you or your employees are busy, it’s easy to try and rush through a call to get the caller off the line so you can get back to work.
Callers don’t want to feel like an inconvenience, especially if they’re calling because they’ve got a problem and particularly if they’re calling to buy something.
No matter how busy you get, remember that customer service is vital to the success of your business.
Leaving the caller on hold for too long
Sometimes there’s no other option than to put a customer on hold.
For example, you may need to check something with a colleague to answer a question, go to find information, or transfer the caller to someone else.
But it becomes a problem when you leave the caller on hold for a long time – but companies do it.
If a customer is left on hold, they might think they’ve been disconnected and hang up (and then become more annoyed when they have to start the call process over again).
Or, they might get fed up, and a little problem could escalate to a more significant issue if your customer service isn’t doing its job.
Not learning how to transfer calls
This is a very common problem in an office setting, and even more so now with employees working remotely.
It’s hard to believe businesses will expect employees to answer and transfer calls without showing people how the call transfer operation works (but it does happen).
We know because employees told us they don’t receive phone training in a recent study.
Not having steps in place to deal with escalations
As much as you try to avoid it, there will be times when a caller isn’t happy, and you need to escalate a call to a more senior person.
But this is often overlooked, ending in a situation where an employee can’t solve a customer’s issue and doesn’t know who to transfer it to.
Then you end up with the problem of asking an already angry caller if you can call them back later.
A process to deal with escalating problems is a must for your telephone answering.
No obvious route for the caller to go on
This is a common problem in businesses that use automatic call routing to get customers to ‘self-direct’ themselves to the right person to answer their enquiry.
If you’ve ever called a bank or internet provider, you’ll have gone through this process.
But sometimes, these automated response systems don’t clarify where customers should go to resolve their issues.
The problem here is the caller might guess and end up speaking to the wrong person or department and then be forced to wait while they’re passed to the right person.
Failing to keep the caller informed
This usually happens as a result of an oversight on behalf of employees who focus so much on trying to resolve a problem quickly they fail to keep the customer informed of what’s happening.
And customers are more likely to become agitated if they don’t know what’s happening while they’re waiting.
It could be transferring the caller to someone else without telling them what’s happening or not giving them updates if you’re going through a process to resolve an issue (like when you’re trying to get your broadband fixed over the phone).
Whatever it is, a big mistake you can easily avoid is not giving the customer enough information when they’re on the phone.
If something is taking a while, tell them. If you need to transfer them, tell them who they’re being transferred to.
Not getting all the information you need
This mistake often comes down to a lack of training or can be an oversight due to inexperience.
If a customer is having a problem or you’re taking a message, it’s essential to get all the details you need.
Sometimes this is a problem created by the business because there’s no process for what an employee should do when taking information.
For these instances, ensure every employee understands what details they should take.
Relying on generic answering machine messages
An answering machine should be a last resort for your call answering.
Not only do customers not like leaving messages on an answering machine, most are actually more likely to not leave one, or call you back.
But if you have no other option than to use an answering machine, at least take the time to record a professional message.
Could a call answering service be the better option?
A lot is riding on the professionalism of your call answering, and these common mistakes are all things that can damage your reputation and lose you a customer or a sale.
If you’re struggling to deal with phone calls professionally, then investing in a telephone answering service could be the best option.
With a professional team of call handlers dealing with incoming calls, you never need to worry that customers aren’t being helped professionally.
This way, you can continue to focus on essential tasks (like dealing with complex customer enquiries) and growing your business.
Interested to know how a call answering service can take the stress of phone calls off your team?
08th November, 2022
Posted by Face For Business