You might think call handling is less important for businesses when customers have channels like live chat, social media, instant messages and email (among other things) to contact a business.
However, more than half of customers say they still prefer to call and speak to a real person when contacting a business, especially when they need information quickly, or when their enquiry is sensitive or private.
With that in mind we think it’s important to talk about what exactly is call handling and how it fits into modern business communication.
What is Call Handling?
Essentially call handling involves all the things businesses use to manage incoming calls within the company. It’s often thought of as just picking up the phone, but it involves more than that.
Call handling includes how calls are transferred, how and when messages are taken to how different types of calls are dealt with to how customer issues on the phone are resolved or escalated.
Not having proper call handling procedures in place can create problems for customers if they can’t talk to the person they need to; operationally for businesses, poor call handling can also create inefficiencies.
On the other hand, professional call handling can greatly improve a company’s customer service and operations.
How Call Handling Works – what’s involved?
Effective Call Routing
When a customer calls it’s important they get to the right person as quickly as possible. Anyone who’s ever been caught in a loop of being passed from one person to another will know how annoying it is. Effective call routing directs incoming calls to the right department or person, first time.
This can be achieved with automated systems. But a better way is by investing in a phone answering service with professional PAs who can talk to customers and manually transfer calls.
Introducing automated routing
An interactive voice response (IVR) system takes callers through a menu of options to help them self-navigate to the right department. You’ve probably heard the robotic “for x department press 1” instruction before.
This can be part of your call handling process but it does have some problems.
First, it’s very impersonal because callers can’t speak to a real person and the first thing they hear is a robot – so you won’t provide personalised experiences.
The second problem is that IVR systems require the caller to have some idea of who they need to speak with, or which department can best help them. This can lead to callers coming through to the wrong department at first.
We’ve written more about the comparison between professional call handling and IVR systems here.
Training employees on proper call handling
Our own research has found that most employees think they don’t receive enough training on how to manage their company’s phones, and this is leading to issues in call handling as a whole.
If employees are expected to answer phones, they’ll need training on how phone systems work (functions like transfers, hold, and taking a call back) as well as understanding who certain calls should be directed to.
It can also be useful to standardise how messages are taken and what information should be taken. This makes it much easier for teams to return calls properly and can also give time to resolve a customer’s problem before calling them back.
Creating escalation procedures
We do have a more in-depth article on creating effective escalation procedures, but it’s worth discussing here too.
Defining your escalation procedure within the wider call handling can greatly improve how issues are dealt with. Understanding who should be involved in higher level support can ensure customers get to the right person quickly and relieve pressure on staff when it comes to dealing with upset customers.
Creating escalation procedures as part of your call handling forms a central part of dealing with angry customers and resolving issues.
Benefits of successful call handling
Creating better customer experiences
Effective call handling helps to create better customer experiences because all calls are answered quickly and dealt with efficiently. This all contributes to customers feeling valued.
Creating more business efficiency
Proper call handling procedures can result in better overall business efficiency because teams know exactly how to deal with any type of call. Employees trained on the right call handling techniques are better able to handle calls quickly, meaning they spend less time on the phone and have more time to focus on their core jobs.
Creating a more professional image for your business
Professional call handling is key to presenting a professional image of your business. When customers call and have their issues resolved quickly it presents you as effective and improves the perception of your customer service. This can greatly improve your reputation and create more confidence among customers.
Keep more customers
It’s well known that it’s far cheaper to retain existing customers than it is to win new business. And customer service plays one of the biggest roles in customer retention. Customers are more likely to stay with a company if they’re confident they’ll have a better service than they would somewhere else.
Customers are also more likely to repeat business, and spend more money, with companies offering better customer service.
Creating better call handling with Face For Business
At Face For Business, call handling is our bread and butter.
Our professional PAs are well trained to handle inbound calls for all kinds of industries and business sizes from estate and letting agents to solicitors or dentists.
When someone calls and we take the call, our PAs greet them with a friendly and professional manner. We can take accurate messages to be sent straight to you or the right person on your team.
If you prefer calls to be transferred, we can make sure they get to the right person first-time, everytime.
If you’re interested in knowing more about our professional call handling services give us a call on 0333 323 1007 or fill out the contact form and one of the team will be in touch.
You could even start a free 7-day trial of our call handling to see what the service is like up close.
31st January, 2024
Posted by Face For Business