We’ll bet this scenario sounds familiar if you’ve ever worked in an office.
Someone answers the phone (usually annoyed that they’ve had to stop what they’re doing, or because they blinked first in the ‘let it ring until someone else answers it’ game’).
The call isn’t for them, so they hurriedly ask who the call is for.
They fumble with the phone, trying to work out how to transfer the caller to the right person.
The first try goes to the wrong phone, so they apologise because they’ll need to try the transfer again.
Hopefully the second effort gets through to the right person (although it’s not unknown for the call to be accidentally terminated).
Then you have the awkward moment of trying to work out when one person should hang up so the other person can talk.
If it sounds a bit chaotic, it is. But it’s pretty representative of how phone calls are dealt with in many businesses.
Dealing with phone calls is often overlooked, and not many employees get training on it (at least not according to our research).
To help you, here are our key considerations for how your call answering systems should work.
1 – Make sure calls are answered quickly
This sounds simple, and it is. But it can’t be overstated how important it is that you’re answering calls quickly and not leaving callers waiting.
You should aim to answer calls within three rings whenever possible (we manage this 99% of the time).
This can be an office policy that someone needs to pick up a phone within three rings.
Or you can have staff or resources purely for phone management.
2 – Have a standard response
This is another simple but effective way to make your call answering systems more professional.
When customers call, the first thing they need to know is that they’ve called the right number when someone answers.
Simply answering with ‘hello’ isn’t going to let them know that and could leave customers flustered while they confirm they’ve called the right number.
At the very least, it doesn’t make you appear professional.
So, ensure you have a standard opening for answering calls.
We’ve got more advice on dealing with phone calls professionally in this blog.
3 – Have clear guidance for call forwarding
Depending on the size of your business, you’ll have a small or large number of routing options for inbound calls.
For example, customers trying to get in touch with your service team, those looking for support, or those wanting to speak with sales.
However many routes you have, it’s important your call answering systems takes them all into consideration.
The easiest way to do this is to departmentalise the different types of calls your business deals with.
Once you’ve done this, assign people as the first point of contact for those types of calls.
Then, make sure anyone who will answer a phone knows the extension and the person they should send calls to.
4- Have a standard for call return times
Call return times can make or break your customer service.
The problem is the times will vary depending on the person who is returning the call.
Some people will return calls almost instantly. Others may add them to a to-do list for later.
Others may mean to return a call quickly and then become busy.
It’s important you create a standard time for returning calls that every employee needs to hit.
It could be that all calls will be returned with 24 hours, or 48, or 72.
Whatever it is, have a protocol in place so employees know what’s expected of them.
You can also let customers know when they can expect a return call using this method too, which can improve relationships.
5 – Have an escalation procedure for complaints
One of the main reasons employees get flustered when talking to upset customers – especially those who are becoming aggressive – is because they don’t know what they’re supposed to do.
Should they be dealing with the customers? Should the customer be passed to someone else?
It’s always going to happen that occasionally you’ll have to deal with a customer who isn’t happy, and who can’t be dealt with by the person who answered the phone.
In these circumstances, you should have a standard escalation policy, so employees know who to send these callers to.
This not only removes stress for employees, but it can deescalate a situation if a customer goes through a smooth process and is eventually helped.
Build effective call management with a telephone answering service
An effective way of improving your business’ call management is to work with a telephone answering service to handle your business’ incoming calls.
By doing this you can have calls handled by seasoned professionals who can work with you to build and manage call answering systems to deal with any kind of call you deal with.
Removing call handling from employees who aren’t trained can remove their stress and allow them to focus on what you’re paying them for, while ensuring your call answering is working in the most professional way at all times.
13th November, 2023
Posted by Face For Business