You’ve impressed your prospective client enough for him or her to pick up the phone. Now what? There are a few surefire ways to make a stellar first impression over the phone, as outlined below:
Just as in-person guests can see your smile, callers can hear it over the phone. Smiling helps your tone sound friendly and helpful, and as an added perk, it’s a great mood-booster for you to boot!
After four or five rings, callers tend to think no one’s there – or worse, that you’re too busy to help them. And if you miss their call, they just may call one of your competitors instead of leaving a voicemail message. Even in-house receptionists will occasionally miss calls (when several come in at once or when they’re at lunch), so if you’d like to make sure every call is answered live, you may want to consider using a virtual receptionist service. Virtual receptionists will cheerfully and promptly answer your calls, and your potential customers will feel cared for every time they call.
Set Reasonable Expectations (and exceed them!)
If you answer the phone yourself, be transparent and clear in terms of the availability of the person the caller needs to speak with. If they need to speak with you but you have to run out the door to a meeting in 10 minutes, let them know in a friendly manner and proactively confirm when you will call them back. If it’s someone else in your firm they should be speaking with, connect them immediately or clarify specifically when the person will call them back in the case that they are not currently available (and also see how you might be able to help in the meantime!).
If your receptionist or virtual receptionist service needs to take messages for you, feel free to let them know what time callers can expect a return call. A client with a simple problem can turn into a frustrated client when they’re left waiting by the phone, unsure whether you’re going to get back to them today, this week, or ever. Avoid this uncertainty by keeping your virtual receptionist in the loop so she can give callers great expectations: “Dan, our Support Technician, would be happy to assist you. He’s in a meeting until 3:00 but returning calls afterward. May I take a message?”
Create Meaningful Connections
One of the best ways to set your business apart is to cultivate personal relationships with your clients. Others can create similar products and services, but they can’t imitate your customer service. Even if it’s simply said in passing, always acknowledge when callers share personal info.
For example, if your caller says, “It was great speaking with you! I’ll be out of the office next week on vacation, but I’d love to touch base the week after.” Don’t just agree to follow up; ask them where they’re going on vacation. They’re probably excited about it, and you get to share in their enthusiasm!
When talking with your clients by phone, avoid saying "No". Always look for a way to help them. Even if you do not offer what they are looking for or cannot answer a specific question, find out what they are ultimately trying to achieve and see if there’s any way that your firm might be able to help. Even if your company is not in a position to help the caller, you might be able to offer advice, refer them to a partner, or point them to a reliable vendor whom you have used in the past. Helping them solve their problems, even when it’s not going to result in any additional revenue for you, is a GREAT way to create fans of your firm.
Whether you’re answering your calls yourself, have on-site support, or have a live virtual receptionist service in place, these five steps will have your clients on their way to saying, “WOW!”