Creating a great connection with your customers over the phone involves a very nuanced skill set. It is about finding the right balance between being friendly, professional, and knowledgeable. This ensures the customer feels heard and confident that you’ll take care of them.
I want to share a quick story that happened to me this past week that highlights everything wrong with the customer service approach used over the phone today.
My fridge broke over the weekend, and it looked like I needed a technician to come and repair it. So, first things first, I whipped out my phone, did a quick Google search, found one of the higher-rated repair companies in my area, and gave them a call.
I knew something was off as soon as the phone was picked up. The advertisement I had seen and clicked on was for what seemed like a small local repair company. However, as soon as my call was answered, an agent in a loud call center picked up the line and began reciting, quite monotonously, what was clearly a preset worded script. The opening line was: “Hello, thank you for calling company XYZ. Can I please start with your postal/zip code?”
That’s when I hung up.
That experience is the reason I am writing this today. You see, this company did everything right to make sure I called them — high rankings on Google and lots of great online reviews. Then dropped the ball as soon as they picked up the phone.
So, what I want to share with you today are 3 techniques anyone or business can use to improve their customers’ experience over the phone.
1. Smile First
For me, this is an absolute must for every type of call in my life. Personal or professional. I smile before I pick up or start dialing the phone.
This tiny little action sets the entire tone of the call before it even starts. You see, when introducing yourself, your smile can literally be heard in the tone of your voice, which instantly creates trust and a welcoming feeling for whoever is on the other end.
I know it sounds a little cheesy, but this has really made an impact on the 5000+ sales calls I have made over the years. Smiling constantly helps you foster stronger relationships and creates a gravity-like effect that people are drawn to. It is the reason why our name is Smiledog. Everything quite literally starts with a smile! For us, it is the most important aspect of our company culture, and it’s ingrained into our DNA. It’s also our first and most important core value and sets the tone for our entire team. We honestly believe that you can hear a smile through the phone, and it’s why everyone goes through our culture training before ever jumping onto a live call.
A company’s phone experience is crucial to its success, and when it comes to the one I recently had, it was so obvious the person answering wasn’t smiling. I could literally feel it through the phone by the tone of their voice, and a simple smile could have shifted the entire conversation from the start.
2. Help Second
Really, one of the main reasons for answering the phone is to help the customer. Before every call, you should be asking yourself: “What will help this customer the most?”
When thinking about the experience I just had with the repair company, the first thing they did was ask something from me. They wanted my postal code, a piece of personal information before they even knew what I was calling for. I am happy to give a company my information once I know they have the solution to my problem.
Luckily, you can avoid this kind of problem in your business. It is very easy to initiate every call with a help first approach. All you have to do is end your greeting with the simple question: How can I help you?
This invites your customer to explain what is going on and will give you all the information you need to properly handle the situation. What is crucial after asking the question is that you listen completely and do not cut them off. The customer needs to feel heard first before you solve their problem.
I will admit this is still a work in progress for me. I sometimes find myself interrupting the customer as I think I already have the solution to what they need, and I go right into explaining why we can help. This has and still does sometimes bite me in the butt.
You need to let the client explain what their problem is in full. Prematurely interrupting them and jumping in with a solution to a half-explained problem will ultimately lead you to not truly understanding the entirety of what they need.
So, by offering to help initially and listening completely, you always give yourself the chance to react appropriately to the real problem and give the client the best possible advice you can.
3. Follow up Third
The last tip I have for you today is something you should be doing post-call to solidify the experience your customer just had with you. There must be a prompt follow-up after the call. Whether it is having your receptionist send you the details as soon as they finish the call or you sending over some post-call information for the customer to review, make sure you prep an email/text and have it sent out within 15 minutes of the call.
I know this isn’t feasible 100% of the time but do it as often as you can. My personal goal is to do this 95% of the time. I will have a post-call email sent out with the details we discussed and my contact information so they can reach me for anything else.
I know from personal experience that when I call a company to discuss services or book an appointment, there is a smaller chance of me continuing my search if the confirmation or info packet email is sent out quickly. The follow-up message solidifies that you care about them and value their time by wanting to make sure they promptly have all the information needed to be confident in your company. This is exactly why we recently published a quick “how-to” post on crafting an effective appointment confirmation message. So check it out right here if you have a minute!
When looking at the 3 techniques for creating a better connection with your clients over the phone, they are pretty simple, right?!
I know from our 15 years of experience at Smiledog that it is usually the simple little things that tend to be the most effective when it comes to dealing with customers. That is why we always smile first, help second, and follow up third. It’s an easy formula that consistently ensures a friendly and professional experience for our clients.
If your business needs some help upping its game when it comes to the phone, we’d love to connect and see how we can help. Feel free to book a consult with us here, or check out more info here: Smiledog Virtual Reception