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Published on May 29th, 2009 | by Janine Popick

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Pick Up the Phone & Get a Customer for Life

Rotary PhoneI just read a recent tweet about VerticalResponse and it inspired me to write about it. It read:

“Just love it when a company quickly answers the phone, I can understand them and they answer my question – Way to go VerticalResponse!!”

Don’t get me wrong, I love the tweet, but are we so “Web 2.0” that we don’t pick up the phone and talk anymore? Why are people so surprised when someone answers the phone at a business these days? Sure technologies like email marketing let you send mass emails to get the word out but what about the personal touch. Have we lost it?

I saw a TV commercial the other day, I think it was for an online trading company, and the first words the woman said is “Why do I use XXXX? A human being answers the phone…a human being!” Sounds so crazy they made a TV commercial out of it!

If you’ve got a 2-man shop and you’re juggling a million things, it’s OK to ask your callers to leave you a message. Just be clear how long they’ll have to wait for a call back and that perhaps they’d like to leave their cell phone number. Just make sure you get back to them as soon as possible.

If you get a lot of daily calls, you may need an advanced system that enables you to have a waiting queue.  You may need to “branch” your calls to better serve your customers like “press 1 for customer support, press 2 for returns.” And if your system allows for it, tell your customers how long they’ll be waiting.

Here are a few tips for your business on answering the phone whether you’ve got 100 employees, or you’re working at home in your slippers.

  • Answer the calls as fast as you can. Don’t let them ring past 4 rings if possible.
  • On the wall right near your phone, put a big sign up on the wall that says “SMILE”. You’d be amazed at how a call can turn in your favor when you smile over the phone.
  • Greet your callers. “Hello, this is Jane from Widgets, how can I help you?”
  • Ask for a number where you can reach your caller in the event the call gets dropped.
  • Never leave a caller with the impression that you don’t know something, simply put them on hold and find out the answer to their issue.
  • At the end of the call ask if there is anything else you can help your caller with.
  • Call your own line every month to ensure quality.

I know it seems like this information might be “so Web 1.0” but if you make a habit of picking up the phone, whether its an inbound call or an outbound call, you might just have a customer for life.

© 2009 – 2012, Janine Popick. All rights reserved.

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