15 April 2014

Top 10 Things to Avoid Doing When You Answer the Phone

The way you greet your customers and potential clients matters. The art of customer service is just that – an art. Getting the tone just right is crucial to expanding your bottom line. Unfortunately, customer service isn’t always second nature to a lot of us. It takes continual learning to do it well consistently. Answer 365 is a call centre that deals with a high volume of calls for thousands of Canada’s businesses – so we know a thing or two about what to do, and what not to do, when delivering customer service over the phone. Let’s take a look at the top ten things you should avoid doing when you answer the phone:

1. Skip The Speaker Phone
It’s convenient, sure – but it doesn’t give your callers the sound quality they deserve. Don’t answer the phone from a distance: show callers you care and are present by not making them strain to hear you.

2. Ditch The Chewing Gum
Of all of the things not to do when answering the phone, this one tops the list. Nothing says unprofessional like the sound of smacking gum. If gum is a problem in your office, it’s a wise idea to institute a no gum-chewing policy for folks answering the phone.

3. Avoid Distractions
Don’t get distracted by the room and people around you. When someone calls you, they’re focused on you. Having to ask callers to repeat themselves over and over simply because you aren’t paying full attention is an absolute no-no.

4. Eliminate Inconsistencies
Does everyone answer your company phone in a different way? Branding is crucial to establishing customer confidence: write a script and enforce it. An example would be, ‘Thank you for calling A&R plumbing. This is Ashley. How can we help you today?’

5. Limit Background Noises
What kind of room are your phones in? If it’s a noisy garage, shop or office – you may want to think twice. Too many background noises distract your callers – making them have to ask ‘what’ over and over, and leaving them with a less than professional image of your business.

6. Don’t Whisper
Be sure your callers can hear you. Some of us naturally lower our voices on the phone – this is a total no-no. It’s not a game of hide and seek – don’t whisper. If you know that your voice naturally gets quieter when you answer the phone, make a note and work on it.

7. Don’t Shout
Yikes. Nothing says, ‘I’ll just call someone else’ like calling a company with a representative that seems to be shouting! If you naturally raise your voice when on the phone, it’s crucial that you take it down a notch so you don’t scare away the customers!

8. Do Not Use Poor Equipment
Phone equipment that is always disconnecting, dropping calls or full of interference simply won’t cut it. Ensure that your phone equipment is quality, and in proper working order.

9. Don’t Answer Anonymously
Calling a strange company can be a bit off-putting for some of your customers. Set the tone by always saying your name when callers phone in – that way they know you’re a person just like them. When you say your name, you increase customer engagement and loyalty substantially.

10.Make Sure Not to Hang Up By Accident
Whether it’s bad phone equipment, a big distraction, a new employee or accidentally pressing the mute button, try to avoid hanging up by accident at all costs. When you hang up on a customer, you risk losing them forever. If they can’t trust you to keep a phone call going, they’ll end up asking: what can you be trusted with?

Phone customer service is serious business – take it seriously. Follow the ten steps above to sharpen your skills, and be sure to read our blog for more tips in the future!