This past week I’ve had two customer experiences that left me frustrated, sad and … briefly considering taking my business elsewhere.
One was with my optician. This past August marked my 23rd year as their customer. In person, all of the staff are energetic. They always create a truly personal experience. By phone, it’s as if I’ve contacted a different company. They always answer in a rush, the conversation is impersonal, and it ends with me feeling like an annoyance.
The second experience was with my veterinarian. Again, when I visit the clinic, it’s an amazing experience. Everyone’s kindness and generosity to both myself and my animals is superb. When I call them on the phone there is no warmth, concern or any acknowledgement that I am a long-time customer.
There are three simple ways these companies – and any company – can instantly create the same excellence on the phone that they deliver in person.
What are these three ways? Are they valuable to your customer service experience?
Even on the most difficult of days, and in the most challenging times such as we are currently experiencing, greeting and communicating with customers on the phone can be vastly improved by:
- Smile when you answer the phone. It sounds old-fashioned and silly – and sometimes it feels even sillier. But when you smile, you use facial muscles that impact the sound of your voice. You can be tired, cranky, angry or miserable. None of this will be evident on the phone if you smile while speaking with customers. A mirror placed near your phone can support you in developing this habit. It allows you to quickly check that you’ve remembered to smile.
- Answer between the second and third rings. Know that every phone call interrupts you. You are not sitting there waiting for the phone to ring; you are busy with other tasks. When you answer too quickly, you throw the sound of being interrupted at your customer. While this isn’t always possible in hectic environments (my doctor’s office for example!), when it is, use the first ring to stop what you are doing. Direct your focus to answering the phone. Smile. Answer with the sound of “welcome” in your voice.
- Make it a practice to treat the customers who call you with the same level of service as if they were standing right in front of you. Here’s a quick tip for accomplishing this: Take a photo out of a magazine of someone who could be your customer. Post it near your phone and look at it when you answer. Again, this seems very silly but it works. It will help you establish the habit of greeting every caller with energy, focus and the sound of service excellence.
What is your favourite tip for creating great customer service on the phone? Share it in the comment section below.