Convert More Sales Through Professional Telephone Answering

Post published 24th June, 2014

Telephone answering is something almost every business needs to do.  It’s a relatively straightforward task, yet in my opinion not enough businesses train their staff on the importance of professional telephone answering and how to do it well. 

Done properly it can create a great first impression for your business, capture sales leads effectively and be a sales tool in its own right.  Done badly new business opportunities will be lost and existing customers could feel taken for granted.  If this is happening in your business you may never find out the true extent of the damage being done by not following professional telephone answering practices.

Professional Business Telephone Answering

How You Can Implement Professional Telephone Answering In Your Business

The first and most important thing is to actually answer the phone.  This may seem a strange point to make, yet it is amazing how often small businesses let calls go unanswered, sometimes to a voicemail, sometimes just to ring out.  Don’t always assume that callers will leave a message, not everyone will, especially if this is a new business enquiry.  If a customer is phoning your office they want to speak to someone, if they can’t speak to someone in your business they may well call another company, and if they answer the chances are they will not call you back.

Furthermore, you need to answer the call promptly.  Prompt telephone answering shows your callers that you are keen to speak to them.  You will never put a caller off by answering the phone too quickly, but on the other hand if you take a long time to answer it could be viewed by the caller that you are maybe already not managing to deal with tasks efficiently.

Sit upright and smile when you answer the phone.  This sounds really cheesy I know, but it will come across in your voice.  You want your callers to hear that you are on the ball and happy to be answering their call.

When you answer, greet the customer, give your company name, and if appropriate your own name, then ask how you can help.

For example, “Good afternoon, Squeaky Clean Windows, Donna speaking, how can I help?”

Straight away you have confirmed to the customer that they have called the right place.  You have given your name, even if they don’t know you personally by giving your name you have shown that you are taking ownership of the call and conveying that you will take responsibility.  Last of all you have asked how you can help them.  The caller is led in a natural, friendly and professional way to telling you why they are calling.

Compare this to answering with just a “Hello”.  In this scenario, the caller would first of all wonder if they have called the right place.  If they then have to ask “Have I called Squeaky Clean Windows?” to which they receive an answer “Yes”, this sort of approach does not naturally encourage the caller to speak.  If this is someone calling with a new enquiry you really want them to be forthcoming to find out as much information as possible from them and to start building a rapport.  Although they may talk, if the caller does not feel entirely at ease for whatever reason they may take your information and then say that they will need to call you back after they have thought about it, or stall in some sort of way, rather than actually committing to a sale or an appointment over the telephone, which is much more likely if they have been able to talk comfortably with whoever answers the phone.

Listen carefully to what the caller is telling you and write down notes if you need to.  If the caller mentions their name, make a note of this and then if appropriate use their name when you are talking to them.  It shows that you listened and using their name makes the caller feel valued.

If you are asked a question that you don’t know the answer to saying “I’ll find out for you” sounds so much more helpful than simply saying “I don’t know”.

If the caller asks for a particular person who is not around at the moment try saying “I’m sorry, John’s not here at the moment, can I help?” This way you are still encouraging the caller to talk to you, rather than call another business with their enquiry.

If you need to take a message for a colleague take details of the name of the caller, their number, the company they are calling from (if appropriate) as well as any message.  Capturing the details of callers ensures that you stay in control.  Even after the call has ended if the caller does not call back to make an appointment for example, you can then call them to arrange it.  Even if a sale is not closed on the initial call so long as you have their contact details you can still progress the sale.

Before you finish the call confirm back to the caller what action you are about to take next, this could be that you are going to pass the message to your colleague, that you are going to send an someone to visit them to give them a quote, that you are going to chase a delivery, whatever it was that you discussed during your call.

It’s important that you do this to close the call so that the caller doesn’t feel that they need to call a competitor.  If your caller is making a business enquiry that you can deal with always make sure leave the caller in absolutely no doubt that you are dealing with their request.

It’s difficult to measure the difference implementing professional telephone answering in your business as you will never really know the extent of missed opportunities through allowing calls to go to voicemail or simply not being as friendly and helpful as you could be.  One thing is certain if you follow the steps above you can be certain that you are doing everything in your power to convert each call that comes in to your business in to a sale.

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