Customer Service Tips: Connecting with Customers

Looking for ways to connect with your customers? Here are 10 surefire ways to cultivate a lasting connection:

  1. Birthdays. Send a handwritten birthday card. Throw in free service that day for an extra WOW!
  2. New babies. Send a congratulatory card or a new baby gift. Follow up at Mother’s/Father’s Day with another card full of well-wishes.
  3. Moving offices. Send a plant, gift basket of tasteful office supplies, or a gift card to a restaurant near their new digs.
  4. Things you have in common. Did both of you grew up in the same small town? You both are die-hard bacon aficionados? Send a link to a news article about what you have in common, along with a note saying, “Thought you might find this interesting.”
  5. Awards and big deals inked. Send your own branded award certificate or have a trophy made commemorating the occasion.
  6. Landmark achievements. Did your client just finish a marathon? Played their personal best round of golf? Did one of their children just graduate from college? A lot of hard work and dedication got them there! Give them a shoutout on Facebook or Twitter.
  7. Hobbies and interests. Next time you get a chance to talk with them, ask them if they’ve been able to go white water rafting lately or how their garden is doing. They’ll be touched you remembered and will love to chat about it!
  8. Favorite sports team. Send a congrats email next time their team wins a big game!
  9. Spouses and family member names. A small courtesy that is often overlooked these days, asking how their spouse or child is doing by name can help cement your connection.
  10. When they’re under the weather. Send a notecard wishing them well. Mailing a box of herbal tea along with that card adds another touch of thoughtfulness.

Like these tips? Print them out and hang them at your desk to keep them top-of-mind all year long. Download a handout on SlideShare.

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Whether you field phone calls daily or pick up the receiver on rare occasions, you can turn any exchange into a powerful touchpoint for your business. Here’s how!

Make the most of your words.

A friendly, professional tone is key to making a great impression on callers, and with an upbeat tone, even lackluster replies like “uh-huh” and “okay” can be pleasant. But why not use words that are guaranteed to wow? Try saying “absolutely” without exuding enthusiasm — it’s darn near impossible! Pepper your conversations with cheerful words and phrases like these, and even a 30-second exchange can make a positive impact on your caller:

My pleasure!

I’d be delighted to!

Certainly!

Absolutely!

Wonderful!

Thank you!

You’re welcome!

…and there are plenty more where that came from!

Showcase your confidence.

Exuding confidence isn’t about having all the answers — it’s about being prepared for any question. That may seem contradictory, but it’s easier to handle tough questions and keep callers happy than you might think. When you’re faced with a tricky question or an odd request, replies like this will buy you the time to find the solution:

Great question! I’ll be happy to find the best person to answer it.

Wonderful! I’ll put you in touch with the best person to help you.

Once you’ve given your confident response, place your caller on hold and find the team member best suited to help. Piece of cake!

Roadblock? What’s a roadblock?

What if you’re faced with a tricky situation, and you aren’t able to find the solution while your caller waits on hold? It’s okay! Really. Keep your confidence up and return to your caller with a solid reply like this:

Thank you so much for your patience! Let me do a little more research and find out for you. May I return your call later this afternoon?

Although the caller’s question isn’t answered with the response above, the is takeaway isn’t “I don’t know,” but “I will help you no matter what.” It’s your desire to help that counts!

How do you keep your telephone conversations positive? We’d love to hear from you!

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Attorney Herb WilsonOur virtual receptionists have been happily answering calls for The Law Office of Herbert W. Wilson II for nearly two years. Following in his father’s footsteps, Herbert Wilson II has been practicing law as a solo attorney since 2009 and aiding the people of his hometown, Gulfport, Mississippi, with their domestic and criminal matters. I’ve asked Herbert about his practice, and his time as a Ruby client!

Tell us about your practice.

I started the office out of my grandfather’s house in late 2009 /early 2010. I was just out of law school and looking for jobs that didn’t exist. I’m now in my dad’s old office from when he was a solo. He’s mostly retired now, but still helps me out from time to time when I need him. Even on days when I don’t need help, he still comes into the office to keep me company and talk me through problems.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My dad and I are close, so my favorite part of my job is getting to work with and spend time with him. My favorite thing about the work itself is when a client tells me that I’ve really helped them. I’m such a big softie, and it just puts me on top of the world when a client takes the time out to thank me.

Did you answer your own phone before you started using Ruby’s virtual receptionist service?

I did. Clients liked it when they could reach me, but didn’t like having to leave voicemails when I was busy.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in your business since hiring Ruby?

I’ve had a much easier time getting retained by new clients since switching to Ruby because they’re getting to talk to an actual person. Prior to Ruby, if I were in a plea hearing and missing a bunch of calls, many of them would have moved on to the next name in the phone book by the time I was able to call back. With Ruby, I’ve noticed people tend to be more patient about waiting for a return call. Clients really seem to prefer being able to talk to someone. I’ve also had an easier time keeping track of missed calls and making sure I can follow through with new and old clients, which keeps me organized and less stressed.

What do your callers think of your receptionist?

I have heard nothing but unequivocal praise. I’ve had multiple lawyers and clients tell me “You have the nicest secretary I have ever talked to!”

Thanks to Herbert for taking the time to chat! If you’d like to learn more about Herbert’s law office, feel welcome to visit his website here.

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How to take a message and make it count.

Resolve to make 2014 a year of magnificent messages! The next time you take information down from a caller, try these simple tips for verifying key information:

Comprehensive content. When a caller has a lot to say, paraphrase it back before wrapping up your call. Reiterating information puts callers at ease, ensures complete and accurate messages, and showcases your attention to detail. Callers and colleagues alike are sure to be impressed by this habit!

“Thank you, Mary! To recap, you ordered the item on December 12, and expected to receive it by the 20th, but it didn’t arrive until the 23rd. Is that correct?”

Superb spelling. With a customized spelling alphabet, the potentially mundane task of verifying a caller’s name becomes a wonderful opportunity to make a connection! Create your own, or use the Ruby Spelling Alphabet to make the most of this interaction. While you’re at it, try doing the legwork for your caller — rather than asking How do you spell your name?, lead with an educated guess:

“Great! Thank you, Ms. Marks! Is that M as in Magic, A as in Absolutely…”  

Glancing at caller ID can be helpful when confirming names and company names. Although it’s not always accurate, it often provides a good jumping-off point for verifying spelling.

Checked-and-double-checked contact information. This one is a must! One transposed digit in a telephone number or misplaced letter in an email address could make it difficult (or impossible) for you or the message recipient to follow up. Read phone numbers back digit by digit, and repeat each letter or numeral of any email addresses you gather. Be mindful of mailing addresses, too, and any other number-heavy information.

Friendly FYI’s. If a caller chooses not to leave a key piece of information, include a friendly FYI to let the message recipient know:

John declined to leave his telephone number, and said you have it. Just an FYI.

An FYI is also helpful when your caller declines to leave a message altogether:

A woman named Kelly called for you this afternoon. I offered to take a message, but she said she’d email you instead. Just an FYI.

FYI’s are a great way to cover your bases and keep everyone in the loop!

What are your message-taking musts? We’d love to hear from you! Share your tips in the comments below.

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*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the cancelled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner.