Writing a note

One of the first skills we teach our virtual receptionists is how to guide callers with questions. It’s a super-simple habit to add to your repertoire, and it can help you reach your customer experience goals in just about any situation. Interested? Here are four ways to give guiding a test drive:

Guide to get from here to there. Whether you’re screening a call, solving customer’s problem, or taking a message, you probably need to gather some information. The easiest way to do it? Ask! Volley back to your customer with questions until you collect all the necessary info. When you’re in guiding mode, you automatically avoid awkward dead-ends like this:

Caller: Hi! Is Jim available?

Receptionist: He’s in a meeting.

Yeesh! Now, the makeover:

Receptionist: He’s in a meeting, but I’ll be happy to ask him to return your call. May I take down your number?

Whatever the situation, be prepared to guide your customer to a solution. Anything less would be uncivilized!

Guide to get down to business — politely. Friendly conversation is a wonderful opportunity to build rapport with your customers, but you may not always have the time for a long exchange. After engaging your customer briefly, segue out of chitchat with a guiding question:

Caller: It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?

Receptionist: Absolutely! Are you doing anything special to enjoy it?

Caller: I think I’m going to take my dog to the park. I’m teaching him how to fetch!

Receptionist: How fun! I’m sure the two of you will have a great time. How may I help you on this fine, sunny day?

Guide to deflect tricky questions. When you’re asked a question that would be better answered by a teammate, gathering your customer’s name (or other pertinent information) is a great way to set that teammate up for a great first impression:

Caller: Do you have any I-97s in stock?

Receptionist: Janet in our stock room would be happy to answer that question for you! I’ll try her line. May I have your name?

Caller: My name is Dave.

Receptionist: Thank you, Dave! One moment, please.

By simply collecting the caller’s name, you give your teammate the opportunity to begin her exchange with a friendly “Hi, Dave! I’m Janet. I’ll be happy to check on those I-97s!” instead of a plain old “Hello?”

Guide to give them what they don’t even know they want. When customers seem confused or stuck, guiding questions are a great way to suggest solutions:

We don’t carry that part, but Davidson Supply might have it in stock. Would you like me to call and check on that for you?

If you’re really in the mood to WOW, it even works with non-customers:

Caller: Oh, sorry — I think I have the wrong number. I’m trying to reach Gina’s Restaurant.

Receptionist: That’s okay! Our phone number is very similar to theirs. Would you like the number to Gina’s?

Now that’s dedication to service!

How do guiding questions help you and your business? We’d love to hear your stories — share them in our comments section!

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