Phone skills

It’s easy to assume email is the way business gets done these days. But in fact, people will make an estimated 140 billion calls from mobile click-to-call alone in 2019. That’s about 20 billion more than in 2018 and an additional 30 billion are projected on top of that for 2020.*

The result of all this click-to-call action? The phone call will influence more than a trillion dollars in spending this year.

So, with the ways in which people can contact a business constantly proliferating, why is calling still so popular? The answer is simple: people buy from people.

And the phone call is an opportunity to connect with a real, live human being.

When you treat phone calls as a golden opportunity to build relationships and add value beyond your product, every ring could yield a customer for life. We’ve put together a list of easy-to-learn phone skills that will help you convert more callers into loyal clients:

Play the name game.

There’s data to support the warm psychological response to hearing one’s name. Asking for a name is a simple practice you can work to your advantage.

When a new customer identifies their name at the outset of a call, ask them to confirm spelling (yes, even if the spelling seems obvious).

Then, repeating it during the call need not be awkward. Looking up records or taking down an action item create the opportunity (e.g., “Okay, I’ve got the details, John. Now, let’s talk next steps.”) to address them by name and establish familiarity.

In taking the time to learn a customer’s name and perhaps offering your own, you’re developing a rapport and allowing space for an organic connection. Make customers feel at home with your business from the very first interaction and reap the benefits. 

Stay warm.

Never underestimate the power of a warm, pleasant greeting in building a relationship with callers. Develop a solid, simple introduction that lets callers know they have reached the right place, and that you are ready and willing to help!

From here, promptly respond to a customer’s needs, especially if they seem frustrated.

How a customer feels they’re being treated can be as impactful as any action taken to alleviate their frustration. Start by listening and responding to what a customer is saying. There’s great power in validating a customer’s feelings with empathy and accountability.

Simple verbiage like, “I totally understand” or “wow, that must be incredibly frustrating,” can completely turn a call around before you even get down to solving the problem.

Pro tip: Always avoid “I don’t know” as a response to any customer inquiry. It isn’t helpful and detracts from the trust you are trying to build. If you’re stumped by a customer’s question, focus on what you can do, rather than what you cannot.

Not sure what the ROI of real personal connections truly is?

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Ex: “That’s a great question! Jane would be the best person to help you with that. I would be happy to try her line for you.”

Provide relief.

When you speak with a customer by phone, you’re sharing much more than information: you’re providing relief by anticipating and fulfilling their needs.

In addition to phoning in to make a purchase, people call a business when they are seeking a solution to a problem and require a quick response. When something is not working that needs to be fixed or they can’t find an answer to a question, you have the opportunity to really flex your customer service skills.

Go the extra mile to make sure you meet the needs of your customers. Have other customers faced a similar issue? What proved helpful to them? How can you set up a customer now to avoid problems in the future?

In other words…

Be prepared.

Why start from scratch when you can develop a system that works? Brainstorm the top reasons customers contact you by phone. Then, outline best-practices for each scenario.

  • Write down the most common 4 – 5 questions or challenges
  • Note a handful of common answers/solutions for each (especially those you’d need time to otherwise investigate).
  • Create a step-by-step outline for any related procedures. You can even make a checklist to use on each call, ticking off items as you go.
  • Also, note the most helpful follow-up questions. Sometimes, the initial issue isn’t the root of a problem. Asking questions can uncover hidden customer satisfaction issues.
  • Outline potential next steps for situations that may not be resolved with one call and be sure to share those with the customer.

Strengthen customer relationships by demonstrating your investment in their success. Proactive solution-seeking can pave the way for higher customer retention and word-of-mouth referrals.

Pick up when they come to call.

There is value in seeing this statement as figurative, but today, we mean this quite literally. Answer the phone! While this may sound like common sense, business owners on the hustle often (understandably) struggle to meet this very basic customer service expectation.

Anyone who has had to press “0” until their thumb goes numb to dodge a phone tree and connect with a real human understands the disparity between what customers need and what they receive. Within this gap, however, lies an opportunity for businesses to stand out from the competition.

Ruby is here to help you turn more callers into clients when your business=busyness. Over ten thousand business owners have trusted our live, virtual receptionists to elevate their customer service experience, and capture prospects before losing them to voicemail.

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*Invoca 2018 Report

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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.