When data shows that 65% of consumers prefer to contact a company by phone, 75% expect help within five minutes, and 73% report satisfaction with live chat experiences, what’s a busy small business owner to do?
Option 1: let callers go straight to voicemail, garnering a customer satisfaction rating of meh.
Option 2: hire a dedicated full-time receptionist, taking a sizable hit to your bottom line and providing service equal only to your receptionist’s disposition du jour.
Option 3: have them at ‘hello’ with a human-powered, artfully trained, virtual answering service.
When it comes to first—and ongoing—impressions of your business, it’s all about real, customer-centric, human interaction. So, who should be answering your phone? When it comes to representing you and your company, not just any receptionist will do. You want virtuosos. Masters. True artists.
One critical way to up your phone answering game is to ensure your virtual receptionists are true ambassadors for your business. Receptionists who are highly skilled and fully empowered to make every interaction personable and professional.
For example, one way we achieve this at Ruby is by not relying on scripts, but by using comprehensive training so interactions feel organic as well as informative, leaving customers happy, informed, and impressed by their phone or chat experience.
How virtual answering services can improve customer interactions.
We live in a world of service on a whim and instant gratification. Forgot to pick up toothpaste? Not a worry! A few clicks and bam! At your door in an hour. Hungry? Get warm cookies delivered at midnight. Want to hear that one song you danced to at junior prom right now? There’s an app for that.
For a small business, every customer is critical. If someone calls with a question or an issue, people nowadays are used to getting what they need immediately. If someone calls and there’s no answer, or even worse, a bad interaction, where will they go? To the competition. Or Yelp. Or both.
A virtual answering service provides businesses the most effective, meaningful, and economical alternative to hiring a dedicated receptionist. A virtual answering service is always there for you and your customers, and some even offer live chat 24/7. Virtual receptionists let you get away from your desk and avoid distractions. And the best virtual receptionists can customize service to meet your needs, relieve stress, and save money.
You never know which call or contact is going to be your next big client. So, when you are looking for the perfect call answering solution, be sure it includes the following six key tactics to engage every customer, every time.
Emphasizing warm greetings.
We all know how important first impressions are, and the trick to making a warm, positive one isn’t really tricky at all. In fact, it’s deceptively simple and it starts with a greeting.
The three elements of a warm greeting are:
- A friendly hello! – sets the tone and pace of the conversation
- Your company’s name – assures the caller that they’ve reached the right place
- An offer of assistance – gives the caller the go-ahead to be heard and helped
Practicing active listening.
Once the caller begins speaking, the receptionist should actively listen to what they ask for, how they ask for it, and what they expect as a result. True listening takes just a little bit of practice to perfect!
Five essentials for active listening:
- Focus – hear what the caller is saying as they say it; don’t jump ahead
- Empathize – acknowledge their feelings to establish tone and rapport
- Confirm – repeat the details back to reassure them and build confidence
- Clarify – if more context or clarification is needed, ask relevant questions
- Act – respond to resolve the conversation and confirm satisfaction
Maintaining consistent brand representation.
To give confidence to any potential customer, it’s key that any receptionist shares introductory information about your business and is familiar with industry-speak for returning clients.
Three never-fail guidelines for representing your brand at its best:
Providing targeted questions.
Make the most of each call by gathering information based on your business’s needs. For example, want to know how a caller heard about your business? Have your receptionist ask! That way, you can make an informed approach to the callback.
Three ways to make successful contact:
- Gather – a caller’s name and contact information are just the start
- Customize – ask for an account number, case number, property address, or personal notes
- Verify – read the info back to verify accuracy and let them know they were heard
Optimizing caller success.
Guiding callers through an interaction that leaves them feeling heard, cared for, and supported is an advanced skill. Do they want to leave a message, speak with you directly, or schedule an appointment? A good receptionist handles anything with ease.
These three steps ensure optimal success for every call:
- Availability – is it a sales call? New customer intake? Route it to the right place
- Expectations – give a clear idea of what comes next; be ready for questions
- Confirm – get verbal agreement and understanding to ensure satisfaction
Understanding caller needs.
Every caller has a unique set of expectations when they reach out, but at the heart of every call are a few simple, respectful, thoughtful principles.
Cover all the bases:
- Time – quick and efficient calls are the best use of a key resource
- Knowledge – assure callers that if you don’t know an answer, you’ll get them to the expert
- Connection – smile, be kind and be happy you aren’t a robot
Virtual answering services, the Ruby way.
As you can see, great calls don’t just happen. It takes a lot of knowledge and know-how. When looking for the right virtual receptionist, there’s a lot to keep in mind. Or, you can just call Ruby.
The goal of every interaction is to make the best impression possible; new clients, existing clients, prospective clients. From the first ‘hello,’ to ‘thank you and have a great day,’ the people representing you and your business are a key point of contact that reflects who you are and what your business is about.
Person-to-person interaction is an art form, and our team at Ruby has it mastered. We help create meaningful connections with your customers by providing a professional, and personable experience every call, every time.
Thousands of customers testify to our high standards of reliably personable, professional service that fits perfectly with their daily needs. We’ve here during office hours, after hours, after-after hours, with our receptionist and live chat services.
Give Ruby a call to find out how our virtual answering service can help you share the art of being human with the people that matter the most to your business, your customers!