Poor Phone Skills Cost You Money

Given the time and money your company spends on urging people to pick up the phone, it’s in your best interest to make sure all calls are handled with care. If they're not, much of your work as a marketer could be wasted.

Valuable new prospects may never stay on the phone long enough to talk with one of your salespeople if an operator or receptionist gives a bad impression.

So ask yourself these questions:

• Do the people who answer our phones treat callers politely and with respect?
• Do they provide efficient, focused customer service?
• Do they give callers the impression that their calls are of the utmost importance?

Before you answer "yes," think how often you've received that type of treatment when calling other companies; the type of treatment that immediately endeared you to that company.

It's pretty rare, isn't it?

Now, is your staff treating your callers as well as they could…or should?

If not, it’s time to remind your team of how their phone skills and etiquette affect your brand and your company’s bottom line.

People who take the time to call your company - whether it's to buy your product or merely ask a question or two - should be treated as if they are your best customers, because one day they may be. When you "tolerate" them as if they're just another caller or, worse yet, an interruption to your workday, you may never know just how valuable they could have been to your company.

Treating callers with indifference is the equivalent of dirty, broken glass in the front door of your store, or an illogical, poorly designed website: it leaves a lasting impression of carelessness that can easily turn off prospects.

How to Improve Your Staff’s Telephone Presentation

1) Take the time to analyze how your employees are talking with callers. Listen with a critical ear and note the weak spots. Then, develop a written guide as to how calls are to be answered.

2) For a truly impartial analysis of your employees' phone skills and etiquette, hire a "mystery shopper" service.

3) Many people are unaware of the how they sound on the phone, or the effect their less-than-enthusiastic phone personality can have on callers. Record your employees on the phone. By allowing them to hear themselves, you'll provide them with a unique perspective, and a chance to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses.

4) If you decide that your employees still need to improve their phone skills for the betterment of your company, consider providing professional training.

People often do business with people they feel good about. Help your callers feel good about themselves and your company, and you'll be on your way to creating more lifelong customers. Promote that idea daily, not just to operators and receptionists, but to every employee who has phone contact with the public.

Consumers have more options than ever, and your every encounter with potential customers is a chance to prove your company worthy of both their trust and their business, so take advantage of it.

Don't dismiss proper telephone etiquette and technique as anything but vitally important to your company's success. Approach the development of your employees' telephone skills as an aspect of your company's ongoing marketing plan. It's an investment that can bring substantial dividends.