Your customers want your attention whether you know this or not. Some are simply irritated when they call in, wanting to speak to a person instead of being sent to a menu of voice mail options. Others arrive at your business and find that it is nearly impossible to be waited upon. Frustrated, your customers may hang up or walk away, costing your business a customer and harming your bottom line.
Even if you run a busy enterprise with a limited number of personnel available to offer personal service, there are ways that you connect with your customers and maintain a personal touch. Read on and we will explore some options that can remove barriers between you and the people you serve.
Modify your menu — Maybe you cannot afford to dedicate an individual to answer your phones. What you can do is change your menu to allow your customers to dial “O” for operator, sending their calls to a live person. Rotate this responsibility among your employees, assigning an individual daily or for part of the day to be available to field calls. Train your people how to handle inbound calls, ensuring that customers are transferred to the right individual and are not sent to voice mail purgatory.
Invest in an operator — Companies with significant inbound calls should reconsider how calls are fielded and scrap or modify their system accordingly. You may not think that you can afford a dedicated phone operator, but if your business is flat or falling, some of that blame could be due to dropped calls. If your staff is reporting that customers are increasingly expressing irritation over your phone system, then you are being warned. Find out what your competitors offer too — if their customers get connected to a live individual, then you should change your phone system accordingly.
Greet visitors promptly – Whether you run an office or a retail outlet, visitors to your business should be greeted as soon as they come in the door. No visitor should be waiting in the lobby without someone acknowledging their presence. If you do not have a receptionist, your staff should take turns welcoming people, ensuring that their needs are being met. This means connecting them with the right individual as soon as possible. Retail employees should always be aware of when a customer is present, welcoming them to the store. Employees should ask customers if they need something and attend to those needs right away.
After hours — For some businesses such as a plumbing company or a medical supply enterprise, round the clock contact with customers is important. A broken pipe or a malfunctioning medical device is an emergency and must be tended to as quickly as possible. This is where a call center can help you out, by providing live support 24 hours each day or when you need it. The way this works is that after hours calls are fielded by the call center with trained operators handling each call as required. This may mean reassuring the customer that someone will be in touch with them right away, with messages forwarded to the right individual immediately. Customers won’t know that they have not reached your business directly, with operators answering the phone as if they work for you. This option is also ideal for businesses that cannot field calls during the day.
Every business should consider how a missed call or ignored customer impacts its body line. You may not be able to afford or even want a full-time receptionist, but you could use a call center to back up your personnel. While there is certainly a cost involved by modifying your customer service options, a lost customer can cost you far more and adversely impact your profitability.
Neal Lacey spends his professional time working as a virtual receptionist and live order taker for www.unitedcallcenter.com. During his spare time he enjoys writing and sharing his telemarketing expertise.