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Posted by Vivant Skin Care

Phone Etiquette: Does Your Reception Need A Reboot?

 

Seven out of 10 customers will not return because of the way they were treated on first contact. Let that soak in a minute. That means only three out of ten will give you a second chance.

 

Since the first interaction with a customer often occurs via the phone, it’s incredibly important to be sure your phone etiquette is on point. The voice you hear on the phone is the visual for your company. Here are some things to think about before you answer your next call.

 

Two Rings

Three max. Answer the phone quickly. Doing so says, “I’m thrilled you called and can’t wait to help you.” More than four says, “I’m busy chatting with my friend/decorator/nutritionist on the other line and can’t be bothered.”

You may be letting it ring because there’s a client standing in front of you and you’re worried it would be rude to interrupt her. The customer on the phone doesn’t know that and will make all kinds of assumptions about why you’re not answering. In none of these assumptions, you are a customer service hero. Just say a polite, “Please excuse me for just a moment.” Then answer the call and ask the caller if he would mind holding briefly while you finish with your in-person customer. If the caller doesn’t want to be put on hold, get a phone number and let them know you will call back directly. And then, be sure to do it.

 

Smile, Even On The Phone

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop,” says a Chinese proverb.

This pretty much covers everything you need to know about running a business.

If your customers aren’t feeling warmly welcomed and appreciated from the moment of your very first interaction, all the rest of your work is not going to matter. Don’t think that just because you’re on the phone, and the customer can’t see you, that you don’t need to worry about smiling. A smile can be heard in your voice. Ditto a frown or a resting bitch face. If you’re not smiling, your customer will know.

 

Use The Proper Tone

A smile is not enough if your demeanor is less than sunny. Be pleasant, bright, efficient and helpful. So you just came in from a brutal bout of traffic and then spilled coffee on your new white pants. Does your customer need to know this? No. Instead, try sounding like you just received a bouquet of roses from a secret admirer. This is especially important when you have to tell a client that the appointment time they’re requesting is not available. And that leads to our next tip.

 

Be A Problem Solver

If the appointment time your client is requesting is not available, offer alternatives. “I’m sorry. We’re all booked on Friday afternoon,” is a closed door. Open it with a follow up statement like, “But we do have availability Saturday morning, or next week. Which would you prefer?” Keep offering solutions and asking questions until you’ve made the appointment, or solved your customer’s issue.

 

May I Put You On Hold?

Ask. Don’t tell. And then wait for an answer before hitting the hold button. Asking, “can I put you on hold,” and then just doing it without waiting for an answer, breaks the rules of etiquette (not to mention grammar). In doing so, you tell your client that you don’t really care whether or not they mind. Most clients will understand that you’re busy and won’t object to being put on hold briefly. But if you give them no option, they are going to feel deprioritized.

 

Have Good Hold Music

If you must put a caller on hold, do not make them listen to 1973 Rod Stewart. Services like Cloudstream or Mood: Media offer quality, customizable playlists for your hold music with options for adding messaging. You can use the hold time as an opportunity to offer quick seasonal skin care tips, remind your customers of your hours, or promote a special offer. These companies will even write the message and produce it for you. Just remember to keep it light, informative and value oriented. No hard sell.

 

It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye

But it doesn’t have to be if you follow a few simple rules. When you reach the end of the call, be sure to ask if there’s anything else you can help with. Thank the customer for calling and use their name. A little personalization goes a long way. If they’ve booked an appointment, say, “we look forward to seeing you on (fill in the date and time of their appointment).” If they’ve not booked an appointment, give them a little parting encouragement in the form of, “we hope to see you soon.” And finally, don’t be too quick on the draw. Let them hang up first. You don’t want to leave them thinking you were in a rush to get back a more interesting conversation.