Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
At the risk of dating myself, I have to say things have changed.
Back in the day, we were taught the importance of answering the office phone with the customer in mind.
We were held to very high standards for meeting those expectations because of the direct effect a phone call can have on how well a customer’s needs are met.
I recently phoned a service provider and was horrified by the person who answered the phone. They were abrupt, unknowledgeable, and borderline rude.
I ended that call and really wondered how that business survived in today’s competitive environment.
Customer Service Is No Longer An Option
We have all experienced a less-than-positive experience with someone who represented a business.
And often, we make purchasing decisions based on those experiences.
The good news is most businesses today understand that extraordinary customer service is crucial for a healthy bottom line, and prioritizing a positive customer experience is the first step.
We were taught it in school, and we have experienced it in life. First impressions mean a lot.
When a customer calls a business for the first time, you have a great opportunity to make a lasting first impression.
You have a few moments to make that person feel happy that they called and confident that their issue will be resolved.
Or feel like they will have a battle on their hands to get what they were calling about.
The office receptionist who answers the phone should be trained on the proper way to answer a business phone.
Phone training will help employees understand that how they answer the phone has a direct effect on the customer experience.
Provide employees with a telephone script to help ensure that they answer the phone the same way every time.
Create customer service standards that help steer employee behaviors.
Telephone training is critical to that first initial customer contact.
Example Business Telephone Script
We have created a sample business telephone script to help you ensure all calls to your business are answered the way you want – with the customer in mind!
“(1)Good morning (afternoon) (2)thank you for calling ABC Business.
(3)This is Tiffany how (4)may I help you?”
The telephone greeting should not be excessively long.
For example, this greeting might be considered too lengthy:
“Good Monday morning, thank you so much for calling ABC Company. We are the number one company for widgets in the southeast, this is Tiffany, the receptionist, how may I help you today?”
No one wants to listen to the history of the company; they simply want to speak to someone who can help them.
Telephone scripts can be modified to support the different seasons of the year (seasonal greetings).
This example telephone script has four distinct parts that are important to how well you communicate with the customer. Consider each part as you create your own business telephone script.
1. Telephone Greeting
No one likes to interact with a low-energy voice. Train employees on how to inflect their voice and smile while they speak to create a positive voice tone.
An upbeat opening (good morning) to the greeting sets a positive tone for the customer and communicates a level of professionalism.
2. Acknowledge The Caller’s Value
People like to know that an organization appreciates their business.
Regardless of the reason for the call, let the customer know that their call is important to the business.
Thanking the customer (thank you) for calling communicates that you value their business.
3. Identify The Employee
Everyone wants to know who they are speaking with.
Have the employee identify themselves (this is Tiffany) when answering the phone.
This will personalize the interaction and give the customer a contact name and resource for future reference.
4. Offer Assistance
Customers are calling for one reason, and one reason only – they have a question, or they need help with an issue.
Ask the customer (may I help you) how you can help.
This simple gesture sends a message that the person answering the phone cares and wants to take care of customer concerns.
10 Tips To Strengthen Training
1. Provide employees with a written script for how you would like them to answer the phone.
2. Help employees understand your expectations for a great customer experience and teach that their approach to answering the phone impacts that experience.
3. Incorporate your expectations into individual goals as part of the global performance management system.
4. Monitor phone interactions to ensure the organization is represented appropriately and confront employees who do not meet expectations.
5. Support training efforts by requiring leaders to model the desired behaviors and hold employees accountable for adhering to standards.
6. Be consistent in managing employee performance to ensure you achieve the desired results.
7. The person answering the phone should know how to find the answers to any questions asked of them. Create a manual for the reception area that can help answer common requests or questions.
8. Identify a monitoring system that can help with monitoring employees during the training process.
9. Employee goals should include desired phone interactions that target a positive customer experience.
Lastly, remember that not everyone is good on the telephone. Assess the different social styles and put people on the phone who are good at interacting with customers. And put those who don’t have a natural tendency to social interactions behind the scenes.
If you would like to learn more about customer service on the telephone, you can check out a great book on the subject – The Best of the Telephone Doctor.