It's been just over a year since starting Fast Food Friday. Every time I think I'm out of things to write about something else comes along. While this might seem relatively minor to some of you, I'm floored by how bad many of you handle phone calls, both making them and receiving them.
Remember, this series is all about ideas to help you build a stronger brand and business, and under the umbrella of Customer Service is good old phone etiquette. That makes today's blue-plate special so crucial to contributing to your reputation. And, it takes so little to create a phone-style that's warm, inviting and encouraging to your clients.
I love searching for statistics on topics I write about, but when it comes to asking Google how many households have phone service the number is off the charts. If you look at my own home, there are five lines...my cell, Sheila's, my office landline, our home line, and my 800 text line. And, while I'm getting to be a dinosaur with two landlines, the cost is next to nothing, because it's part of my service for Internet and TV and I NEVER lose a call or message.
The Art of Talking on the Phone
The secret of success is to treat all customers like your world revolves around them.
How you handle yourself over the phone is at the top of the list of critical marketing tools. At a time when email and texting communications drive the world, a live call is still at the top of relationship building techniques in business!
There was a time when "Ma Bell" used to do classes for business clients on phone etiquette. I remember being sent to a workshop in my Customer Service days at Polaroid and thinking how stupid it was to suggest I didn't have the skill set to answer the phone. But it wasn't about answering the phone; it was how to use the phone as a customer service tool.
As I look back on it today, it was really about how to have a conversation - so, the same way you carry yourself with somebody face to face, is a foundation for how you communicate on the phone. This is just as much about Customer Service as it is verbal communication.
Recently I had a challenge with American Express regarding an offer for a benefit I thought I already had. It took me three transfers before I got the right department and an expert capable of answering my question. Plus, my call was answered offshore and only one of the four people I spoke with actually sounded sincere when empathizing with my complaint. By that time I got to the last person, I was so tired of being handed off, I was rude, and it really wasn't the fault of the rep, but the Amex system.
It's the "slow season" and the perfect time to take on a few projects to strengthen your business.
"The greatest technology in the world hasn't replaced the ultimate relationship building tool
between a customer and a business...the human touch!"
Looking for more great reminders on Customer Service overall, check out Shep Hyken's blog. He's always sharing ideas on how to exceed client expectations!