Especially today, a customer’s voice has never been louder or had more influence on a company’s image.
This is due in large part to the saturation of social media in our daily lives. If a customer has a bad experience with a company, it is easier than ever for them to post their experience on a social network or public forum where hundreds, thousands, or even millions, of people can read and be influenced by their review.
One of the most important means of communication between a business and its customers is the phone. If your business has a call center, remote sales team, or customer service representatives that utilizes a business phone system, then the following guidelines can help ensure customer satisfaction and retention.
Initial Point of Contact
From the initial “hello,” a customer should feel appreciated and valued, which is critical to retention. Often the simplest expressions of welcome are enough to make a huge difference in a customer’s call experience. Being polite to a customer from the get-go seems obvious, but it is often over looked.
With a premium VoIP (Voice over IP) business phone system, however, you can take the initial point of contact to the next level by gathering all the necessary information about a customer before the phone is even answered. This is done through “application integration” that syncs the phone system with your business’s customer relationship management (CRM) software.
So, you can see who is calling, what service or product they have purchased, and pending or resolved issues. With all of that information in your arsenal, you will be able to employ the friendly salutation paired with pertinent information about the customer that will make them feel valued and understood. The call’s activity will be logged automatically in the CRM and if notes are taken during the call, they are instantly updated in the CRM so you’ll be prepared for the next call.
Positive Interaction over the Phone
There are some phone experiences that customers hate above all the others: being transferred from wrong person to wrong person and being put on hold. These can be hard issues to resolve, especially if your business has a large phone system or volume intake, but there are solutions.
Setting up an automated attendant is a smart move if there are many different avenues that a call can be routed when a customer calls. It’s best to set up an auto attendant that allows callers to simply be transferred to an extension based on a selection from the first menu. Be careful to keep it simple, though. If your auto attendant has too many menus, then customers tend to get frustrated. Nobody likes talking to a machine for very long.
Putting a customer on hold is inevitable, but it’s still an unpleasant experience. If you put a customer on hold, give them an estimate on the time that they will have the wait. If they have to wait too long, offer to return their call or send a follow-up email. Also, make their wait time enjoyable with appropriate hold music. Do not use elevator music! Use customer surveys to let customers choose what they want to listen to while on hold. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What would you want to listen to on hold?
Create a Relationship that Lasts
It’s great to have a customer write a good review for your company due to a positive phone experience, but it’s even better to keep that customer coming back to your business. A six-month check-up saying, “Hey, we’re here if you need us, and we hope you’re doing well” can often do the trick. Again, making the customer feel valued is of the utmost importance.
Regular communications with a customer will lead the customer to choose your business first if an issue arises where your company’s services are needed. Be careful not to get spammy, though—that’s a fast track to losing a customer.
With that said, do not burn a single bridge; it’s easy to get frustrated with a disgruntled, unreasonable customer over the phone, but working on the phone etiquette mentioned above and follow-up communications can help curb most cases of malcontent that could potentially harm a relationship with a valuable customer.
Reward the Customer for their Business
Believe it or not, people like to be rewarded for what they do and customers are no different. But, here’s the great thing about customers: if you do something for them, they’ll do something for you. So, reward them for choosing your business!
Customers do not always need material objects like a baseball cap or a gift as a reward, though. If your business is just starting out, spending money on baseball caps isn’t exactly cost-effective. Something as simple as recognition in your company’s newsletter or a shout-out on your business’s website can be just as effective.
Rewarding your customers is an excellent way to make them feel compelled to go online and write a positive review about your business. Truly, it is a win-win because your business is happy and so is the customer.
If your company follows these guidelines, your business’s phone system will stop just being a necessary component of your business; it will actually start generating revenue. Remember that these guidelines are not comprehensive or foolproof. Be innovative and creative with the way your small business handles its office phone system.