Providing excellent over-the-phone customer service is quintessential to the success of a small business, especially with so many being in highly competitive markets. A recent study conducted by Invoca found that a positive phone interaction can turn 80 percent of callers into regular customers. However, the study also found that a negative phone experience can lead 74 percent of callers to seek out another company. To help founders put their best foot forward when communicating with consumers, here are five tips on how to approach customer calls.
Always be courteous
The importance of exercising courtesy when interacting with customers over the phone cannot be overemphasized. Coming across as impolite or disinterested can end potentially lucrative business relationships before they begin. When on the phone, founders should always ask callers how they would like to be addressed, speak clearly, never interrupt, express gratitude, and ask before placing them on hold.
Use positive language
It’s also important to be mindful of the language used when speaking with customers over the phone. Using words and phrases that convey warmth, energy, and enthusiasm will help consumers form positive associations with a company. Instead of using bland affirmations like “sure” and “okay,” use more engaging phrases like “absolutely” and “I’d be glad to.”
Create a professional and succinct greeting
Whenever a customer calls a small business, it’s important that he or she is met with an upbeat, professional and succinct greeting. An ideal business greeting should identify the name of the business and the person speaking.
Invest in a toll-free phone number
The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that small business owners invest in toll-free phone numbers for two reasons. One, it conveys a greater level of professionalism than a regular phone number with the local area code. And two, having a phone number that spells out a word relevant to a small business’s industry can be useful for building brand awareness.
Don’t let calls go to voicemail
One of the leading causes of consumer dissatisfaction with a business over the phone is the inability to speak to a real person. A recent Consumer Reports survey found that 67 percent of respondents hang up when they can’t get a human being on the line. As such, small business owners should consider using a virtual receptionist to take calls when they can’t.
Expert customer service is essential to small business growth and provides customer retention. Be sure to give your business a great first impression and immediate excellent customer relations. Small businesses have turned to professional services to support an effective model of growth by way of great customer service.
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For more tips and inspiration for small business owners, visit Small Business Pulse SF Bay Area.