Many people go in to business because they are very good at their trade, but what they don’t consider is what their customers may be experiencing when they call to try to get help.
With the number of people who work from home, we know that it can be a very smart and cost-effective way to run a small business. If you chose to go down this path, it’s crucial to your customer attraction and retention that you get your phone etiquette skills up to scratch.
Remember, the caller cannot see you and if your marketing material and image looks professional they may imagine that they are calling a company that has a professional receptionist. When they are greeted by a child answering the phone or an impatient spouse, it can be very off-putting. They are just as likely to be turned off and call another company.
That means all your costly marketing efforts to get that potential customer to call you in the first place have gone down the drain. And consider how many people have may tell. Research shows that a dissatisfied customer will tell up to 20 people, and with the increasing popularity of social media this could escalate to hundreds, thousands or even millions of people with the click of a mouse.
Can you afford to lose customers when there is such an easy solution?
3 top tips to portraying your professional image over the phone are:
Tip # 1: Answer the Phone Timely
Studies show that 2 out of 3 home based business owners don’t answer the phone in a timely fashion. Not answering early enough means that a lot of potential clients are slipping through the cracks and finding your competitors instead! Ideally you should pick up the phone after 3 rings. Too early and the caller may not quite be prepared, too late and they will start to get impatient, which doesn’t make for a healthy start to the conversation. If you can’t always pick up the phone after 3 rings, you have 3 options:
a/ Have the calls forwarded to your cell phone – making sure to have a professional voicemail message, recorded in your own voice.
b/ Have the calls forwarded to a professionally sounding message after 3 rings.
c/ Use a call answering service so that the call is always picked up, and your potential customer always gets a professional person to speak with.
Tip # 2: Answer the Phone Professionally
Make sure whoever answers the phone in your home has the right skills and the right attitude to answer the phone in a professional manner. To the caller, they ARE the business and the manner in which they answer the phone will reflect on your business. Do you want your callers to think that you are lazy, rude, impatient…? These are all images that can easily be portrayed over the phone and will extend beyond the person answering the phone – to YOUR business.
Tip # 3: Have a Professional Message
If your calls are answered by a voice mail message when you are out, make sure the greeting is professional and tailored to the business. “You’ve called Matt, Barbara, Timmy, Chip and Mel, we’re all out, leave a message…beep!” – whilst it’s fine for your home number, doesn’t quite cut it for a professional business image.
While it is a tough market for local services with many uncontrollable variables impacting your business success, by having the best phone skills in town, your business will easily and quickly start to flourish through word of mouth and repeat business.