- Always identify yourself at the beginning of all calls.
- Always answer a telephone by saying: “Hello/Good Morning, Grahams Home & Cleaning Care, _______ speaking.”
- From a cell phone, either simply say Hello, or state your name, Hello, _______ here. Do not answer by using words such as “yeah” or “yes.”
- When placing a call, always state your name along with the name of the person you are calling. Example: “Hello, my name is _______ from Grahams Home & Cleaning Care. May I please speak with Ms. Jane Smith?”
- Be sensitive to the tone of your voice. Do not sound overly anxious, aggressive or pushy. It is important your tone conveys authority and confidence. Do not lean back in your chair when speaking on the telephone. Tip: Sit up in your chair or stand during the conversation. When at home, use a personal tape recorder to privately record your own conversations. You will then hear how your sound to others.
- Think through exactly what you plan to say and discuss BEFORE you place a call. Tip: Jot down the items you want to discuss and questions you want answered. In other words, anticipate and expect you will be placed into a voicemail system; plan your message to be as direct and specific as possible, asking the person to respond to specific alternatives or questions. Do not say, “Hello, it’s _______, call me back.” At least state the subject about which you want the person to call you back about.
- Do not allow interruptions to occur during conversations. Do not carry on side conversations with other people around you. The person on the telephone takes precedence over someone who happens to walk in your office or passes by while you are on the phone. Tip: If you must interrupt the conversation, say to the person, “Please excuse me for a moment I’ll be right back.” And when you return, say, “Thank you for holding.”
- Do not allow yourself to be distracted by other activities while speaking on the telephone, such as rustling papers, chewing and eating, working on the computer, or speaking with someone else. Most importantly, do not use a hand held cell phone while driving. Get a headset or speaker phone for the car. Tip: Always treat every caller with the utmost courtesy and respect by giving him/her your undivided attention.
- Make a Good First Impression. When you receive a business call, having a voicemail message that is clearly stated and professional in tone leaves a positive impression on clients and colleagues alike. It makes calling a cell phone feel just as legitimate as making a call to your office’s front desk. Similarly, your voicemail acts as a sort of virtual receptionist to reliably record their message when you’re not free to answer. On the other hand, if your voicemail is prerecorded or sounds too casual, it could cause clients to second-guess your credentials. They might wonder if they have the correct number or decide not to leave a voicemail after all, causing you to miss important information or lose out on potential business. Avoid these work errors by leaving a professional voicemail message on your phone. Could leave a message similar too: “Hi, you’ve reached _______ from Grahams Home & Cleaning Care I’m sorry that I’m not available to answer your call at the present time. Please leave your name, number and a quick message at the tone and I’ll forward your message to the appropriate person.
Also make sure too:
- DO treat your customers like people: This can be a bit difficult for us in the jan/san industry, because we almost always deal on a business-to-business (B2B) level. That said, behind every business decision is a supervisor, manager or decision-maker with flesh and blood. No, the person with whom you communicate may not always see eye-to-eye with you on everything, but they do deserve your respect. Be patient with a customer, and they’ll recognize that you are doing all you can to resolve their concerns and strengthen the relationship and experience they are having with your business.
- DON’T think of it as an “us versus them” relationship: Clearly your business and the customer’s business are different (otherwise, why would you be working with them?). With that comes a difference in perspective. That said, interacting with customers need not be an exercise in banging your head against a wall — so have the patience to recognize that there’s a good chance that both parties want the same thing (a mutually-beneficial relationship). There will be times, such as when a customer calls to cancel their service no matter what, when the end result isn’t one that will help everyone. In these cases, remember that it’s often better to simply let a customer go. As failure to let things go (especially now that social media widely-used) can create a powerful enemy.
- DON’T focus everything on the bottom line: Asking “what could we have done better?” is a great way to find out where you can improve for other customers moving forward, but training your employees to not cater to the customer’s request until that question is asked — without exception, it appears — is a surefire recipe for disaster. Focusing too much on the process, instead of the customer, may not cause problems all the time, but it can and will blow up in your face at some point.