In many instances, your client’s first impression of your company is made over the phone. But without knowing it, you may be communicating negative messages to your callers before you even say hello.
When calling, clients are often greeted with such messages as “press 1 for this, press 2 for that.” Others are put on hold with a static recording that repeatedly says, “your call is very important to us, please continue to hold.” But customers won’t feel important if you keep them hanging on the line or send them bouncing around with circuitous keypad commands.
Phone activity plays a big role in customer satisfaction and your company’s success. To design an efficient phone automation system, consider the nature of your business, what kind of information is typically requested over the phone and what you ultimately want the system to do. Under no circumstances should you plan for a call processing system to replace live people. “That’s not the purpose of it,” says Mike Tropeano, telecom general manager for Office Business Systems in Pine Brook, New Jersey. “It’s designed to take a call and efficiently deliver the message where it needs to go.”
Most businesses get various types of calls from clients, prospects and manufacturers. Each should be handled differently. A generic greeting with succinct directions is fine: “Hello, you’ve reached 123 Products. Press 1 for sales, 2 for management…0 for an operator.” The system can then route calls to the appropriate people or have the operator answer.
Tropeano, whose company has provided communication technology for 32 years, suggests the following tips to keep customers happy and the calls coming.
- Always give callers the option of talking with a live person because there will be those who don’t fit the pre-recorded categories.
- When choosing a company to install your system, select one that supports only one or two product lines. They provide better support.
- Implement a system rich enough to grow with your company. Consider including features like fax-on-demand and integrated voice response.
- Use information mailboxes to tell callers about product specials, directions, business hours and other generic details. They significantly reduce call traffic to your operator.