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Top Ten Tips: How to Improve Call Handling

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When money has been spent on marketing a business it is vital to be prepared for the response. If the inbound enquiries are not handled in the right way, the money spent on marketing will undoubtedly go to waste. The following tips have been gathered using our own experiences (good and bad).

By listening to inbound telephone enquiries using our call recording system we have been able to provide a guide to making the most of those all important telephone enquiries and avoiding the pitfalls.

1. Answer promptly and be prepared

When the telephone rings it's a good idea to have a set number of rings that staff mustn't go over, such as three. It's likely that a caller will have a list of calls to make and if the call isn't answered by about four or five rings they will hang up. Also, make sure everyone in your organisation is prepared for calls in response to marketing activity. Have you given everyone a copy of the latest marketing campaign? Could they answer questions if a caller asked something about your latest offer or campaign? Keep everyone in the loop and this will avoid potential embarrassment if the call handler is unable to assist a new customer.

Use a call whisper function to announce who's calling before you pick up.

2. Qualify the caller and listen to the response

Establish the caller's requirements and take their contact details before going any further. This will ensure you have the opportunity to follow-up the enquiry and don't lose a potential new customer. If the caller asks for a particular service or product you don't sell, open up the conversation and find out a little more about them. It may be that you don’t sell the product or service they asked for but you could sell them into the products and services you have on offer.

Use call recording to play back calls through your PC.

3. Think about your tone of voice

If you are busy when a call comes in, try to relax and take time with the call. You may have a million other things to do that day but every call should be taken in the same way. The customer has taken the time to call you and may buy from you; don't put them off with a rushed or hassled tone of voice. Stop what you are doing, turn away from your PC and take the call calmly and professionally. You will be guaranteed a better outcome.

Use call recording to listen to your tone of voice.

4. Don't leave anyone hold for too long

Use the hold option as a last resort. It makes the caller feel unwanted and they will certainly be more unresponsive as a result. It is much better to take the full details of the caller and have someone call them back (as it's then on your bill), than be left waiting on hold for five minutes. This goes back to the call handler being prepared for the call. If they can talk to the caller a little about the offer or products available whilst the caller is waiting that is preferable to being placed on hold. Of course this is not always possible so the second best course of action is to take the caller's full details and let them know that someone will call them back within 30 minutes.

Use call recording to see how long you left you customers on hold

5. Be prepared for the well researched customer

Most customers shop around on the internet before making a call. Be ready for the ‘ready to trade’ consumer as they may be the hardest to convert. Firstly, if you don’t have the product in stock, try to get them interested in an alternative by finding out a little about their requirements. Ask some leading questions and steer them into a different product that you do have in stock rather than let them go disappointed.

6. Make every caller feel important

Try to put yourself into the shoes of your caller. Make them feel comfortable and get into a discussion about their requirements. Find out a little about them to give you some insight into their buying habits. Act as an advisor, an impartial guide to help them through the tough process of making a purchase. As a result the customer will feel comfortable and build up a feeling of trust which will increase the chance of them buying something from you.

7. Summarise the call

When the call is coming to a natural close, summarise the key points you have discussed. If your caller asked you to provide a quotation, just go over this with them and confirm an agreed time frame to get back in touch. Make sure the caller knows what will happen now with regards to an order placed, quotation request or if there is more information to be supplied.

8. Have a follow-up procedure

When taking telephone enquiries make sure you have a follow-up procedure in place. Take as much information from the caller as they will allow and enter this information into your database to assist you with the follow-up. If the enquiry consisted of sending out information to a customer, have in place a set number of days or hours to carry this out. Again, have a set number of days to follow-up with a call once the information has gone out. Keep in contact with the enquiry via email, telephone and direct mail. They may not want to buy at the moment, but when they do they'll have your company in mind as you kept in touch.

9. Don’t hang up without a positive outcome

If your enquiry is for a product you don’t have in stock, try to offer an alternative. Don't let the customer end the call feeling disappointed because you were unable to offer a suitable solution. Many callers enquire about a specific item they have seen advertised but may be unaware that you have much more on offer. Make sure you tell the caller about other items that may be suitable rather than the black oval shaped one with white spots that you no longer have in stock.

10. Be consistent

Ensure that everyone throughout the business answers the telephone in the same way after a certain amount of rings. If your company name comes through clearly and concisely and you sound warm and approachable every time, the customer will feel comfortable and more likely to do business as a result.

Use call recording to monitor the way the telephones are being answered

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