Marketing and advertising doesn’t come cheap. And you often only get one shot at impressing prospects. So, when you’ve got an amazing campaign set to go out to your entire base it’s vital to ensure you’re ready for inbound enquiries to come back to you. Call handling plays a crucial role.
Below are our top 10 tips on how to best handle those enquiries to get the most return from your marketing campaign. But let’s first define the immediate term of call handling.
What is call handling?
Simply put, call handling is how businesses manage inbound or outbound phone calls. This can include numerous processes depending on whether you manage a small team or a fully functioning call centre.
This human interaction of your brand can make or break first impressions or your reputation, so it’s imperative that callers feel that they are getting the best experience when talking to your brand representatives. Call handling and management will concern itself with metrics such as:
- Which call types are routed to different numbers
- Where the calls are routed to and how (IVR menu or straight to a receptionist)
- The length of time it takes for a call to be answered by a representative
- The manner in which they talk with the caller
- The product information they are relaying to the caller
- The time they are on the call
As a marketer, you may not be involved in caller operations to a great extent, and you may have a customer services department that takes charge of your phone enquiries. However, as a channel that reacts to your marketing activities, it’s imperative that you are involved in the overall customer experience and how your products/services are being verbally promoted and sold on the phone.
Here are 10 call handling tips to ensuring your customers value your brand before, during and after a call.
1. Answer quickly and be ready
When the phone rings, make sure it gets picked up, ideally within 3 rings. This positive affirmation to your prospect in the first few seconds of calling you sets them up to know you’re keen to speak with them and reflects on the rest of the service you’ll give them.
Picking up quickly but umming and ahh’ing on the phone however is a no-no. Whomever takes the call needs to be confident and competent. And this is where marketers sometimes fail. Ensure your campaign roll-out is complete.
Do all staff – not just those in sales – know what’s going out and when? Could they answer questions about the enquiry or at least find someone who can? Keep everyone up-to-date with your marketing efforts.
Use a call whisper to announce who’s calling to the person answering the phone.
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 can follow-up the enquiry. 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. You might be able to sway them to be interested in the products and services you do have.
Use call recording to review calls and flag best practice to share.
3. Think about your tone of voice
If you are busy when a call comes in, remember that people can hear a smile. The prospect has called you to buy something. They’re important. Don’t put them off with a rushed or hassled tone of voice. Stop what you are doing, turn away from your work and take the call calmly and professionally. You will be guaranteed a better outcome.
Call recording helps you to listen to your tone of voice.
4. Don’t leave people hanging on hold
Hold should be the last resort. Unless it’s for a specific reason, or to avoid pushing a call from pillar to post, it makes the caller feel unwanted and more unresponsive as a result. Can you take their details and call them back, if you need to research something for them? This goes back to being prepared for the call.
Call analytics allows you to see how many times the phone rang and how long people were on hold for – and where to improve.
5. Be prepared for well-researched prospects
Pretty much everyone does some internet research before they call you. 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.
Mediahawk’s call tracking software has details of the search terms and pages on your website that prospects have visited, giving you important insights to their intent.
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. Put information gathered on the call in to your CRM to assist with any follow-up. Make sure to set a ‘next steps task’ in your CRM as well. Keep in contact with them as appropriate (mindful of obtaining their permission to do so). They may not want to buy now, but when they do they’ll have your company in mind as you kept in touch.
Link your call tracking data to your CRM record so that the entire user journey can be reviewed to see what produces the best sales results – and focus marketing efforts on those areas.
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. When call handling, make sure you tell the caller about other items and cross and up-sell where you can.
10. Be consistent
When call handling, 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.
Of course, the adage of “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” applies here. You’ve got to be able to measure your responses accurately. Sounds easy enough to do online – but what happens when a customer phones you up to complete the sale?
Call tracking and analytics bridges that gap, enabling you to measure response from your entire campaign not just from the online bit of it.