Top 10 tips to improve call handling

Category: Call handling and numbers

First impressions count, and you only get one shot at impressing your 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 in this.

We’ve curated our top ten tips on how to best handle your calls effectively 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

How to handle calls effectively

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 ten call handling tips to ensuring your customers value your brand before, during, and after a call.

1. Answer quickly and be ready with the right information

When the phone rings, make sure it gets picked up, ideally within 3 rings. Having a positive experience in the first few seconds of calling you sets your prospects 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. Whoever takes the call needs to be confident and competent. And when a this is where things can start to fall down. A call whisper can be used to notify the call handler of the source of the call, for example, if an email campaign has been sent, a call whisper can announce that the call originates from that.

It’s key that the roll-out of your marketing campaign is complete and everyone is kept up-to-date with your marketing efforts. Do all staff – not just those in sales – know what marketing is going out and when? Could they answer questions about the enquiry or at least find someone who can?

2. Qualify the caller and listen to their response

Establish the caller’s requirements and take their contact details before going any further. This will ensure you can follow the enquiry up. 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. These questions can also help you uncover opportunities for new products and services.

Using call recording enables you to review customer phone calls for training and monitoring purposes. Listening to the recordings can help you identify areas for improvement, and also flag best practice and success 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.

You can use call recording to listen to your tone of voice as well, to review how you’re coming across to callers. It can often be quite eye-opening – you might find that you’re unintentionally speaking a bit faster or quiter than you realise.

4. Don’t leave callers hanging on hold

Putting a caller on 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. If you need to put someone on hold, consider taking their details and saying you’ll call them back.

This point goes back to being prepared for the call. The more your call handlers know, the less likely they are to need to keep callers waiting.

Using detailed call analytics lets you to see how many times the phone rang and how long people were on hold for. This will highlight the areas you need to look at in order to improve.

5. Be prepared for well-researched prospects

Pretty much everyone does some research before they call you. Most customers shop around on the internet before making a call. Be ready for the ‘ready to trade’ customer 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. Using call tracking software gives you more detail of the search terms and pages on your website that callers 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 quote, 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 customer relationship management (CRM) system 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 (being mindful of obtaining their consent 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. You can also 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 – enabling you to focus marketing efforts on those areas.

9. Don’t hang up without a positive outcome

If the enquiry is for a product you don’t have in stock, try to offer an alternative. Don’t let the call end with a disappointed customer 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 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 within a certain number 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 part of it.

Summary

Good call handling can make the difference between a satisfied and an unsatisfied customer, and this directly impacts the bottom line. As your business grows, the right call handling features will ensure your teams deliver outstanding customer service and never miss a sales call. Learn more about Mediahawk’s superior call handling features, and how they can help you.

About the author - Harry Bott

Harry Bott, Director at Mediahawk, has over 20 years of experience helping marketers generate a better response from their marketing. He has enabled businesses to improve their conversion rates through his consultative approach and deep understanding across various sectors, including automotive and care homes.

Call centre operations.
Discover Mediahawk's advanced call handling features

The right call handling features will ensure your teams deliver outstanding customer service and never miss a sales call. Learn more about Mediahawk’s superior call handling features, and how they can help you.

Read our latest blogs

Unlocking full beds: A care home’s guide to boosting occupancy

Care homes play a vital role in providing specialised care to the elderly and individuals with diverse personal care needs and medical…

How to track your referral channels and gain a 360-degree view of your leads

Whether it’s leads from a referral partner or directory, or engagement with your sponsored and placed content, prospects from referral channels often…

Driving growth in a flat economy: How to still hit your marketing objectives

Despite the recent news that Britain’s economy fell into a recession at the end of 2023, budget growth for UK marketing…