OfficeHQ’s Top 10 Tips for answering the phone like a pro

Not everybody is great on the telephone. In fact, many people avoid answering phone calls entirely, especially when the incoming call is from an unknown number.

To guarantee a great first impression for your business you must ensure that the person answering the phone conducts themselves in a professional manner. To help you master the art, we share with you our most effective phone answering advice.

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OfficeHQ’s Top 10 Tips for answering the phone like a pro:

1. Smile. We can’t recommend this enough – you can hear the happiness radiate down the phone line.

2. Greet with your business name. Callers will know they have reached the correct company and not misdialled. If you are your own brand, answer using your own name instead.

3. Keep your greeting snappy. If your company name is exceptionally long or if there’s a tag line you like to use, don’t use both. The purpose for answering is to hear why this caller is phoning your business and to determine how you can help them. Long greetings can sound clumsy and scripted and encroach on the space where your caller wants to speak. Be mindful of listening to the caller.

4. Be consistent. However your phone is answered, make that part of your branding and make sure it is the same every time. Ensure that all staff members are familiar with your desired answering style too.

5. Be alert and on point. Listen to what your caller has to say and give them your full attention. Repeat names, phone numbers and email spellings to ensure they’re correct and that you can make contact again.

6. Speak clearly. This is especially important if the line is bad and there is distortion. By speaking clearly you eradicate a lot of repetition and wasted time on the phone and avoid potentially frustrating your caller.

7. Answer within three rings. This is standard expectation in business and shows that you’re available and eager for more work.

8. Always have a back-up plan. When you’re not able to answer within three rings it is important to have an alternative solution to answer your calls. Meetings, appointments, family time or even calls in the middle of the night require an effective solution to capture all your potential customers.

Your voicemail should be professional! (i.e. not a recording of your favourite music track or even the standard mobile greeting that’s supplied as standard by your provider) Your callers need to know they’ve reached the right person or company and have confidence that their message has been received.

Record a clear greeting yourself or ask OfficeHQ to arrange a voicemail account for you. Even better, why not get yourself a virtual receptionist to answer the phone when you can’t? OfficeHQ offer live receptionist cover 24×7 every day (and night!) of the year.

9. Return calls when you say you’re going to. If you say you’re going to call back, then do it. Even if you don’t have the right information yet – just phone your client to say you don’t have an answer yet. This shows them that they’re valued, important and that you’re thinking about them. Remember too that some of your callers who haven’t embraced mobile technology may wait at home for your call. Keep that old fashioned etiquette alive.

10. Enjoy speaking on the phone! We are blessed with a plethora of means of effective communication, which as well as giving us a 24×7 international audience and keeping us all busy around the clock, it also means we can always be in contact with one another.

If any of your business clients contact you via telephone, then enjoy it. These are the people who will keep you in business and tell their friends about you and there is no better marketing tool than happy customers!

Kate Thomson

OfficeHQ Pty Ltd

1300 ANSWER (1300 267 937)

www.officehq.com.au

 

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Up to 70% of first time callers to businesses hang up and call a competitor when they have a bad caller experience?

Research conducted by OfficeHQ on consumer attitudes to handling of their phone inquiries is conclusive: ineffective call handling will result in lost business.

According to the Australian Caller Index™ 2014, 94% of consumers say that effective call handling is critical in creating a positive first impression. That may not be a revelation to most people but the implications for business of all sizes when the first impression is a bad caller experience, should make owners and managers responsible for customer experience take notice.

Not surprisingly, the top two reasons new business inquirers are compelled to hang up and call a competitor company are:

  1. The call is answered by a person who lacks courtesy and professionalism, and
  2. The person answering the phone lacks knowledge and can’t answer the caller’s questions.

Not only is it highly likely they will hang up and call another business if their call is not handled well, 83% of Aussies will tell family and friends to avoid a business based on their experience.

Why is it that Australian business continues to underinvest in this critical aspect of the customer experience?

In the interests of managing costs, many businesses have turned to technology and/or off-shore call centres, but the research reveals that the greatest irritation for Aussies calling a business for the first time, is having their calls answered by technology or diverted to an overseas call centre. Australian callers prefer to speak to a person (92%) but even then, if their call is not handled effectively, 89% of those surveyed will disregard a business.

The research demonstrates that the personal touch matters most when contacting a business. Despite the multiple alternatives available to consumers today to contact businesses, almost two thirds of people will pick up the phone to make that first contact. They prefer a person to be at the other end of the phone line and they expect a professional answer by a courteous, knowledgeable person who can assist with their enquiries.

Bring back the Officer of First Impressions!

The first impression your callers have of your business is determined by the quality of the call handling experience. The receptionist (a.k.a. the Officer of First Impressions) could be the difference between a good and a bad first time caller experience.

The concept of bringing back the traditional phone answering and receptionist solutions may not be the best fit solution for the workplace of today and for the future. From sole operators to global enterprises, the traditional workplace is quickly evolving into collaborative workspaces, remote offices and off-site locations. The concept of a receptionist on-site working “core business hours” will unlikely be the best alternative to the dilemma of re-focusing attention on managing first contact, first impressions of your business.

Reception as a Service™ is the professional answer.

Otherwise known as the “virtual receptionist”, the combination of state of the art technology and highly trained, professional receptionists can deliver a premium reception service on behalf of your business.

This is achieved through the deployment of integrated telephony and CRM technologies that provide instantaneous availability of company information along with real-time information about employees availability and contact preferences for calls and messages utilised by professional receptionists answering your calls and providing your customers with an exceptional caller experience, especially first time callers where first impression matters.

The virtual receptionist doesn’t need to be employed by your business and they don’t need to be located at your premises and they can be one or many and still be highly knowledgeable and competent to professionally, courteously and effectively greet and assist your callers every time. Reception as a Service™ is a cost effective, modern alternative to the Officer of First Impressions. A virtual or cloud solution, these services are available on demand and can be activated based on business requirements from taking call overflow to 24×7 call answering.

About OfficeHQ

OfficeHQ provides specialised, professional, outsourced telephone answering services, including messaging and appointment scheduling – all built and delivered on a cloud-based platform serving over 25,000 global customers.

Founded in 2003 by David Atkinson, an IT entrepreneur with 30 years’ experience building software and telephony systems for large corporates, OfficeHQ is a fast growing, locally based, Australian private company with global operations in the US, Canada, UK and Japan.

We were the first virtual reception service provider to launch with an in-house developed, cloud communications platform, comprising of an integrated, real-time billing, voice and CRM system, with the ease of instant activation and pay-as-you-go subscriptions.

OfficeHQ embraces activity-based and flexible working; employing a fully-trained remote workforce, located in collaborative hubs around the world in Australia, the US the UK and Japan.

Angela Peverell

angela@officehq.com.au | 1300 ANSWER (1300 267 937)

Sales & Marketing Director, OfficeHQ Pty Ltd

Virtual Reception – not just for start-ups!

What do you think when you hear the words “virtual receptionist”? Most businesspeople think of small businesses, staffing crises, and a desire to “look bigger than we are”.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

It’s true that start-ups, sole traders and SMEs can get significant benefits from virtual reception services. However, a growing number of medium and large businesses are realising that virtual receptionists can provide them with a number of advantages over the competition.

Let’s take a look at three myths about virtual reception being “just for start-ups”, and how the capabilities of phone answering services can be applied to larger organisations.

Myth: Start-ups need virtual receptionists to compensate for a lack of staff.

Reality: All businesses can benefit from greater front-desk availability.

Many larger businesses may assume that low headcount is an issue only experienced by their smaller counterparts. But what about after-hours or holiday periods, when most employees aren’t available; and peak demand windows, when staff may face more inquires than they can handle? Failure to maintain adequate phone answering service during these times can result in lost leads, missed opportunities, and reputational damage – no matter the size of the enterprise.

Professional virtual receptionists, like those provided by OfficeHQ, can be “on stand-by” to take overflow or cover for times when regular employees are unavailable. In other words, a call answering service doesn’t have to be running 24/7: it can scale to your business’ capacity requirements whether you’re a start-up or an ASX-listed enterprise.

Myth: Only start-ups need to work on having a good “phone manner”.

Reality: All businesses can benefit from more timely and refined telephone responses.

How often have you let the phone ring simply because you were working on something else? Or gotten a tetchy email from a customer when your colleague didn’t pass on a message? The phone is the “first impression” of your organisation: prompt answering and reliable message-taking are only two elements that you need to put your best foot forward. This helps start-ups look like larger, more established outfits, but also sustains the reputation of larger businesses.

Virtual receptionists are, above all else, timely. The best virtual reception services will respond to 90% of calls within 10 seconds, reducing abandoned calls and generating higher rates of customer and stakeholder satisfaction (OfficeHQ, for example, offers uptime guarantees similar to the best hosting providers). They’ll also offer a range of message delivery options, from email transcripts to SMS notifications that summarise the caller’s details and get them to you as quickly as possible. They can even notify the caller that a message has been delivered for that extra touch of customer service. It’s the little things that count.

Myth: Start-up owners can’t afford to lose a lead while they’re out of the office.

Reality: Neither can CEOs.

Mobility is a big part of business today; we travel and engage in meetings far more frequently, in more locations, than ever before. Both small businesses and larger ones need to ensure their people stay readily contactable without reducing their mobility. Losing a sales lead from a missed call hurts, no matter whether you’re a bootstrapping entrepreneur or top-tier executive.

Virtual reception services do more than simply answer calls on behalf of the business. They can also centrally manage the number of channels which someone might use to contact an individual. Virtual receptionists can receive calls from both landline extensions and mobile numbers, for example, allowing them to eliminate duplicate messages and inform the caller of the employee’s situation.

Angela Peverell
angela@officehq.com.au | 1300 ANSWER (1300 267 937)
Sales & Marketing Director, OfficeHQ Pty Ltd

 http://www.officehq.com.au