We know the pandemic has caused incredible challenges for businesses, we recently performed a little informal survey of the most annoying customer services issues. Here are some of the responses:
- Making a phone inquiry and being put on hold.
- Not being able to talk to a real person when calling a business.
- When a call is not returned in a timely manner or not at all.
- When a customer service rep is busy on the phone rather than taking care of me.
So, let’s take a good, hard look at how your business handles phone calls.
Phone communications are the lifeline for so many businesses: it’s how inquiries are most easily made; it’s how people make a reservation; it’s how purchases are ordered; it’s the next best thing to being there in person.
So, answer your phone!
But our business is different! We’re really busy! Our lines ring all the time, we need to direct calls with an automated service!
How’s that working for your customer? How would your customer describe their experience?
If you, personally, are not absolutely thrilled to be directed to a complicated, automated phone response system when you are a customer, do you think your customers are?
But what’s worse? Not being able to speak to a live person on the phone, or when you’re at a business, with cash in hand, and they are neglecting you because of the phone?
Both. Both are terrible for the overall customer experience.
Whose time is more important? The person on the phone, or the customer standing in front of you?
One business we work with had this problem. One employee was responsible for answering the phone — handling general inquiries, taking reservations, giving custom quotes for profitable small and large scale events… This same employee was also responsible for greeting customers, taking payments, and the time-consuming process of getting the guests set up to enjoy their time at the business.
While the employee is knowledgeable and skilled, their attention was always divided and they were not physically able to give good service to either group. Their customer service was a fail across the board. The business was suffering because they could not give their customers the attention they deserved.
The business owners realized that the investment in an additional staff member would not only improve the customer experience, but would also be profitable. One person dedicated to answering the phones and one focused on the in-store customers.
Lucky for this business, their customer relationship management (CRM) software is entirely cloud based – so it could be accessed anywhere. Additionally, this business opted against a traditional ‘landline’. Their phones are mobile based with a ‘mike system’ – which allows for two-way communication between the multiple mobile phones.
So, essentially, one of their employees is there in person, giving great customer service and the person responsible for the phones could be anywhere working with an internet connection and the extra mobile device. When necessary, the “phone only” employee could immediately communicate with the “in person” employee; letting them know of immediate reservations or for extra support on customer inquiries.
This provides not only better communication and customer care, but allows the in-house employee the time and opportunity to upsell. The phone only employee is able to make personalized notes in the CRM software, give thorough quotes, better explain the services – without interruption; all that enhance the customer experience.
Upon a little more investigation, this business realized that they were missing 7 to 8 phone calls outside of their business hours! A few callers left messages, but most did not! What were the calls about? Reservations, inquiries, custom quotes for packages; all profitable business activities!
Was adding this extra employee during business hours and taking phone calls during their off hours worth it financially? Yes! Significantly so. This business saw an immediate uptick in their revenues – even with the expense of the additional employee.
More profitable AND they were giving way better customer service!
We all know that improved service increases the overall satisfaction and customer experience, making it more likely for the customer to continue doing business! A further benefit is that great service also increases the likelihood that the customer will be an evangelist for the business!
If your employee’s time is divided between in-person and phone customer service, we suggest trying the following method, even for only one week.
- Measure your results. Compare this week to the previous.
- Ask repeat customers about their experience: before the additional employee and after. Which did they prefer?
- Review the phone inquiries and learn if the website could be updated to provide information commonly inquired in calls.
- Let us know how it worked. firstname.lastname@example.org