I was surprised the other day when a caller thanked me for answering the phone. I have done a lot of amazing things in my life which I felt deserved a thank you, but answering a telephone was not one I would put on that list. It seems this woman had spent the better part of an afternoon calling companies, with little success. Each call forced her to navigate through voice mail hell. After spending several hours this way, she was frustrated because she was no closer to a solution than she had been when she started. She thanked me because she was grateful to finally connect with a find a human being who could answer her questions.
With automated voice mail routing systems, call forwarding, caller ID, text messages and online chat, it’s easy to avoid answering the telephone. It’s easy, but is it smart to make customers and prospects who want to do business with you work so hard to reach you? Push one, push two, push, push, push.
There are productivity experts who are convinced these tools are beneficial. Automating your phone tree allows you to reduce the manpower needed because calls are directed to the right person. Screening your calls allows you be more productive because you eliminate distractions. But there is a down side to this trend. Somewhere along the line, customer service is sacrificed to preserve your productivity.
How you answer a telephone says an a lot about your company. It creates that critical first impression. A warm, friendly greeting can set you apart by convincing the caller you are really glad they called. A crisp and professional greeting will instill confidence that you can solve their problem.
At Roundpeg, we answer calls on the first ring, even if it means leaping over a desk or knocking a cat out of the way. One of the first challenges of a new employee is trying to beat Allison or Rebecca to the phone. The rapid response sometimes startles, but then delights callers who are not expecting a real person. We don’t have voice mail, except after hours. Every member of our team is familiar enough with all our projects to greet customers by name, answer basic questions and take messages when the issue is a bit more complex. Does it interrupt team members when they are working on projects? Yes, but if we didn’t there would be no new projects to work on.
You can decide you are too busy to stop and answer your phone. That is your choice. Just remember, there are companies like Roundpeg, ready to answer every call with the same cheerful greeting. Thanks for calling Roundpeg, how can I help?