Why Outsourced Phone Support is a Must For Your Business
The old saying is true: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
How quickly do you gauge someone’s personality or character? In all likelihood, you’re already forming your impression when they start talking, if not before.
You can’t help it! As social beings, it’s only natural that we quickly assess and characterize people based on first impressions.
A business is no different. When customers reach out to a company by phone, they expect certain things, chief among them confidence that they’ll have their questions or concerns addressed promptly and professionally.
This phone call can make or break a first impression. That’s why it’s so important for you to nail down phone etiquette and customer service.
Which begs the question: who is answering your phone?
How you answer your phone might be the one chance you get to make to nail that first impression. Whatever you do, don’t rely on automated phone services for good customer service. You need a human voice on your end of the line to ensure customers stay satisfied.
It’s a tall order, but thankfully, outsourced phone support can help, especially if your staff are more used to solving technical issues than they are dealing with a customer.
Remember, good customer service starts with good phone etiquette and communication. Here’s how it works:
3 Steps to Better Phone Etiquette
Like all things in life, customer service is a skill. Some people have a knack for it, but you’re not born knowing how to pick up the phone and greet people. Never felt comfortable on the phone? We’ve got you covered.
1 – Be Prompt
There’s nothing worse than waiting and waiting and waiting for someone to pick up the phone. If you’ve got a phone number customers can reach you at, don’t let it ring off the hook.
As a rule of thumb, do not let your phone ring more than 4 times before picking it up. The delay can leave customers feeling unsettled or uncomfortable, and in a worst-case scenario, they’ll just hang up and go elsewhere.
At the same time, though, picking up before a ring can even finish can startle some callers gathering their thoughts. Don’t jump the gun! Settle into the appropriate middle ground, between 2 and 3 rings.
2 – Greetings Matter
Good phone support always starts with a friendly and respectful greeting. “Hi, my name is Jane, how may I help you?” “Hello, Best Company Ever Inc., how can I help you?” and even “Good morning/afternoon/evening, how may I help you?” are all fantastic greetings.
Remember, you’re trying to put customers at ease and show them you’re here to help. Tone goes a long way. A friendly, warm greeting is the best place to start!
Better still, people can hear your enthusiasm! Sometimes you can hear the smile in someone’s voice, and that alone can be contagious.
3 – Communicate Clearly
Once you’ve picked up the phone and greeted your caller, communication is key. If you haven’t already asked how you can help your customer, do so immediately.
Typically, taking notes on the fly can be a challenge for most phone operators, even with a hands-free headset. If you do plan on recording calls, you must get the customer’s consent.
But, above all else, enunciate and speak clearly. Don’t rush through sentences, but don’t plod along, either. Speak clearly at a comfortable volume and keep your tone open and friendly.
The substance of what you say is just as important as how you say it, so be ready to handle requests and take action immediately or connect your customer to someone who can help them if it’s out of your scope.
How Should Businesses Handle Phone Calls?
We’ve discussed how to handle individual calls, but what about an overall strategy? That’s where outsourced phone support comes in handy.
Phone support can provide a level of organization and infrastructure that keeps customers in your system until their issue is sorted, and makes it easy to connect customers with departments or individuals on an as-needed basis.
Earlier, we mentioned not using an automated system. These systems do have a place as part of an overall support system, as they allow you to funnel customers to the people they need to speak to. The fact of the matter is you should always have a human voice on the other end of the line, ready to pick up when a customer gets the extension they’re looking for.
Likewise, don’t put people on hold. If a caller has a question, they will feel less confident in your answer if you place them on hold for 3 minutes. The only time a person should be put on hold is to transfer the call.
If you find you can’t connect customers immediately, dedicated phone support is an absolute must. They can take messages, answer questions, and always help maintain your company’s professionalism. Remember, a phone call is the first domino in business retention.
What Qualities Do Phone Support Staff Members Need?
Be friendly. Nobody likes a grump. Plus, friendliness can compensate for any ancillary difficulties you might be experiencing.
Don’t rush things. We are all busy people but being noticeably rushed can make callers feel anxious or annoyed. Treat every caller like they are the only person in the world and you will find they will gravitate towards your business.
Be knowledgeable. Competence is everything, and even new personnel should be able to navigate inquiries and requests with ease.
Is Outsourcing Phone Support and Customer Service A Good Move?
In short, absolutely!
Outsourcing is cost-effective. Your overhead will shrink significantly, all while not impacting your quality of service.
What’s more, an outsourced customer service strategy can be operating 24/7, making customers feel more secure if they have a business emergency that only you can solve.
It also offers multi-departmental support. Sometimes you need to get an update on the Christmas party, sometimes you need technical services. Customizing your customer service so that it becomes department-specific means a more robust way of doing business.
Finally, it's flexible. Sometimes business is slow, sometimes you can barely keep up with the growth. Having an outsourced customer service system in place can help you roll with the punches a lot easier.
Some business owners are afraid to outsource. They assume the company culture will be negatively impacted. But most of the time the opposite is true. Often, employees take a higher level of ownership over their day-to-day duties when they know some facets are handled outside the company’s four walls.
Outsourcing your customer service helps streamline your company’s communications with customers and suppliers, giving you a strategic edge and a better understanding of how to handle company growth.
We all want to make sure customers like us. It is the first step to a long, profitable business relationship. By prioritizing your customer service as a main pillar of overall success, and through managing staff in a way that fosters respect for their professionalism, your business can enjoy the benefits for years to come.