5 Tips for Answering Your Business Phones in Ways That Reward Callers

How to answer your business phone in ways that reward callers.
How to answer your business phone in ways that reward callers.

One of your most important company sales tools is probably pretty close at all times. It’s your phone. It doesn’t matter if you only have one of them and it’s in your pocket right now or if you use a call center with stations for a hundred customer service reps.

Either way, your first few seconds (or your employees’ first few seconds) in response to that ringing or buzzing or vibrating phone will determine whether or not you’ve made a new customer or kept an old one.

Here are five ways to make that first contact opportunity a satisfying one for customers and a potentially profitable one for your company.

1. Answer the Phone!

This sounds pretty basic, doesn’t it? And yet you’d be surprised how many times business phones ring and ring until the caller gets frustrated and hangs up. Their next call is to a competitor.

We once knew of a business that left a phone number with its ads that actually connected to an empty office where no one picked up.

Or how about the automated systems with phone trees so long and complicated and unhelpful that the customer once again hangs up in frustration and calls a competitor? For reference, a phone tree is a set of automated questions that are supposed to direct calls to the proper party (“If you have questions about product XYZ, press 2…”). No one loves having to endlessly press numbers for the best options when no option seems to come that close to meeting their actual needs.

If you must have an automated system, try to get the caller to a human voice as soon as possible. Better yet, a human voice is what your caller hears from the first. Ideally, your rep will pick up on the second or third ring. If the pick-up comes right after the first ring, that can be a little jarring to the caller. It might also look like your employee had nothing better to do. But after that second ring, answer as soon as possible.

2. Think of Every Call as a Sales Call

This is actually a benefit to both parties—caller and respondent. Callers tend to be treated especially well if businesses think they are prospects, so that’s to the caller’s advantage. That strategy can also be beneficial to your customer service rep because treating everyone as a customer just might make them one.

Even complaints are potential sales calls if handled with courtesy, responsiveness, and professionalism at all times.

3. Employ Answer Providers

If your employees’ only responsibility is answering the phone when it rings, that can result in a good deal of caller frustration. If instead, your customer service people are well-trained in all possible situations and are given the power to make off-script decisions when necessary, the call will be handled faster and be judged helpful and productive by the caller.

Your callers should never hear “I don’t know” from your people. Instead: “I’ll get that answer for you. Can I briefly put you on hold?”

And make it brief. If the service rep finds that the answer will take much longer than brief, that should be communicated to the caller along with an offer to take their number and return the call when the rep has more information. Every effort should be made to be as responsive as possible and to hold the caller to a minimum of waiting.

4. Make Phone Sales as Easy as Possible

Sure, your phones will ring with dumb questions and complaints. Even wrong numbers. Sometimes, though, your callers might actually want to buy something. Don’t make it difficult for them to do so.

Your service reps should have the training and the technology in front of them to ask all of the right questions, give all the right answers, and complete the sale as quickly and efficiently as possible. Doing so will increase brand loyalty and get the phones to ring more often with that revenue-boosting request.

5. Give Callers a Memorable Number to Call

Why put a barrier between your customers’ efforts to call your business? That’s what you do if you have a random phone number that has no element of memorability to it.

Imagine your company is running catchy ads on billboards or the sides of city buses. The ads do a great job of attracting attention and encouraging phone calls. But your prospective customers are driving, and in a second or two, the billboard or bus sign is in the past. What was that number again?

If it was a random phone number, it’s soon erased from your customers’ minds if it ever got temporarily lodged there in the first place. But what if the number is 800-FLOWERS, 800-HARDWARE, or 800-GO-FEDEX? They’d definitely remember that for a while!

Those are examples of vanity phone numbers. That’s a number that’s not random. Instead, the numbers or letters (or both) make a message that fits the company’s marketing goals and is memorable for callers.

That’s what we do. At 800.com, we help businesses select and implement vanity phone numbers that your customers can easily remember. Vanity numbers increase brand awareness and acceptance and make phones ring.

Let’s start a productive business relationship with an in-depth discussion of your company’s marketing and promotional strategies and goals. We’ll help you get and install one or more vanity phone numbers that help you hit those goals. Visit 800.com or call us at our highly memorable vanity number (800) 800-4321.