Conversational - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 2
Conversational offers two services for businesses: Virtual reception and virtual assistance. Over the years we’ve been in business, we’ve heard about a lot of misconceptions about virtual receptionists and what they do. The title ‘virtual receptionist’ can be misleading if you aren’t familiar with the industry. Occasionally, the question “Is virtual receptionist another term for robot?” comes up.
Is virtual receptionist another term for robot?
The answer is no, a virtual receptionist is not another term for robot. In fact, the two are very different. While robots are machines programmed to do the same things over and over, virtual receptionists are human beings trained to be adaptable and help you customize your service as you please. When a company advertises virtual reception services, it’s not the same thing as IVR or automated call answering (robot) services.
Related: 3 Reasons People Hate Automated Phone Systems
Virtual receptionists are real people who work in an office or call center. They take calls for client companies and perform the requested action: Transfer, make an appointment, take a message, or offer additional information. They do so while representing themselves as a regular employee of your business.
Automated phone systems, like Interactive Voice Response (IVR), are the red flags of customer service for callers. IVR systems are not caller-friendly and can be frustrating for those with a simple question or who have to wait through an entire menu of options before hearing the one that applies to them. Many people hang up when they hear an automated menu start. Those are lost leads, and for this reason, most companies are switching back to live customer service.
Related: If a Live Person Isn’t Answering Your Phone, You’re Losing Customers
But hiring your own full-time customer service representatives and receptionists to answer phones, make appointments, take messages, handle complaints, and more gets expensive quickly. Instead, more companies are taking advantage of a solution that allows companies to have a live person represent their business to callers without hiring full-time: Virtual receptionists.
By the way, Conversational offers a 30 day free virtual receptionist trial for new clients. Take advantage of this offer and sign up for your trial today!
Is virtual receptionist another term for robot? Absolutely not. Virtual receptionists are experienced, trained receptionists that take time to get to know your business and engage your callers in a way automated phone systems will never be able to.
For more information about Conversational virtual receptionist features and pricing, check out the resources listed below.
Publish Date: March 31, 2017 5:00 AM
If we told you that how you answer the phone can make or break your business, would you think it’s melodramatic? The fact is, the way you greet callers on the phone - or the way you don’t greet them - can undermine or support your success. It’s entirely up to you.
If you’re finding that more and more often, you don’t have time to pick up the phone or are doing so in a hurry, it might be time to consider hiring someone to cover the phones for you.
How you answer the phone can make or break your business because for many customers, it’s the first point of contact they’ll have directly with your business. Even if they’ve visited your website before calling, the phone call will be the first time they’ll directly communicate with your company.
The impression you make during this time is critical to landing a customer.
How You Answer the Phone Can Make or Break Your Business
Answer the phone as quickly as possible
Picking up the phone before the third ring is the general rule, but if you can answer on the first or second ring, that’s even better! Be ready to pick up the phone and offer a friendly greeting to each and every caller.
Answer the phone when you’re away from the office
How can you answer the phone when you’re not in the office? If you don’t want to be on-call on your cell phone at all hours, you’ll need a virtual receptionist to answer your calls when you can’t come to the phone. You can set up your service to only kick in when you plan to be away from the office, or you can rely on a virtual receptionist to answer all your phone calls whether you’re available or not.
When you don’t answer the phone, what happens?
When you don’t answer, your caller has a few options. None of them help your business. A caller can either leave a voicemail, call the next company on their list, talk negatively about the experience to others, or feel unimportant to your business. When you don’t answer the phone, you lose the opportunity to develop a lead or strengthen a relationship with a current client.
Don’t answer the phone as you would for a personal call
A personal call doesn’t demand much of you - picking up and saying “Hello?” usually does the trick. But for a business call, you need to answer the call professionally by giving some identifying information to the caller. For example, you may wish to state your company name, your name, and a greeting. “Good afternoon, you’ve reached Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam. How may I help you?” Saying hello is not enough and doesn’t appear professional.
Publish Date: March 29, 2017 5:00 AM
Small businesses looking for help managing phone calls and appointment scheduling may be considering using an answering service to handle those tasks for them.
Many business owners who have never used an answering service before have questions about the general uses of an answering service and want to learn about scenarios where an answering service would be needed.
That’s what we’ll share with you in this post: Several scenarios where a small business will need an answering service and what an answering service does.
When does a small business need an answering service?
As a 5-star reviewed answering service with a legion of satisfied clients, we wanted to share some information about the ways a small business can discover whether it might need an answering service like Conversational. First, we’ll talk about the basics of answering services and what they do.
What is an answering service?
An answering service refers to a third party who answers inbound calls on a company or individual’s behalf, takes messages, and delivers messages to the recipient. These are the basic offerings of an answering service, but some answering services provide additional features, like appointment scheduling and management, basic customer service, and custom greetings and promotion advertisement.
Conversational has all these features and more - including a 30 day free trial! Click here to get started.
Why would a company need an answering service?
A business might need an answering service for a variety of reasons, but some reasons we’ve heard from clients are:
- Unpredictable, low, or high call volume
- Lack of business landline
- Unreliable cell reception (if using cell for business calls)
- Vacation time
- Sick days
- Employee time off
- Cost of in-house receptionist too high
- Having someone else answer your phone appears more professional
- Hate talking on the phone
- Want to screen a number of calls
- Work from home and no office space to hire receptionist
- Not enough office space to hire receptionist
As you can see, there are a number of reasons that a company might need an answering service to handle their calls and messages for them. While there are lots of answering services out there that market to small businesses and startups, there’s an important feature many of them are lacking: Customization to business’ needs.
Consistent, branded customer phone interactions
One of the main reasons a small business can benefit from the right answering service is that a good answering service will act and appear as another arm or continuation of your business. With an answering service that allows you to make personalizations to your service, you can ensure your company has consistent, branded customer phone interactions.
Being able to instruct an answering service to use a certain greeting, talk about a current promotion or deal, play specific on-hold music or messages, etc. is so valuable to a small business. It makes an answering service seem more like an in-house receptionist than a company in a remote office.
Always available when you need them
When you select your answering service, you can ensure that they’re always available when you need them. Some answering services let you set your own hours that you’ll need your answering service operating, and some offer pre-designed packages that set regular phone hours for you. Make sure you’re covered when you need it, whether it’s full-time during the day, overnight, just during the holidays or your vacation, etc.
Some answering services are available 24/7, but unless your office needs this type of coverage (say, for urgent calls at a vet’s office), you’ll be paying a high premium for the 24/7 availability and chances are, you’ll never receive a call that far outside of regular business hours, anyway.
Want to try a BBB accredited, 5-star reviewed answering service absolutely free for 30 days?
Click here to find details on our monthly answering service and 30 day free trial!
Publish Date: March 20, 2017 5:00 AM
Not all words are equal. Some words carry more weight than others and deeply effect those who hear them. Some words have the power to turn customer service interactions into pleasant, productive ventures, no matter how divisive or emotional the topic of discussion.
These are customer service power words, and they carry a little extra “oomph” to make your customer interactions more positive and efficient. The words you use in customer service interactions set the tone for the discussions and interactions you’ll have with customers. If you’re using words that are neutral or even negative in tone, you could be offending your customers or simply setting the wrong tone for the conversation.
Why not start every interaction off on the right foot and give yourself a better chance at forging real connections with your customers? Here are 45 customer service power words to start using in your customer interactions. See what a difference they make!
45 Customer Service Power Words
Sprinkle these customer service power words liberally into your customer service interactions. You’ll begin to notice that your interactions become more effective, enjoyable, and productive. Try identifying a similar word you use for each of the customer service power words below and make a conscious decision to begin substituting it this week. It’s worth a try!
There are many more customer service power words listed below. Take a look at the list and take note of any words that could be useful in your future customer service interactions. The words in this list can lend a positive tone to your interactions and can help “spin” your customer service interactions in your favor by creating a better connection with the customer you’re helping.
Publish Date: March 16, 2017 5:00 AM
There are 4 basic types of telephone answering services out there to help support your business. Some of the different types you will find include live telephone answering services, automated answering services, industry-based answering services and general call centers.
Each type of answering service provides different benefits for businesses - and some offer steep consequences. That’s why choosing the right type of answering service is important, and knowing the difference between the different types is essential in starting your search.
Here’s a look at 4 different types of telephone answering services and the scenarios in which they will be useful.
4 Different Types of Telephone Answering Services
Live telephone answering service
The first and most highly rated by consumers are live telephone answering services. These services come in a few different formats. Some provide a staff of at-home workers taking care of your calls, while others employ receptionists in a call center that act as your virtual receptionist from their location. Both of these options provide a professionally trained live person to handle your incoming calls.
Additionally, some live services provide 24/7 service, while others will cover until around 7:00pm. If you don’t need full 24/7 coverage, don’t use a 24/7 provider - you will pay a higher premium for the all-hours availability, even if you’re not using it.
The goal of a live telephone answering service is to make the caller feel as though they reached your actual office. The live person will answer the phone and act as if you have employed them. It’s great for small companies that want to appear larger and anyone who wants to ensure a human being answers their calls, not a machine. Click here to view our live answering service prices and plans.
Call centers are a bit different than a live answering service, but are still one of the types of telephone answering services. This type of service caters more to larger businesses with a very high volume of calls than to smaller businesses. They almost always provide 24/7 service, and may even be able to provide technical or product support.
Using a call center to answer your incoming calls is quite expensive because the staff at a call center is much larger and works around the clock. Some companies will actually use a call center as a part of their business, while others will outsource to a call center.
Automated telephone answering services (IVR)
Not every type of telephone answering service provides a live person to answer the phone. Some are automated, which is quite different than having a live person answering your calls.
Automated answering services provide an automated voice that gives callers options that they can choose with their key pad or yes or no answers. You may need to press 1 to hear directions or hours or a different number to leave a message. This is a much less expensive type of answering service, but it also takes away the personal touch and is known for frustrating callers to the point of hanging up.
For this reason, it is very similar to a recorded voice message or voicemail. Don’t waste your time with an automated answering service - if you’re considering it, save your money and send callers directly to voicemail for the same effect.
Industry-specific answering service
Along with the basic types of answering services, there are some industry-specific answering services out there for niche and popular industries. These services may help with one thing, such as technical support for your website or medical support for a doctor’s office. If you work in an industry (medical, beauty, legal, etc.) that requires an answering service to have a certain specialization, look for an industry-specific answering service like Conversational.
Conversational specializes in call answering and customer service in a number of different industries:
- Medical answering services
- Legal answering services
- Health and beauty answering services
- Real estate answering services
- Marketing firm answering services
- Small business answering services
- And more!
Some of the live answering services will also provide a better choice for small businesses than for larger businesses. These services focus on your business to help you grow faster and easier. The services catering to small businesses can actually help replace the receptionist.
There are several types of telephone answering services out there to help you get the most out of your business. Whether you need an answering service full time or just occasionally, your business can certainly benefit from at last one of these types of telephone answering services.
Publish Date: March 14, 2017 5:00 AM
Ending a call politely should always be your goal, whether it’s a routine call, a long winded caller on the other line or an upset customer who is becoming aggressive.
Ending a call politely is easy enough when it’s a routine call - once the matter is resolved, a simple “Is there anything else I can assist you with today?” and a friendly sign-off are all it takes to end the call politely.
But what about the more difficult scenarios, when the caller doesn’t necessarily want to end the call but is eating up your time for other customers? When the caller is shouting at you and refuses to calm down enough to look for a solution? That’s when ending a call politely becomes a challenge.
This post will help you navigate the uncertain waters of ending a call politely when the caller isn’t quite being polite.
Ending a Call Politely
Don’t wait for a window - create a window
If your caller is particularly long-winded and is eating up your time after being assisted, it’s your job to know how to politely end the call without letting on that you’re not so much hanging up as escaping the conversation.
In this scenario, don’t wait for a window to escape - create a window by carefully choosing your words.
Some ways to escape a long-winded conversation politely:
“Listen to me, rambling on. I get off track when talking about (__), you’ll have to excuse me! Thanks so much for your call, glad we got that resolved. If that’s everything, have a wonderful day!”
“It’s been great getting a chance to chat with you, (name)! If there’s anything else we can help you with, just give us a call. Thank you and enjoy your afternoon!”
“Thank you again for letting us know about that. I just noticed that my call queue is starting to stack up - is there anything else I can help with before I go?”
“You know, I’ve enjoyed talking to you so much that I didn’t realize I’d kept you on the phone for almost 20 minutes! So sorry. It was great chatting with you and I’m happy we found a solution that worked. Have a great day!”
Act according to policy
You should have some sort of policy in place that tells employees what to do when they are met with harassment, aggression, or threats on the phone. Act according to your company’s policy, and if one does not exist, create a temporary policy for yourself.
We recommend ending the exchange immediately if a caller is continuing to threaten you, shout at you, curse, harass, or otherwise intimidate you - after you’ve given the caller one or two verbal warnings.
Don’t hang up the moment a caller raises his or her voice, calls you a name, drops the F-bomb or insults the company. Let the caller know you’re bound to act according to company policy and that you will be forced to hang up if they continue their behavior.
Publish Date: March 8, 2017 5:00 AM
Online businesses make use of many channels for customer support online - social media, website contact forms, email, live chat - but due to the nature of these businesses, many don’t set up a business phone number and instead use cell phones for any business calls that need to be made.
Is this the right move for businesses because they primarily connect with and do business with their customers online? Does an online business need a phone number? That depends. Oracle recently conducted a consumer research study that found “live telephone support is the overwhelming preference for nearly all consumers in North America.” A full 71% of consumers reported they prefer using a business number and 19% said they enjoy Click-to-Call services.
Even if the purchase is being made online, consumers (for the most part) still want to be able to connect with a company via live telephone support. If an online business doesn’t offer that option, it’s failing to accommodate a preference that a majority of North Americans have.
Does an online business need a phone number?
An online business that doesn’t have a dedicated business phone number probably won’t suffer immediate consequences, but it will begin to affect the reputation being built with customers. Companies that operate entirely online may be under increased scrutiny by some consumers, who may take a lack of a business phone number as a sign of illegitimacy.
The phone offers one of the quickest ways to get support - provided that the customer gets to speak with a live representative and not an IVR system - and is still favored by a majority of customers to other channels of support- 71% prefer phone support.
Check out the infographic below which contains some of the statistics we’ve mentioned above.
How can an online business set up a business phone number?
It’s clear that phone support is wanted by customers, but the hard part for many online businesses is figuring out how to set up a business phone number. Many of us don’t have a landline anymore, so the prospect of setting up a phone number for a business that has been running comfortably online up to this point can feel stressful.
Thankfully, there are some options that make it easy to set up a business phone number. One of the best is to work with a full-service call answering service provider who can be a “one-stop shop”: They’ll get your number set up for you and then manage the calls that come in once you’re up and running.
Conversational is a great example of a full-service call answering provider and offers the following when you sign up for a monthly plan:
- A free local business phone number
- Voicemail boxes
- Message taking and delivery via text or email
- Call transferring and routing
- Call screening
- Basic customer service
- Promote specials, deals, etc. to callers
- Manage and schedule appointments
There’s a free 30 day trial for all new clients, so you can give the service a try before deciding if the phone is an important channel for your business. Does an online business need a phone number? We believe they do. See if your customers respond positively when you open up their preferred channel of communication for them! Click below to start your free trial.
Publish Date: March 7, 2017 5:00 AM
Have trouble staying focused on the phone? Many people struggle with wandering thoughts and interrupted train of thought when talking on the phone. Staying focused on the phone has to be a purposeful act - you never end up focusing by accident.
When the content of phone calls is repetitive, or if you’re answering a lot of calls, it’s easy to lose track of conversations and hard to regain focus.
Focus is a deliberate action, and in order to stay focused on the phone, you have to make the decision to dedicate your full attention to the conversation at hand.
How to Stay Focused on the Phone
1. Turn off your internal dialogue
One of the biggest hinderences to remaining focused on the phone are your own thoughts and internal dialogue. By putting your attention on what’s being said instead of letting your thoughts wander, you anchor yourself to the conversation and are better able to understand the caller’s needs.
But it’s not as simple as “turning off” your internal dialogue - you’ll have to train yourself to revert your attention back to the conversation when you begin to notice your mind wandering.
2. Make listening your main priority
While offering assistance and solutions are the basis of any customer service role, having that mindset while listening to a customer can impede your focus. Instead of thinking in terms of solutions or assistance, focus entirely on listening until the customer is finished speaking.
Offering solutions and assistance is only possible when you genuinely understand the problem or question at hand, and listening intently (without interrupting to prematurely offer a solution) is the only way to gain that understanding.
3. Take notes
If all else fails and you can’t seem to concentrate on the phone with active listening and interrupting your internal dialogue, try taking notes throughout the call. Act as though you’ll be tested on the material and listen hard, taking notes along the way.
Not only will this exercise leave you with valuable notes and info after the conversation, but it will also train you to listen more attentively and better focus on the conversation at hand.
What if you lose focus during a conversation?
If you briefly lose focus during a conversation and you don’t know what the caller said last, just politely ask them to repeat their last sentence to regain your place in the conversation. “Sorry, could you repeat that? I couldn’t hear you clearly.”
If you know the last thing the customer said but don’t know the context, you can repeat the last words they spoke as a question to get them to elaborate. “So the shipment arrived 2 days late?”
Publish Date: March 6, 2017 5:00 AM
Comparing CRM providers is much easier when you can look at two competing products side-by-side to accurately judge their merit. That’s what we’re doing with Salesforce vs SugarCRM!
Both Salesforce and SugarCRM have earned positive reputations in the customer relationship management space, but the providers vary enough to make it important to carefully study the features and capabilities of each before deciding on one. Sure, Salesforce is more well-known and commonly used, but is it truly the best CRM provider out there?
Comparing Salesforce vs SugarCRM, which is truly the best CRM software provider?
Salesforce vs SugarCRM
Salesforce vs SugarCRM: FEATURES
|Web activity tracking||YES|
|Personalize web content||YES|
|Bi-directional CRM syncing||YES|
|Create membership sites||YES|
|Bulk social media posting||YES|
|Real-time sales alerts||YES|
|Web activity tracking||YES|
|Personalize web content||YES|
|Bi-directional CRM syncing||YES|
|Create membership sites||NO|
|Bulk social media posting||YES|
|Real-time sales alerts||YES|
The only feature SugarCRM is lacking is the ability to create membership sites. If this capability isn’t important to you, then the features for these products are nearly identical.
Salesforce vs SugarCRM: PRICING
|For 2.5k contacts||Contact sales|
|For 10k contacts||Contact sales|
|For 25k contacts||Contact sales|
|For 100k contacts||Contact sales|
|Full feature pricing||Contact sales|
|Starting price||Contact sales|
|Starting # of users||5 Users|
|Cost per extra user||Yes|
|Refund policy||No refunds|
|For 2.5k contacts||$400 / month|
|For 10k contacts||$400 / month|
|For 25k contacts||Contact sales|
|For 100k contacts||Contact sales|
|Full feature pricing||$1,500 / month|
|Starting price||$400 / month|
|Starting # of users||10 Users|
|Cost per extra user||Yes|
|Refund policy||No refunds|
Salesforce is a bit shy about offering its pricing information upfront - but that’s partially because the company helps create custom plans based on each company’s needs and requirements. Contact their sales team to find out more pricing information.
Salesforce vs SugarCRM: INTEGRATIONS
|Microsoft Dynamics integration|
|# of integrations: 700+|
|Microsoft Dynamics integration|
|# of integrations: 700+|
Salesforce vs SugarCRM: RATINGS
|Overall rating - 4/5 stars|
|Ease of use - 4/5 stars|
|Value for money - 4/5 stars|
|Form templates - 4/5 stars|
|Customer support - 4/5 stars|
|Overall rating - 3.5/5 stars|
|Ease of use - 3.5/5 stars|
|Value for money - 3.5/5 stars|
|Form templates - 3.5/5 stars|
|Customer support - 3.5/5 stars|
Overall Winner: SALESFORCE
Salesforce vs SugarCRM boils down to this: Salesforce is more commonly used, so finding sales staff that is already familiar with the program is much easier with Salesforce than with SugarCRM. While both providers offer similar features and integrations, they are priced a bit differently. However, Salesforce is worth it. The customer support, ease of use, and value for the cost just can’t be beat. It ranks above SugarCRM in every segment. Salesforce is the winner in Salesforce vs. SugarCRM!
Publish Date: March 2, 2017 5:00 AM
It’s happened to most people in customer service - a customer is being rude and for a split second, you forget your goal and resort to responding rudely or making a sarcastic remark. Maybe you accidentally answered the phone in a too-brisk manner.
If you immediately realize the error and are willing to take action to make things right, you can still save the customer service interaction from going south. Here’s how.
How Can You Recover After Being Rude to a Customer?
Before any attempt at smoothing things over can be made, you’ve got to recognize your mistake and voice your apology to the customer as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the end of the conversation to say you’re sorry if you sounded annoyed or frustrated - the best time to apologize is right after it happens.
It’s important to be empathetic in customer service. Some people are more or less sensitive than others, making it tough to predict which behaviors will upset some or be considered rude. Adopt a cautious approach to evaluating your own behavior - don’t make jokes of a sensitive nature with customers.
Don’t make assumptions about someone’s sense of humor. It’s always better to be considered a friendly, professional customer service agent than a funny one and professionality offends much less often than humor.
The customer may accept your apology easily, which would be the best case scenario. Be sure to let them know you appreciate their willingness to overlook the mistake and remain on your absolute best behavior for the call or interaction.
Conversely, the customer may be angry about your actions and refuse to accept your apology. The best action to take in this scenario is to state your understanding and offer to involve a superior, or if you’re the owner and operator, let them know that.
How to Apologize
If you’ve caught yourself being rude to a customer, you can still recover the interaction and offer great service. Everyone makes mistakes, but the most successful people know when to admit it and try to make things right.
Here are a few ways to start off an apology for being rude to a customer:
- You know, I feel like that came off a little rudely, and I wanted to apologize.
- I hope I didn’t sound rude or annoyed, I was looking for that extension and trying to hurry.
- I want to apologize for that. I think it was rude and I’m truly sorry.
Apologizing sincerely to a customer you’ve been rude to will help smooth things over and save the interaction from escalating. By being willing to admit your wrongs, you could be building a loyal customer relationship in the process.
Publish Date: February 22, 2017 5:00 AM
Awkward conversations with customers can be turned around, but it’s not easy. When a difficult subject must be discussed with a customer, there’s always the potential for awkward silences, or worse, conflict. You should follow a predetermined process when having potentially awkward conversations with customers.
What types of awkward conversations can arise between a company and a customer? We share several examples in this blog post as well as some applicable tips for managing awkward conversations with customers.
3 Ways to Manage Awkward Conversations with Customers
The conversation: Customer wants you to honor expired coupon
It’s hard to tell a customer no, especially when they’re friendly. But if a promotion or coupon you’ve advertised in the past is expired, you can’t make regular exceptions. This can be an awkward conversation if you don’t know how to approach it.
Instead of caving and honoring an expired coupon or promotion, be friendly and calm as you stand your ground. The customer understands that expiration dates exist for a reason. Calmly explain that the coupon they’ve mentioned is expired and remind them of the end date of the promotion. Be apologetic but firm.
The conversation: Customer received poor service and is angry
Admitting fault is never easy, and if a customer is calling to give feedback about a negative experience with your company, it’s going to be a little more difficult. This situation can feel awkward for the person answering the call because it’s hard to agree with the customer without throwing the business under the bus, but there’s a trick to doing it.
Listen, above all else, to the customer. Really hear and understand their complaint, and repeat it back to them to ensure you’ve got a full understanding. Be human and respond to the complaints they’ve made - if they say they called 5 times and didn’t get an answer, it’s okay to agree with them that that practice is completely unacceptable and work together to find the right solution.
The conversation: Customer’s payment method didn’t clear
Few things are more awkward than letting someone know their payment method didn’t clear. Whether it’s a POS transaction and a credit card won’t go through or a bounced check, telling a customer that they don’t have the necessary funds to pay for an item or service can be cringe-worthy.
But it doesn’t have to be. Remaining professional, kind, and understanding throughout the discussion will put the customer at ease and make the conversation less painful for both sides. Don’t act judgmental or frustrated that a customers’ payment didn’t clear - it happens to everyone, and sometimes, technical issues are at play. Remember to respect the customer and be discreet if this happens. Don’t announce loudly that their card is declined or make a show of calling an employee to re-stock the items they tried to purchase. Make the interaction as painless as possible to diffuse the awkwardness.
Publish Date: February 21, 2017 5:00 AM
Conflict with callers can’t always be avoided. That’s why learning the proper phone etiquette and conflict resolution techniques can help ease the tension created when conflict with callers does arise. Being prepared with a step-by-step process to diffuse the situation is the only way to successfully approach conflict with callers.
Serious conflict on the phone can result in the loss of a customer, but if you know the right actions to take when it occurs, you can prevent this from happening.
Phone Etiquette 101: Conflict with Callers
Handling conflict with callers is not easy and it can’t be done on the fly. If you try to handle conflict with a caller the same way you’d handle conflict with a friend or spouse, you could end up losing a customer or worsening the situation. The goal when conflict occurs with callers should always be diffusing the situation, not being right or “winning” an argument.
At the first sign of conflict, it’s wise to slip into a calming tone of voice while speaking at a normal volume. Under no circumstances should you raise your voice, even if the caller is shouting at you. Below, we’re including several examples of conflict scenarios customer service representatives might face.
The conflict: Something’s wrong with this product
You aren’t in charge of the product quality at your business (unless you’re also the owner), but you will field the calls from dissatisfied customers who say something is wrong with the product they’ve received. They may be angry when they call because they’ve paid money for something that isn’t working properly.
The conflict: Your company cheated me
Customers who’ve paid for something they haven’t received yet, found that an item wasn’t what it was advertised to be, ended up with a different product than they purchased, or otherwise feel cheated by your company may call customer service with the intention of telling someone off in order to get things “fixed.”
The conflict: There’s no way I owe this much
A particularly expensive bill, a new charge or fee, a change in your pricing, or oversights that result in additional charges can easily cause conflict with a caller. Money is a very personal matter, and when one’s wallet is at stake, things can get ugly fast.
The conflict: I need answers right now
A customer who has been struggling to find answers or solutions so far and has reached the end of their rope can be a source of conflict. When someone calls customer service and they’re already frustrated at a lack of proper or acceptable solutions, they will show that frustration and the exchange can turn into conflict.
How to respond to conflict with callers
Luckily, your actions are not determined by a customer’s actions. You can remain calm, professional, and polite during conflict and difficult situations. If anything, it’s easier to remain calm on the phone with an angry caller than in personal conflict situations because you can continually remind yourself that the person is not upset at you specifically - you’re just the person who happened to pick up the phone.
SEE ALSO: 10 Words and Phrases That Calm Angry Callers
Knowing it isn’t personal isn’t enough to keep the call from derailing, though. Take the following steps to diffuse conflict and get back to finding solutions.
- Stay calm - don’t condescend or act annoyed
- Listen for the real problem amid the conflict
- Show empathy and understanding
- Be proactive in finding solutions
- Remind the caller that the call is being recorded for quality purposes
- If necessary, end the exchange or transfer the caller to a supervisor
Publish Date: February 15, 2017 5:00 AM
Voicemail isn’t the communication catch-all it once was. People are abandoning their voicemail inboxes in their personal lives, with some admitting they haven’t checked their voicemail in a year or more and simply delete the notifications as they come in. When those voicemails are mostly non-urgent calls from friends, telemarketers, and maybe parents, ignoring voicemail entirely becomes easy.
In business, voicemail can serve a much different purpose and leave a lot more on the line. Potential customers and prospects may call to speak to a representative and instead be forced to choose between hanging up with no solution or leaving a message; if the representative doesn’t check the message or get back to the caller in a timely manner, the potential is lost.
Many business owners are deciding to dump voicemail for good to side-step this issue and make sure no leads are untended.
But in order to dump voicemail for good, you have to create a safety net of sorts for your callers to fall into should you be unable to answer the phone. Without voicemail there to “catch” your errant calls, you’ll need someone or something to take the messages your callers want to leave.
There are a few ways you can do this. We’ll talk about each in this post as we outline a simple way to dump voicemail for good.
How do I dump voicemail for good?
Getting rid of voicemail requires you to provide a way for callers to leave messages with their purpose for calling and contact details. If you try to abandon voicemail without providing this, you’ll end up losing more leads than ever. Don’t make that mistake! Here are a few keys to keep in mind before you dump voicemail for good.
Don’t direct your callers to email
It might seem like a natural way to catch the messages you aren’t available to receive, but directing your callers to email is on par with sending them to voicemail. Emails have a 6 hour average response time and only 22% actually get opened. Even fewer are replied to. This makes email a poor choice to direct your callers to when they have a message or question to address to you.
Work with virtual receptionists
Virtual receptionists negate the need for sending callers to voicemail because they are always there to answer the phone when it rings. The right virtual receptionist will be able to answer your phone from a remote location, offer a polite and custom greeting to your callers, provide basic customer service with your business information, schedule or change appointments, and deliver your messages to you via email or text message.
Follow J.P. Morgan and Coca-Cola’s lead
Both J.P. Morgan and Coca-Cola recently gave voicemail the axe. Callers are directed to call the employees’ mobile phone if the person doesn’t pick up the phone in an effort to improve communication and call-backs. “Coke says the savings will be less than $100,000 a year, but that the change will simplify and speed up work,” according to the Wall Street Journal. However, if you think you’ll miss some calls that come through to your mobile as well (or if you’re using your cell for business already), consider hiring a virtual receptionist to make sure those leads don’t unintentionally get lost.
Publish Date: February 15, 2017 5:00 AM
Customer service should have the customer’s best interest at heart, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Some customers routinely avoid calling customer service because they have had bad customer experiences in the past. Plenty of people agree that in general, “customer service stinks,” but it doesn’t have to.
The top customer service complaints can give us a peek into the reasons customers avoid calling customer service. If you want to improve customer satisfaction and retention, it’s imperative that you know these reasons and go out of your way to ensure you’re providing an above-average customer service experience.
3 Reasons Customers Avoid Calling Customer Service
Nancy Friedman, “The Telephone Doctor,” did some research and surveyed customers across several industries to find out what the top customer service complaints are. Put another way, these complaints are the reasons customers avoid calling customer service.
Reason 1: Rude representatives
Rude representatives are a stereotype for a reason. Customer service is a difficult field to work in, and after months or years of handling callers that range from angry and abusive to flirty or talkative can take its toll on even the most qualified customer service representatives, making them auto-pilot to rudeness on the phone or in person.
That’s not okay.
If your representatives are rude to customers, you can bet that many of them will never call back and will stop doing business with you. One of the best ways to avoid rude representatives is ongoing staff training. Stress the importance of a calm, professional, friendly demeanor and make it clear that rudeness won’t be tolerated. Your team is here to serve customers, not snub them.
Reason 2: Repeated transfers
Being transferred repeatedly was the second top customer service complaint. Not only do repeated transfers frustrate customers and make them avoid calling customer service in the first place, but they also result in staff confusion, lost information, and improper solutions.
Each time a customer is transferred, they usually find themselves repeating the same information they told the last representative. After doing this 2 or 3 times, the customer is sufficiently frustrated and ready to hang up. That doesn’t bode well for business or customer retention.
Reason 3: Incompetence
Improper training or hiring unqualified staff results in one of the top reasons customers avoid calling customer service - incompetence (perceived or real). Friedman noted that the most common way customers phrased this frustration was “No one knew what to do.”
Your representatives won’t have the right answers or solutions every time a customer calls, but they should absolutely know who does at your company. Train your staff to never say “I don’t know.” Instead, talk about your departments, who they can go to with questions, who is in charge of handling different tasks, etc.
Make sure your staff know where to look for solutions when they don’t have them. Have them say something like, “I’m not sure at the moment - our customer success manager will definitely have that information, though. Can you hold for 1 minute while I get that information from her?”
Publish Date: February 14, 2017 5:00 AM
You love your customers, but are you good at showing it? The business-customer relationship is one example of when playing hard to get just won’t cut it. You need to show that you love your customers in a clear and non-ambiguous way. Showing your love for customers can easily go into the cheesy/corny zone if you’re not careful. There are plenty of ways to show you love your customers around Valentine’s Day and beyond, and we’ll share some great examples in this list.
Here are 5 ways to show you love your customers!
5 Ways to Show You Love Your Customers
One of the best ways to show you love your customers is by educating them about your industry or business. You can do this by writing informative how-to blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, and even by offering free coaching or consultation sessions.
Educating your customers works in several ways:
- Helps your customers learn something new about your business or industry
- Gives your customers the satisfaction of receiving something of value from you
- Educates your customers on your business, making them more likely to continue to purchase from you
- Brings additional traffic to your website from non-customers who want to learn about your industry
Give the gift of literature
Is there a book that is considered required staff reading at your company? What about a book that changed your life and proved to be valuable for you? A best-seller that you know your customers would enjoy? You can give the gift of literature to your customers to show you love them.
It’s a personal touch that delights customers, especially in the dreary post-holiday days when receiving gifts seems like a faint memory.
Choose a book (one of our favorites: Made to Stick) and send a copy to your customers or a segment of your customers to really wow them and show how much you appreciate them!
Loyal customers should be rewarded. Starting a loyalty or rewards program is one of the best ways to show you love your customers! If they’re going to buy from you on an ongoing basis, why not offer them special incentives to do so? It lets your customers know that you appreciate their loyalty and puts your love for customers into action.
A loyalty program can be as simple or complex as you want. The possibilities are endless when it comes to rewards you can offer - from discounts and free shipping to free stuff.
Talk back on social
If customers mention you on social media and you don’t reply, you’re not sending the message that the feeling is mutual. You want customers to know that you love them back, so don’t be afraid to talk back on social and let them know that love is in the air!
When a customer sends a shout-out on social media, reply as quickly as you can. Be sincere and don’t rely on auto-responders to share your sentiment. It can be as simple as saying, “Thanks for the shoutout! We are so thrilled to have you as a customer - the feeling is mutual!”
Send a sweet treat
Finally, the tried-and-true method of getting to someone’s heart through their stomach is always a win. Send a sweet treat to your customers to keep your business top-of-mind and show your love.
Businesses rarely send items through the mail these days, so you’re sure to stand out when a box of cookies with your sticker attached arrives at your customers’ door!
You love your customers and it’s time to stop being shy and start showing it. Use these ideas to show you love your customers and we think you’ll start getting more customer love in return!
Publish Date: February 10, 2017 5:00 AM