When a Customer Calls

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 10, 2007

Many small-business owners are well aware of the importance of greeting customers as they walk in the front door of their business. The traditional pleasantries—"Good morning," "How are you today?" and "Thank you for coming"—are all critical to building long-term renewal customers.

When it comes to the phone, business owners need to be sure that whoever is answering the calls is sufficiently skilled at offering the same initial pleasantries. But phone skills go much deeper than "please" and "thank you." It is maddening for customers to call a local company and speak with someone who knows little about the business and can only offer to relay a message to someone who knows something.

It’s not that everyone answering the phone should know a business’ full product list or service offerings. Rather, anyone answering phones should be able to explain the business’ "USP," or unique selling proposition. If your business provides a service, then make sure everyone knows what distinguishes your business from your competitors and can explain it in a succinct and crisp fashion.

Neal Polachek
Senior Vice-President, Research and Consulting
The Kelsey Group
Princeton, N.J.

Reader Comments

Peter Kusterer

January 11, 2007 8:50 AM

All good points. And, one I would like to add is, train people who take calls from prospective customers (or meet/greet in person) to ask, "How did you hear about us?" This does not require an advanced CRM system, or complex spreadsheet for tracking; it can be a simple scorecard with pre-defined categories. Learning about how people become aware of your company/business can help you better direct your marketing efforts and investment.

On the flip side, a 'closing phrase' should be, "Did I answer all of your questions to your satisfaction? Is there anything else I might help you with today?"

Both will work for a business of any size or vertical market.

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