Sales Tips

The Most Important Rule Of Business Phone Etiquette

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Since you’ve probably already guessed from the picture above, I’ll just come right out and say it:

The most important rule of business phone etiquette? Smiling.

But before you stop reading because that’s such a simple answer, let me challenge you with one task: Ask yourself this question... and answer it honestly.

Do I smile on the phone every time I talk to a customer? Do my employees?

The answer is probably no. As fundamental as this is, I’m shocked at how many businesses don’t implement this into their training or really think about it at all.

I wonder, would they make it a priority—would you make it a priority—if you knew that smiles converted into dollars?

Yeah, I thought so, too. Read on.

Smiling = Friendly Tone

Smiling instantly changes the tone of your voice from mundane and straight, to warm and friendly. The physical act of smiling moves your vocal cords in a way that impacts how you sound. Smiling changes your tone so dramatically that classically-trained vocalists are taught not to smile when they sing! (I guess they aren’t going for warm and friendly.)

Listen to this. It's proof that you can hear the difference!

Without Smiling [audio non-smiling-call.mp3]

With Smiling [audio smiling-call.mp3]

Friendly Tone = Emotional Connection

So, why is tone so important? Because the tone you take with customers can literally determine the difference between sale and no sale or good experience and bad experience. Here’s what Judith Filek, President of Impact Communications, has to say about it.

“The tone of your voice either makes or breaks you when you are conducting business over the phone. People can’t see that you are competent and knowledgeable. What they use to assess your credibility on the phone is your tone of voice.”

 

Emotional Connection = Doing Business

Establishing a friendly relationship with customers in general is absolutely critical to business. Did you know that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated (McKinsey)? That’s a huge percentage. This article sums it up really well.

“Studies show that most customers will make a purchase based more on their emotional connection to the product and company, rather than making a decision based solely on logic and even need. When companies are able to relate to their customers on a more personal level, this can often translate to higher sales...There is no doubt that friendlier service can be as good for your bottom line as it is for your customer’s satisfaction.”

And all that can stem back to a simple smile? You’re probably ready to smile til your cheeks fall off right now.

(Skeptical about emotional connection leading to purchasing? There are all kinds of articles out there supporting it. Try reading this one about chickens.)

Doing Business = Customer Loyalty

Let's take this a step further. Doing something as simple as smiling can make your business stand out. And standing out can lead not only to sales, but to something even better—loyal customers.

How many companies can you think of that you would consider to have exemplary and superior customer service? I can think of maybe three. (And that’s out of the hundreds of companies I’ve had interaction with in the past couple of years.)

In the extended version of this Time Magazine article, Brad Tuttle says this.

“Smart businesses should come to realize that the customer service bar is lower, and that today, it’s easier than ever to differentiate your company from the pack with (crazy as it seems) actual quality customer service.”

It’s so true! It doesn’t take much to stand out in a world of mediocrity. Smiling on every phone call could instantly take your business to the next level. Customers notice things like that. And when they start wishing every other company treated them like you do, you've got the secret recipe to loyalty! The best part about that is, you have customers that will do business with you over and over again, and they'll tell their friends about you. A lot of benefits from a very simple thing. Pretty convincing argument that you should smile, huh?

This ancient Chinese proverb sums things up pretty well. (If they got it thousands of years ago, it's about time we get it today!)

"A man without a smiling face must not open a shop."

What has been your experience with smiling (or not smiling) over the phone? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

What Chick-fil-A Can Teach You About Customer Service

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“It would be my pleasure!” We don’t hear phrases like that very often. Do you know anyone that says that? I don’t. Actually, nowadays, you’d probably think someone was being sarcastic with you if they used a phrase like that in regular conversation.

But, Chick-fil-A has claimed “it would be my pleasure” as their customer service mantra. And it works. (Hundreds of thousands of loyal customers would confirm that for you.)

In case you’ve never been to a Chick-fil-A, they’re famous for their unparalleled customer service. They don’t just keep customers happy, they win customers over by going above and beyond... and they’re excited to do it. In fact, being America’s Best Quick-Service Restaurant at Winning and Keeping Customers is one of their primary goals.

The positive experience that they create for their customers is as much about what they do as it is about what they think. Their employees could say “my pleasure” all day long, but if they said it with contempt, customers wouldn’t believe it, and it wouldn’t be effective.

So, what is it that motivates Chick-fil-A employees? And why does what they’re doing work so well?

Here are three inspiring quotes from S. Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A Founder, Chairman & CEO. It's very apparent that he's instilled his great ideas in the entire company from business executives all the way down to drive-thru workers.

So, how does this apply to you? These aren't just things that could change a fast-food restaurant. These customer service secrets can translate to any business. Including yours. (Who wouldn’t want to be famous for their customer service?)

1. “We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed...”

Cathy is referring to the human experience. Even though our world is vastly different than it was 100 years ago, or 1,000 years ago, think about what it is that hasn’t changed. It’s what makes people tick. People have been living, smiling, laughing, loving “feeling” all since the dawn of time. That is the constant. Having a good experience is important to people.

So, what does this mean for your business? Appeal to the human experience. The good thing is, no one knows more about that than you do. How do you want to be treated when you visit or call a business? What would make that experience exceptional for you?

Make your business about people, and your reward will be just that: people. People turn into loyal customers. There’s no better marketing than word of mouth. When people have a great experience, enough of a great experience that they want to tell someone about it, that’s when you know you’re on your way to success.

2. “Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else: our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”

Customer service is about giving, no matter what business you’re in. What if, every time you came in contact with a customer, you asked yourself, How could I make this person’s day? And then did it?

Going the extra mile makes you stand out. Most businesses in our world today deliver only what you expect. Unfortunately, many deliver less than you expect. You could be one of the few that goes above and beyond what's expected!

The last time I went through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru, I had two old fast food cups taking up my only two cup holders. When I pulled up to the window, I realized I had nowhere to put the two new soft drinks they were about to give me. It was really obvious to the girl working the drive-thru window that I was struggling with two old cups in my arms, while trying to pay her and grab the food and new drinks at the same time.

Side Note: If you’ve worked at a fast food restaurant (which I did as a teenager), you know that this happens a lot. Some people will even ask you to throw their trash away for them. I know from experience how much fast food employees hate that (really, they talk about it), so I wasn’t about to ask her to throw away my dirty, old cups.

Imagine my surprise when the Chick-fil-A girl asked, “Would you like me to throw away those cups for you?”

I was floored! “Yes, that would be fantastic!” I said.

And of course she responded with, “My pleasure.”

She was thinking about me. She gave of her resources. She had a trash can, and I didn’t. And that small act made my day. The little things can go further than you might expect.

3. “Being in the food business, you have to remember to do each and every thing right, every time.”

Consistency is more important than you think it is. You can win a customer by doing something right once, but you can’t keep a customer unless you continue to do it right every time they visit.

At Chick-fil-A, I’m treated the same way every time I walk in the door. I never encounter an employee with a bad attitude. I never eat an undercooked chicken sandwich. I always know what to expect there.

This builds trust between you and your customers. When they know what to expect, they're more likely to turn to you in their time of need. When they know what to expect from you, they'll be glad to pay you for it.

What are your thoughts about these customer service insights? What customer service secrets have worked for your business?

How To Get More Qualified Leads By Measuring Your Marketing

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If you're a hungry entrepreneur, you're always learning how to get more qualified leads.

If you can get leads for your business that are responding to a special offer or who have taken a step toward you because of your marketing efforts, you're just steps away from getting a new customer.

So it's critical to measure the leads that your marketing is bringing in, and that the message and offer of that marketing is in sync with your business goals.

Entrepreneur Magazine published a great post examining this very issue in, Why Tracking Marketing Metrics Can Pay Off. The article emphasizes profiling your ideal customer and discovering the media to best target that client by using response measurement and metrics..which just happens to be the primary focus of the TeleCapture service.

...understand that most marketing and advertising campaigns are pure failure. They don't work for a variety of reasons.

So the difference between response-driven marketing and branding-oriented marketing is that you can track, test and measure the first type and adjust it until it is right for your business.

Why is it so important to track, test, and measure? You need to establish baseline performance numbers for your company in your particular category of business and then to try to improve upon them.

Brad Sugars made tons of great points in his post, but these few lines caught my attention. “Most...advertising campaigns are pure failure.” Ouch. That's a big statement, but then he goes on to explain the difference between response-driven marketing and branding-oriented marketing. We can't help you with branding marketing, because it's impossible to measure. However, measuring response-driven marketing is what we live for. When you spend money on advertising, you should do it by the numbers. In other words, you should already know what the lifetime value of a customer is for your business. Then, once you know that, you can decide what kind of response you need based on your budget to actually make money for your company.

Like Brad said, basically, most advertising is a gamble. Smart business owners, though, mitigate their risk by putting measurement tools into action.

How do you measure your marketing?

One very practical way to measure your marketing is to test a small campaign and see how many responses you receive. For instance, you can send a direct mailing out to a small sub-section of your market, and include a custom URL for your website and a unique call tracking number. Then, using Google Analytics for your web results and a phone call tracking service for phone inquiries, you can measure the response you got from that direct mail. If you don't get much response, you'll know that you need to tweak things before going “all out.”

Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket with a huge direct mail campaign that costs $20,000, you can use this test method and only spend a fraction of that while measuring your response. Then, once you've narrowed in your most effective message, it's time to spend the big bucks because you know it will work. You have your numbers nailed down.

Measuring your marketing moves advertising from hopeful thinking to a numbers game. And that's where the profits live: in the numbers.

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Have more ideas for getting qualified leads by measuring your marketing? Let's hear them!