Have you ever tried calling a local business and just gotten a â€œhelloâ€ on the other end? I have, and it was nothing short of an annoying experience. In that moment, I started wondering if I called the right place... so then I had to say, â€œIs this Leeâ€™s Tree Service?â€ And the man (who I assumed was Lee) said, â€œYeah.â€ And it was just aÂ reallyÂ awkward start to the phone call.
The funny thing is, it was awkward for me, but I’m almost positive (no, I am positive) that it wasn’t awkward at all to Lee, because he’s used to it. His business phone is his cell phone, so he’s used to saying “hello” because he doesn’t know whether the incoming call is personal or business-related.
So, what can we take away from this story? That the phone call left me (the potential customer) feeling awkward and confused. (Also like Lee’s Tree Service was run out of the shed in Lee’s backyard.) And at that moment, since our start wasn’t very professional, I immediately started wondering if this is who I wanted to do business with.
So, here we see that getting off to a good start with your customers is crucial to getting new business.
The good news is that this is a simple problem that can be solved in 3 seconds or less, every time you answer the phone.
#1: Use your cell phone as your business phone... but, do it the right way.
Do you use your cell phone as your business phone? If you do, then:
purchase a new phone number to use as your business phone number,
forward that new business number to your cell phone, and then,
use a whisper service to differentiate your business calls from your personal calls.
A whisper service just gives you a quick heads up right when you answer the phone whether or not it’s a business call. That way, you can be prepared to answer your business phone calls the right way. (The setup may sound like a lot of work, but it’s actually not at all. In fact, TeleCapture offers this service. You can set up a new phone number in less than 60 seconds, and quickly be on your way to phone-answering-greatness.)
#2: Come up with a welcome sentence to use every time you answer your business calls.
Answering a business phone call should be like welcoming someone into your home. So figure out in advance what you’re going to say when they walk in. Here are three guidelines.
Let them know where they are. You have to state your business name. Your customers can’t see a sign on the door when they call you to make sure they’re in the right place. All they can hope is that they dialed the right number. They’ll want to feel like they’ve called the right place before they ask their question, so take care of that part for them so they don’t have to wonder.
Give them a warm greeting. This is simple. Include something nice! Maybe it’s “good morning/afternoon” or “thanks for calling.” Anything to make them feel welcome.
Let them know you’re there to help. Being hospitable means letting your guests know that you’re there to help. So, your welcome statement needs to include a phrase that makes your customers feel like you’re there just for them!
So, in the end, your statement should look something like these examples...
“Thanks for calling Lee’s Tree Service. How can I help you?”
Or, “Good morning! It’s a wonderful day at Lee’s Tree Service. What can I do for you today?”
Be creative. It’s your phrase. Own it!
#3: Be pleasant about it.
There’s one good way to kill all your work from steps #1 and #2... and that’s to be a grump about it all. You can state your business name, and have a nice little scripted sentence, but if you say it like you’d rather not be saying it, then you might as well not be saying it at all.
This article goes into some more details about pleasantries and how to talk with your customers during phone calls.
Unfortunately, I can’t illustrate this through writing alone, so you’ll have to help. Try saying this sentence out loud with boredom, annoyance and the least amount of voice inflection possible.
“Good morning. Thanks for calling Lee’s Tree Service. How can I help you.” (I used periods only for boredom-emphasis.)
It doesn’t mean much when it’s said that way, does it? Now trying saying the same phrase with a smile on your face. Like you mean it.
“Good morning! Thanks for calling Lee’s Tree Service. How can I help you?”
You’ve got it! That’s what your customers want to hear. And it’s the perfect way to introduce your business.