I came in to work this week to find my general manager had installed a new phone system for the store. Well, if you’re like me, it’s always exciting to get new gadgets and these phones were no exception. They have all sorts of buttons and even a miniature TV screen. When I saw them I was sure they would make our communications better. Then after listening to everyone using them it became apparent nothing had changed except the device we were using.
As I have mentioned before we have company meetings twice a week and large part of our focus is on phone training. Specifically, we review calls from customers (Yes, when that recording tells you your call may be used for training, sometimes it really is!) and discuss ways to improve our customer interactions. During a recent review, it was brought up that I talk way too fast and that makes it sound like I am busy and might make the customer feel like they are unimportant. I believe the comment was made that it sounds like the call was a bother not an opportunity. Well, I have to agree I do talk fast but I do not view my customers as bother so I am making attempts to slow down my conversation. It became apparent the way we answer the phone does affect our customer’s perception of us and this is an area we can improve.
So let’s look at the basics of usage: First, before you pick up the phone, stop whatever else you are working on; multi-tasking is not a good thing when talking on the phone. Second, smile (It shows in your voice!), greet the customer, identify yourself and your department so the customer knows who they are talking to. It is a good idea to write the customer’s name down in front of you so you don’t forget! If it’s a new customer politely take control of the conversation, obtain the information you need such as make, model and issue the customer is having. Ask for a phone number. If your call is interrupted, you will be able to call the customer back.
Then explain the best way your department can help the customer: Address his or her concerns and ask for the customer’s business. Schedule an appointment and give directions to your location. Don’t forget to schedule the appointment on your calendar so if they don’t show you can call them back and make sure everything is okay. If you have to place a customer on hold, tell them what you are doing for them and ask if it is ok to place them on hold. If you need more than one minute to get the information, ask if you can call them back and tell them how long it will be before you will return the call. Remember: “Under-promise and over deliver” will go a long way on keeping your customer happy. When you are done, review your notes with the customer and verify their call back number. Let them know you will give a courtesy reminder the day before their appointment. Staying focused from the beginning of each call will help ensure each customer is getting the best service the employee can provide. Remembering the customer’s name (write it down!), having a pleasant, calm yet firm demeanor and a true willingness to facilitate the customer’s transactions, will improve your company on many levels.
So whether you have the latest cool tech gadgets, or a couple of tin cans and some twine, either will suit you just fine if the basics of excellent customer service aren’t consistently applied and followed. Training and improving is an on-going process that never ends. Combining the best gadgets and the best customer service is a win-win for everyone.
Happy Veteran’s Day!
Jackson Smith is the parts and service manager at Destination Powersports, a multi-line OEM dealership located in southwest Florida. Jackson has more than 30 years experience in both the automotive and powersports industries.