Receptionists are essentially the gatekeepers of businesses today—the phone is still the place where as many as 92% of all business interactions take place. However, 85% of customers report dissatisfaction with their phone experience.
A simple phone call could make or break someone’s decision to choose your business and can ultimately lead to a positive or negative customer service experience. Once you’ve got the right people in place, whether those are in-house or virtual receptionists, you’ll need to give them the tools they need to succeed. One of those is the perfect script for answering calls.
To be most efficient, you’ll want to tailor telephone etiquette scripts to the department for which they’ll be used, setting them up as a sort of outline or general guideline so that every customer gets a similar experience with the same level of professionalism and the same conversation structure.
We want to stress the importance of using scripts as a guide, not just as a memorization tool. Reciting the same prompts can sound inauthentic, which can have a negative impact on the customer or caller.
Instead, it’s important to train employees on a script that helps guide them into the right conversations and questions. This will not only help the call flow for the caller but will also help the employee with critical thinking.
There are several parts to an effective script for answering the phone. While the call flow should be relatively the same for each call, make note that the exact phrasing of each part can be changed to accurately reflect upon the situation. By using scripts as a guide and training your staff to all handle calls in the same manner, you’ll have the ability to dazzle your callers with good customer service, call after call.
While each call script can be tailored to different departments of your company, they should each follow the same general pattern to effectively and accurately help the caller. By having a step-by-step plan in place, your callers and prospective customers will receive the same attention each time, making the customer experience the best it can be.
The introduction is quite possibly the most important part of any script, whether it be for sales, support, or even just everyday general calls. Your greeting should be direct, simple, and positive.
Remember to use polite language and lead into questions easily instead of being abrupt or blunt. Failure to make a personal connection with the caller or prospect could ultimately lead to negative customer service reviews and can even cost you business.
This part of the call is where you let the caller know what your name is and what company you work for. For example, you could have your script start with “Thanks for calling [company]. This is [name]. How can I help you?”
Receptionist tip: Speak with confidence to evoke a sense of trust within your caller from the moment you say hello.
After your brief introduction, you will be able to move forward to the exact details of the call. Most likely, the caller will tell you the reason for their call during the introduction. During this next step, not only can you more accurately understand the details of what the caller needs, but you can also ask the right questions to help decide on a course of action to resolve the issue.
If you are the one making the call to a potential customer, you might want to use probing questions to help make your pitch. For example, you can ask if they are happy with their existing service, or if they have any pain points with a competitor’s product. These questions will help navigate the rest of the call.
Receptionist tip: Don’t be afraid to ask several questions during this step to gain as much information as possible. Likewise, be sure to use active listening skills so that the caller doesn’t need to repeat something they’ve already answered.
Now that you’re aware of what your caller needs, it’s time to resolve their issues. This is where the bulk of the conversation takes place.
For a customer service agent, this part of the call might mean transferring someone to another department, entering information into their case file, or escalating the issue to a supervisor. For a sales representative, that might involve changing the terms of a deal or providing the caller with information about products or services.
Receptionist tip: Refrain from using phrases such as “I don’t know,” which can lead to frustration for the caller. Instead, you can let them know that you can look into the problem to find a solution.
Once the caller’s needs have been satisfied, you can end the call. However, you should never be the one to jump to assume the call is over. Once you’ve resolved the issue or addressed what requires your attention, ask the caller if there is anything else you can assist with.
This part of the telephone script is short and sweet and lets people know they’re appreciated. Callers and prospective clients or customers want to know that you value their input, their business, and whatever else they have to offer. A good resolution and end to a call can do wonders for your business.
Receptionist tip: Remember to close the call professionally, even during a difficult or escalated situation.
Although each department might have its own unique set of scripts for calls, it’s always a good idea to have a basic layout available when creating your scripts for your employees. Remember that the below examples are exactly that — examples. Feel free to edit the below scripts to your company’s and your department’s needs.
A cold call is when a sales representative contacts individuals that have not previously expressed interest in a product or service from your company. While cold calling isn’t overly effective, it is a strategy that telemarketers use to try to sell products to new potential customers and, at a bare minimum, expose non-customers to their brand name.
Remember that only about 2% of all cold calls actually convert, so the goal is to make as many calls as possible to find the few that will convert to a profitable sales lead. Try experimenting with different cold call scripts to find the one that works best for your company’s goals.
Warm calls are similar to cold calls in the sense that they are both outbound calls. Unlike cold calls, however, these are calls to a prospect where there has been some prior contact. Generally, these warm prospects can come from networking events, email lists, newsletters, or social media.
Because of the prior relationship, warm calls tend to convert better than cold calls. Remember, though, that these are not guaranteed, so it’s still important to treat your prospective customer or client with the same respect that you would for someone you cold called.
For many businesses, incoming calls are the majority of their communication with their customer base. These can come from customers for a wide variety of reasons, including starting a claim, asking general questions, and resolving a problem, among other reasons. These call scripts might look a little different from outbound call scripts, but serve the customer just the same.
Oftentimes, especially in a call center environment, there is a need to transfer a caller to a different department. This could be because they were accidentally routed to an incorrect location, weren’t sure who to speak with, or simply need additional assistance. In these cases, it’s perfectly fine to cold transfer a caller; that is, to transfer them without speaking to the next representative first.
There may also be times when a transfer needs to be done, but with more sensitivity than a cold transfer. Warm transfers should occur when the caller has reached out several times without resolution, has been transferred incorrectly multiple times, or has an especially sensitive or escalated issue. By warm transferring a caller, you take the time to relay important information to the next representative before transferring the caller.
While warm transfers can take a little more time with regards to call handling time, it is one of the best ways to showcase your stellar customer service. These should be done when necessary and with extra care to ensure the proper resolution of the caller’s problem.
As seen above, when you need to place a caller on hold for any reason, it’s best to ask the caller for permission first before you do place them on hold. This informs the caller of what you are about to do and sets the expectation on how long you will be away.
Be sure to thank the caller for their patience while on hold once you’ve returned to the call. If for any reason the time on hold is longer than the length of time you initially told the caller, be sure to check in with the caller to inform them that you are still working on the problem, and ask for permission again before placing them back on hold.
You can have a perfectly crafted script and can have everyone in your company follow it, but without knowing how to actually speak to and interact with clients on the phone, it’s almost a wasted effort.
As mentioned above, the way that you speak to your client or prospect is just as, if not more, important as what you are saying. Follow these guidelines below, along with additional phone answering tips, to ensure that each interaction that you have with your customers, both existing and potential, is seamless.
When you’re checking records or waiting for a system to load, you don’t want to leave people hanging with dead air. Use phrases like “just let me check this real quick…” or “bear with me for a moment here…” so that people know you’re still with them, and you’re working on the task at hand.
Did you know that 84% of the message relayed over the phone comes from your tone of voice? You can say whatever you want, but if your mood isn’t relaying a positive vibe, people are going to hear it. The trick here is to smile when you’re on the phone — it will automatically help you convey a more friendly, approachable tone of voice.
There’s no need to go into a full pitch during a warm or cold call. People don’t want to be overwhelmed as soon as they pick up the phone. Plus, you can often say more with less. Take the time to establish a relationship with the prospect first, and deep dive into the pitch as the call progresses.
As soon as someone presents an issue, the first line in your script should be something along the lines of “OK, I’d be happy to assist you with that.” This reassures the caller that their needs will be met in a timely manner, which is important.
Make sure that your callers know how valuable they are to your business when they call. Reassure them that you’re doing everything that you can to deliver a proper solution and that you always work with their best interests in mind.
Do your best to train your customer service representatives to pronounce names and coach them on tips for politely inquiring for assistance. For example, you wouldn’t want to abruptly just blurt out, “And how’s that pronounced?” However, you might be able to ask if they could repeat their name, spell it for you, and so forth. Often, mispronouncing or misspelling someone’s name can come across as more disrespectful than you realize and can truly impact your customer service reputation.
The final step is to put it all together and start putting your telephone etiquette scripts to work. Phone calls don’t have to be a challenge if you do a little planning. Make sure that you’ve got separate scripts and processes for your sales and support teams, and that each one caters to the type of callers that you see most often.
One other way to win customers over with your communications is to outsource to a third party like Smith.ai. You don’t have to spend hours on the phone or endless evenings returning calls anymore. Leave the work to us and improve your communications in several ways.
We can assist with more than calls, too. Ask about our solutions for live website chat, Facebook and SMS message answering, scheduling and lead intake, and even payment collection, and so much more. We’ll integrate with your CRM, help you craft the perfect strategy to manage it all, and ensure that your callers always get the dedicated attention and speedy resolution that they deserve.
To learn more, schedule a consultation to find out what the 24/7 virtual receptionists from Smith.ai can do for your phone calls and other communications. You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources: Salesforce, Selling Signals
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