November 20, 2018

Inbound Calls Management: Tips to Save Time

calls management tips

Even as millennials spend almost no time on the phone, businesses are still struggling to handle call volume issues. With the help of Siri, Alexa, and other virtual assistants, it’s never been easier to call a company if you have a problem or need to reorder supplies. If you worry about calls management at your company, a few simple tips can save you loads of time.

Here are five things to keep in mind to improve phone services at your company.

1. Start On The Right Foot

From the moment you answer your phone, you can ensure that you’re offering your customers the right information. When you greet them with a well-formatted greeting, you can let them know a lot of information quickly.

When your staff answers a call, they should say “Thanks for calling Smith Tech Corporation. This is Joe. How can I help you?”

While this seems relatively standard, it’s not most people’s instinct when answering the phone. You don’t always know who is on the other end, so many people answer the phone with a “Hello?”, which puts the caller in a defensive position.

The other option is much more inviting and lets the caller know immediately that they’re calling a business. If they don’t have time for chit-chat and don’t want to have to ask if they’ve called the right place, you can save them the time.

2. Prioritize While You Talk

Make quick decisions about what a caller needs as you talk to them. If you’re in the middle of a crisis, you shouldn’t talk to the caller in a rushed manner.

Some callers have simple questions that they need to be answered. Many times, they just want to know if you’re open and for how long. Other times, they need to know if you have a common product that you know you have.

If that’s the case, make the call to prioritize your phone conversation for that short period of time.

If your caller has a more complicated question and wants you to go over the details of products with you, you need to afford time for them. Tell them you’re suddenly swamped but that you plan to call back in x-number of minutes. Get their number and most importantly, don’t forget to call them back.

Set yourself a timer whenever you make a claim like this so that you don’t forget about any of your customers.

3. Humans Over Machines

When you call any kind of company, do you want to talk to a person or to an answering machine? It’s likely the former. When you call a company to ask a question that could be answered in seconds, having to navigate an interactive voice response system is irritating.

Getting a machine when you’re expecting a human being is a frustrating experience. It will turn your customers off quickly and even cause them to seek out another company.

Instead of losing customers, hire a receptionist to cover your phone. If that’s too big of an expense, there are lots of answering services available that can ensure that your phone calls are handled promptly and professionally.

If you balance out the cost of lost business versus how much it costs to have someone answer your calls for you, you’ll find that you’re better off with a human. A machine or IVR system will leave your customers cold and your profits in a slump.

4. Summarize Next Steps

When dealing with customers, there is a lot of information that can be exchanged in just a few minutes. Over the course of your conversation, there will be requests from your customer for you to take some steps. You might have directions for your customers on what to do next.

Unless you want to get a call from them in a day or two asking about what you agreed on, you should summarize what you want to do next. Failure to summarize leads to handling multiple calls and juggling redundant questions again and again.

At the end of the call, take a few seconds to clear up errors or the need for anyone to double-check an agreement. At the end of your conversation, you can tell them what was said and what you’ve agreed on. At the end tell them, “Great, so we’ll meet at your office at 10 AM on Tuesday. There we’ll go through the blueprints.”

If they didn’t know they were expected to bring blueprints, you can make that clear. If they thought it was going to be next Tuesday and not this Tuesday, you can clear up any confusion.

5. Take Notes

Whether you do it digitally or with a pen and pad, take notes about your call with every customer. This way you can ensure that you don’t have to ask them to repeat themselves next time. Also, you can make things simpler once you get off the phone.

If there are next steps for you to take, you need to have a little direction to ensure that you have the information you need. There could be confusing scheduling issues or information swapping that needs to be done. Rather than having to call them back and ask them to repeat information, you can get everything you need the first time.

Keeping notes in a customer database is another good way to ensure that you learn about customers over time. The more information you can keep on each customer, the easier it’ll be to give them great service every time you speak.

Calls Management Requires Systemic Changes

If you want to improve your calls management approach, you need to train your staff properly. Phone etiquette is important as you can gain or lose customers in the snap of a finger over the phone. If you provide great service over the phone, customers will be ready to work with you before you even meet them.

For more tips on putting together an inbound call strategy, check out our latest guide.