Customer Experience vs Customer Service
Before we begin, it is important to understand the difference between customer experience and customer service. While the latter is reactive, customer experience is proactive in nature. An example of customer support service is helping a client who is upset with something. An example of customer experience would be rewards programmes or loyalty points, etc. that are provided by businesses. Simply put, the key to running a successful business lies in how a brand treats its customers and the experience it creates for them.
The Secret to Success
One of the most important secrets of successful businesses is the regular communication they maintain with their customers. It is important for any brand to focus part of its efforts towards maintaining their customer base. With time, customers develop a sense of loyalty with any brand and once this is achieved, they may be open to changes implemented by the company. It is therefore imperative to understand the benefits of communicating regularly with customers.
Change Becomes Easier
Customers usually find it easier to accept changes in a company that they trust. And how can trust be built? Through regular communication and by introducing the changes to the customers gradually – rather than making them overnight.
Customers can also Give Ideas
Communication works well both ways. It is good for any brand to understand what the customers want and what their views on the products and services are. This kind of feedback can help the brand in analysing the pattern and modify their offerings accordingly. When a company takes the views and feedback of its customers into consideration, they feel valued and continue to communicate in a constructive way.
Helps Brand Improve Services and Products
When a brand communicates with its customers, it enables them to tailor their services according to the needs of the customers. After all, it is better to develop products that suit customers rather than imposing something on them that they do not want.
Good Reputation Reaches Far
When customers feel valued, they tend to communicate this positive experience to others. Such word of mouth marketing is very important for any brand. After all, a personal recommendation is worth much more than any other form of marketing – plus, it’s free marketing!
Industries that can Benefit from Answering Services
Different kinds of businesses require specific domain knowledge to initiate good customer support. In the case of businesses operating within specific/niche domain, not all answering services are equipped to take calls from customers. However, there are outsourcing partners who can help such companies. During the on-boarding process, it is important to let them know how you communicate with your customers.
Some specialty industries that can benefit from answering services are as follows.
- Professional Services – attorneys, real estate agents, property managers insurance providers
- Service Companies – HVAC, IT, mechanics, electricians, plumbers, contractors
- Healthcare/Medical – medical practices, home care, hospice, veterinarians
How to Evaluate a Good Answering Service
Answering services use an attendant – human or automated – to answer calls, take messages, etc. The calls can either be round the clock or made during specific times of the day. Here is how one can evaluate a good answering service.
A good answering service is one that not only has good operators but also happy ones. Companies that do not train their operators well may also not be ones to worry about their well being. It is not just important for service providers to go through regular processes of on-boarding and training, but also ensure they take good care of them. Happier call takers equals happy callers.
The best answering service has a variety of options in terms of pricing. Services are either billed by the minute or per call. A great answering service understands that no two businesses are alike and will model its pricing plan accordingly. With fluctuating usage, the answering service should also be able to scale up/down accordingly. It is imperative that the billing service is transparent, flexible, and easy to understand.
The best answering service is also one that is available 24×7. They should also be able to offer help or service in another form on the days when calls are not available.
The best answering service will do more than just answer calls. Some other features that it should have include the following.
Outbound Calling The best answering services can also take up outbound calling. In case you are a business with leads, then outbound calling can greatly help chase leads acquire new customers.
Setting up appointmentsFor those who are not able to find the time to schedule appointments (like doctors and lawyers), the answering services can take care of it. A dedicated team of operators can streamline incoming calls and record them in an easy-to-understand format for efficient scheduling.
Emergency On-Call Dispatching There are some businesses that use an answering service to help field urgent calls in the afterhours. The best answering service will be thus able to offer emergency on-call dispatching, at minimal or no extra cost.
Customizable Call Handling It is important for the best answering service to be able to customize your call handling. This is because no two businesses are the same and therefore the service should not be limited. A great answering service will work with you to take in necessary information and leverage their team’s experience to help customize call handling in terms of the scripts, improvisation, quick thinking, call forwarding, etc
App/CRM Integration The best answering service will allow for app integrations. Companies that have an answering service which can help them increase productivity by pushing caller information to CRM is an added plus. There are answering services that allow for integration with a whole list of apps like Salesforce or Zoho.
Bilingual agents An answering service that offers bilingual support will be an added advantage. Invest in a service with this capability for better customer experience and increased satisfaction rates.
Good Reputation The best answering service is also one with a great reputation. Make sure to check reviews online and insist on an impromptu listening session to observe how they treat their customers.
Minimal Hold Times While hold times do creep in, the best answering service is one that ensures that these are kept to a minimum. This is how customer happiness can be ensured. The best answering service will also allow the option of a custom automated greeting to let the callers know they are on the right call and that someone will assist them shortly. This will ensure that the customer stays on the call and does not disconnect.
Last, but not least, a company that is confident of its product or service will let you try it for free. This trial period could be one week or even a month in some cases. This period will help in ironing out any concerns and tailor the solutions accordingly.
Benefits of Having an Answering Service
In the last few years, there has been a shift towards automated systems from the traditional and personal forms of customer service. Be it online banking and grocery shopping or booking a flight, interactions now happen with computers and not people.
Though these are instantaneous processes, there is still something lacking in terms of customer experience. This is more so in cases where they want a one-to-one conversation for which an automated service cannot be a substitute. When it comes to running a business, it can be invaluable to have friendly and helpful people who are just a call away.
The primary concern for any business is profit and many do not hire staff only to answer calls. This is because for someone to keep answering calls, the company would need to offer them a decent pay which is again not a financially viable option. In such cases, outsourcing answering services is an effective and affordable solution. It can be taken up for a specific period and suits the economic needs of businesses. Moreover, they are up and running even on holidays, off-hours and weekends.
Any organized business will recognize the importance of regular phone contact when it comes to maintaining customer loyalty. This is one of the main reasons why they hesitate when it comes to hiring someone else to answer on their behalf. Those who have built their business from the ground up with love and passion might not want to risk an outsider damaging the company’s reputation.
However, with a professional phone call answering service, there will be an option to choose from highly trained individuals who are able to integrate organically into the business. They will be highly efficient and understand how to prioritize information based on their in-depth knowledge and understanding of the business. They would be able to respond to customer queries in an informative manner so much so that the customer feels they are interacting with an employee of the company. Thus, call answering services are a fantastic solution for many businesses.
Bonus: Tips for Better Telephone Etiquette
There are certain phone etiquettes one should be aware of: at home or in the professional environment.
- Identify yourself at the beginning of calls
A) If you are at work, always answer a telephone by saying: “Hello/Good Morning, XX Department, ABCD speaking.”
B) From a cell phone, either simply say Hello, or state your name, Hello, ABCD here. Avoid using words such as “yeah” or “yes.”
C) When you place a call, make sure to state your name and the person you are calling. For instance, “Hello, my name is ABCD from PQR Corporation. May I please speak with Ms WXYZ?”
- Do not sound overanxious but be sensitive to the tone of your voice. Your voice should convey authority and confidence. Avoid leaning back in your chair when you are speaking on the phone.
Tip: Sit up in your chair or stand during the conversation. When at home, use a personal tape recorder to privately record your own conversations. You will then hear how your sound to others.
- Think what you want to say and discuss if there is a need before you place a call.
Tip: Enlist what you want to discuss and the questions you want answered. In other words, anticipate and expect you will be placed into a voicemail system; plan your message to be as direct and specific as possible, asking the person to respond to specific alternatives or questions. Do not say, “Hello, it’s ABCD, call me back.” Make sure to atleast state the subject about which you want the person to call you back.
- Avoid any kind of interruptions during conversations. Do not carry on side conversations with other people around you. The person on the telephone takes precedence over someone who happens to walk in your office or passes by while you are on the phone.
Tip: If you think you need to interrupt the conversation, make sure to say, “Kindly excuse me for a moment I’ll be right back.” And when you return, say, “Thank you for holding.”
- When you leave messages, ensure that the way you speak is clear and slow for the other person to understand. Avoid using broken phrases, slang or idioms. Make sure to leave your return telephone number as part of the message, including the area code . . . and S-L-O-W-L-Y, including REPEATING your telephone number at the end of your message.
Tip: Try practicing how you are going to leave your number, by saying it aloud to yourself as slow as you have heard an informational operator say it.
- Try cultivating the habit of turning off the cell phone ringer when you enter a meeting, for instance. The other areas where your phone should not be ringing loudly include a restaurant, theater, training class, or other place where the purpose of your visit would be interrupted, or others would be disturbed by hearing your cell phone ring.
Tip: In case you are expecting an important call, inform the caller that you might be in a meeting during certain times of the day to avoid any kind of miscommunication. There may also be times when you keep noticing your message indicator. When it illuminates, try to excuse yourself politely if the call is not avoidable. Leave the meeting room, and tell them that you will return the call in some time.
- Ensure that you are always speaking into the telephone receiver with a voice that is even and low. This is more so when you are speaking in a public place. Ensure that you monitor your voice so that it does not become a disturbance for others.
- Make sure to move the phone earpiece slightly away from the ear and listen to yourself speaking. This will help you understand whether you are speaking too loudly or low for the other person to be able to hear you.
- Do not get distracted by any other activity when you are speaking on the phone. This could be anything from the rustling of papers, chewing and eating, the tap of keyboards or even speaking to someone else while on the phone. Most importantly, avoid using a handheld cell phone while driving. Instead, opt for a headset, or a speaker phone when in the car.
- Treat any and every caller with courtesy and respect. Giving them your undivided attention will make them feel valued and enable them to have a conversation with more clarity.
To Great Conversations
In conclusion, making a sale is only half the journey. In order to propel your business to greater heights, a healthy, mindful communication with each of your customers is vital. It’s often the little things like a sprightly conversation, a compliment, helping out in their time of need and going the extra mile that makes good businesses great. And our answering services can help you achieve that greatness. Talk to us to know more.