Good first impression. Professionalism. Accurate information. Prompt attention. Efficiency. These are just some of the things that are essential in customer service. As the pace of doing business increases and the opportunities for new clients expand, the people who are the public face of your company must be prepared to be professional and make a good first impression.
This alone will go a long way toward securing current and future business from a potential customer who calls or sends an email inquiry, seeking to purchase your product or service. When a customer is relaxed and at ease with the first person they meet or talk with, the probability of them continuing the relationship with you increases significantly. This is a basic tenet of human interaction.
Of course, this process is far from complete, even with quality interaction between client and staff member. If the person the customer wants to speak with is not immediately available, the next items on the above list come into play. What does the person answering the phone or opening the email inquiry do in this situation, after they have presented themselves, and you, as professional and sincere about working with issues?
They have to give this one potential customer their prompt and undivided attention. The best marketing and sales people in the world will tell you that if you are in the middle of a transaction that is heading toward a successful conclusion, you focus on that, even if there is another issue pending. It is imperative that the receptionist or person handling the call be efficient in collecting all the relevant information, and gather it accurately.
However, there are times when you and your regular staff cannot be available. This situation might arise simply because of the amount of business you are doing on a consistent basis. At this point, you may have to bring in someone to handle overflow calls or take messages and distribute them to the right people. Suppose that one or more essential employees are on holiday or have another valid reason to be away, such as illness. Where do you turn?
Approach the question in this specific way: It’s important to read client reviews. What does that have to do with choosing a company to provide professional, temporary assistance? To find the best call-handling service, temporary assistance to cover holidays, or to establish a virtual receptionist on a long-term basis, go to the website or printed material by a leading firm and read the testimonials. People buy from people, based on emotion first. Only after this initial interaction do customers justify their decisions rationally.
This is why you, the potential customer, should take what current and past clients have said about the product or service you are considering seriously. When you are looking at this important information, you may see words like ‘close partnership’ or ‘priceless.’ This is a good indication that the client providing the testimonial has received service that is more than satisfactory. In many cases, these customers are truly excited about the results.
What Can They Offer?
After you have taken this excellent advice, you should begin to look at the list of services a company offers, to see just what it is their current clients are so happy to talk about. Again, look for some key indicators, such as the fact that this is much more than an answering service. One customer might indicate that business began to grow simply because the service was in place after regular business hours. If customers are able to get accurate information from those who call very early in the day or in the evening, they will be able to follow up and make additional sales.
Suppose that your business has the ‘good’ problem of getting so many inquiries that the regular staff cannot handle them efficiently. Just letting them go without a response means you are missing real potential. A call service or virtual receptionist can be the added help you need when you are starting as a one-person operation, or just do not have the assistance you need as you grow.
One Less Thing
While it is common to stop with essential services that seem directly related to phone and email message handling, there is one more process to think about when you are considering this special assistance. Suppose your business is in the enviable position of having a new product campaign or you happen to be looking for someone with a particular skill. Some of the leading firms in the call/message handling field are also available to help distribute printed material in response to inquiries. They will also help you manage a recruiting process, taking the initial inquiry and making sure that the follow-up procedure is handled properly. This is one less thing you will have to spend time and effort on, and you will know that it is being done properly.
At this point, it may be wise to review what can and should happen when a potential client contacts your business. Assume that you are very busy, and consequently, you and your limited staff are unable to properly receive and follow up on new questions. You know that a current employee would take pride in giving a good first impression and would handle the inquiry in an accurate and professional manner.
What you need is someone outside the current staff to take on these responsibilities and dispatch them efficiently and accurately. So, you go to the website or advertisement of a likely firm and read what others have said about its experience. If the testimonials and reviews are positive, you have some of the best recommendations you can get. This type of feedback may be far more valuable in your decision-making process than any creative marketing the company would offer on its own. Smart businesses use testimonials and customer reviews. That’s why it is so important to give them your attention.