The importance of telephone skills

Telephone skills are a must if you want your business to survive. The way you talk to a customer over the phone determines if they will be coming by to stop in for service or hanging up and spreading the word to their friends of the bad experience they had.


If you go out of your way to help someone with a question or help to determine the right maintenance service for them, you are helping to give your business a good reputation and further business down the road. Treat a customer sharply and you won’t ever hear from them again.


The Survey Says…


According to an informal survey conducted by Tom Smisek on how professional auto repair shops are over the phone, he found some very interesting results:


Tom made some calls. Most of the calls he made continued to ring off the hook with no answers at all. In addition to no answers, he got voicemail messages stating that the mailbox was full and that if he left his name after the beep, Google voice would connect him. After he had stated his name, he got another response stating that the Google recipient was not available.


For some shops, he did call and get a hold of, the calls were always answered with a “Hello” or “Yeah, this is …” or by a person who didn’t know where the person in charge was and left Tom on hold for quite a long time. If the person in charge was not available, a message was taken and was to be handed to the right person. However, Tom had a feeling that the messages were never passed on.


Every Little Bit Helps, Ways to Improve Upon Customer Experience


There are always ways to improve upon your business practices and ensure a better experience for your customer. Here are a few to start:


Always have someone there to answer the phone – if you don’t, you will end up with lost customers and lost sales.

If for some reason someone can’t be there to answer the phone, this may happen if the shop is understaffed or it is a 1-2 man operation, then make sure you have a system in place to alert you when someone is calling (a buzzer that goes off in the garage) or to have the main phone setup to send calls to your cell phone after “x” amount of rings. Be sure that if you absolutely cannot come to the phone that you have a clear Voicemail so people can leave a brief message. Never let voicemails pile up, always check your box during the day and get back to them as soon as possible.


When answering calls always answer professionally. Hello, “name of shop”, you’ve reached “the department” this is “state your name”, how can I help you today?

Don’t just say hello and then nothing else; people want to make sure they have the right number, and the way you answer will state if your shop is professional or not. Simply saying “Hello” (although courteous), doesn’t introduce who you or your business are and saying “Yeah” and then your name, is very unprofessional. It tells the customer that your shop may not be the one to handle their car.


Also if someone calls and asks for a manager, there should be a paging system in place. If the boss or person in charge doesn’t pick up the held call after two minutes, pick up the line and take a message or forward it to their voicemail box, where hopefully your boss calls them back right away. You can also offer your service if it is something you can help with.


Show you’re a good listener. Listen and then repeat what they told you, this shows them that you are giving your attention to them. It also shows that you care, and their problem or situation is important to you. You also want to insert their name whenever possible without overdoing it; this tells them that you are listening, and you are there to help.


Meet their needs. Ask questions to determine their needs and also let them know about what makes your shop a top contender when it comes to car maintenance. What do you offer that sets you apart from other places?


Even though the person is not physically there, you still need to treat them with the most care that you would a person standing right in front of you. First impressions are so important; it determines if you get additional customers or lose out.


Having excellent phone skills is about being 100% committed to the customer. It is about being attentive and truly caring about what the customer needs and finding a solution.


The question is, do you want to be a well-oiled machine when it comes to your business? Or do you want to be the squeaky brake for your business?

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