Customer perception is an important component of our relationship with our customers. Given that 90% plus of our orders at some point involve the phone, how we handle the telephone is essential to creating a perception for our customer that aligns with the company mission of service. The following is a great way of handling the phone.


1. The greeting is: Good Morning/Afternoon this is Joshua with (your company name). How may I help you?


2. Always ask and receive a response from people before you put them on hold: Would you please hold...? Then be sure they are not on hold very long otherwise offer to call them back.


3. Remember to smile on the phone. Slow down and speak plainly and clearly. Smiling stretches your vocal cords, and gives a more upbeat presentation to the customer. Slowing down ensures that the customers perception is of an organized systematic company that can handle their project. Getting it done right and on time consistently.


4. If you transfer a call and know who is calling, tell the name of the caller to your co-worker so they can greet the person by their name.


5. Under no circumstances should any interaction with a client be used to express any sense of overwhelm that you may have. We are swamped, we are so busy, etc. may be acceptable office banter in most companies but it really should not be! If I am a customer and I am looking to get a rush project done, this type of comment tells me that I might want to consider looking elsewhere. Customers do not care how busy we are when they call and ask: How busy are you? What they really care about is can we take care of another project they have for us.


We know from talking to clients that often they feel that they are bothering us or have a concern that they might be overloading us. It is curious to know that sometimes these are our best clients that have this concern. Therefore, anything that might reinforce this is something we want to avoid (you do not need to send your work to other vendors even though you have given us a lot of work already, we can handle it). One possible response to: Are you busy? - is to say: We are busy, but never too busy to help you - what can I do for you? or words to that effect. They are the customers. They do not want to hear about our situation they want to talk about what we can do for them.


6. If we have to contact a customer with bad news of any kind realize that your tone of voice and approach to it set the tone. We do not want to be nonchalant as if it is not big deal. Nor do we want to act like a terrible calamity occurred. Here are keys to contacting customers with bad news:


* Prepare rehearse and organize what you are going to communicate to them and how you are going to communicate it to them.


* Be sure there is no hint of blame or avoiding responsibility. Customers do not care about the folder being broken, the copier jamming or any other things. That is our problem. It is not their problem and they actually do not want to hear about it. Certainly, later in the conversation if they ask what the source of the delay or problem is, you can share that with them, but it should not be something that you want to volunteer early in the conversation.


* Be absolutely certain that you have options to give the customer in these situations. This allows them to be more in control rather than a victim. What are options? What are solutions? Do not call them with the problem unless you are also providing solutions to them.


* Learn what you could have done to prevent this problem from occurring and do so next time. Again, the customer is calling us to take on their problems and to solve their problems. They really do not want (nor do they care) to know about our problems.


7. Remember to always thank the customer. Thank them for calling. Thank them for their business. Thank them for cooperation and understanding. Thank them for a well prepared electronic file. Thank them for a referral. Thank them for the professional manner in which they and their company interact with us.



8. Realize that gossiping and complaining about the customer is only a recipe for tearing down the relationship with them. How could the gossip or complaint be turned into a dialogue with them (rather than your monologue being put on loud speaker to your co-workers) so as to help give them an extraordinary experience? Getting into communication with customers about what we need from them and what are ways that they can improve what they are doing, so that we can do a better job for them, provides them with an extraordinary experience. To be of true service - to be a true partner - to help busy people like them - we need to do more proactive direction of our customers or at least providing them with ideas, options, suggestions and ways that they can improve.

We are really taking on making it easy and effective for them to communicate with their audiences. We need to expand beyond what happens within our own four walls to what is actually happening in their companies. Consistently getting projects completed accurately and on or ahead of schedule is very good. The next level for us is greatness. Greatness offers us the possibility of helping our customers transform how they manage their communications. Complaining and gossiping about customers keeps us from doing that. This is very different than from our heart seeking to improve things for our customer and for ourselves by getting into communication with them, dialogue with them with a rich understanding and deep appreciation of their business and their challenges.


9. Be curious and do not take things for granted with customers. Why are they doing this project? What are they hoping to get from it? Why are they not asking us about this or that service? What changes are they making in their business? How is their business doing? All these things can help deepen our business relationship with the customer.



About the Author:

Pj Germain


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