Six crimes of modern-day call handling
From slow response times to inconsistent service delivery, Moneypenny reveal the six common mistakes made in call handling to save companies missing out on new business
Six common ‘crimes of modern-day call handling’ are blighting businesses and hampering growth, reputation and profitability, according to Moneypenny, which handles more than 20 million calls a year for 21 million companies worldwide.
Simple mistakes in call handling can have serious financial ramifications for businesses to the tune of thousands of pounds per annum, so here’s where you could be going wrong:
1: Endless rings and slow response times
We typically use the phone to speed up information-gathering and decision making – which is why endless rings and slow response times are a serious gripe for clients and candidates. Data reveals that 69 per cent of callers won’t leave a voicemail, so tardy call answering and unavailable staff will quickly turn into annoyed clients, irritated suppliers, and lost revenue opportunities.
Answer calls swiftly and don’t leave callers waiting on hold or stuck in a loop system. Avoid putting calls through to voicemail if you know someone is away from the office and instead take a message so that they’ve spoken to a person and feel confident their enquiry is valued and logged. Speedy responses can make the difference between won business and happy customers.
2: Disinterested and robotic receptionists
The culture that you’ve spent years perfecting and instilling in your team should shine through in your employees’ telephone manner. It all comes down to personality yet too many businesses’ front-line call-handlers sound painfully scripted, unprofessional or even bored which can be an immediate turn-off for callers.
It may sound silly, but simple things like smiling when answering the phone can make a real difference, it really comes across and makes you more engaging and friendly. Use first names only if it feels appropriate. As they say, ‘people buy from people’ so being personable is memorable and puts callers at ease.
3: Poor organisational knowledge
Most companies understand the importance of investing in regular skills training – but few include telephone answering. Call handlers that don’t know how to put calls through, who’s in the office or when they’ll be back, or even if someone has left, are all common gripes about poor phone etiquette.
Call-handling should be part of the induction process and cover manner as well as the technical side of things. Also, call handlers need to be supported with shared diaries, organisational charts, holiday rotas and up to date employee lists to ensure that they have the information they need to be effective and helpful.
4: Hit and miss service
When it comes to call-handling, consistency is key, yet for many businesses a ‘pool’ approach to answering calls when reception is busy, can mean the quality of service is hit and miss and highly dependent on who answers.
When calls are redirected to other people during busy times it can result in less than professional, curt and ill-informed call handling as people are interrupted from their work. It’s wise to put guidelines in place around company standards and what’s expected, but better still it really pays to have an overflow call handling service to ensure consistent quality customer care when front of house teams are busy.
5: Unreturned calls
Taking messages is one thing, making sure they make it to the recipient is quite another and it can erode goodwill as well as new business opportunities when it doesn’t happen properly.
If you leave a message, you expect it to be returned in a timely manner and rightly so. When calls are cascaded to other departments, message-taking is often compromised – they might be taken but not passed on or just not taken at all. Messages should be captured accurately and passed to employees efficiently. Promptly replying to a well-taken message can be lucrative and could be all it takes to secure a new client.
6: Answering machines and unavailable people
With voicemail proving a turn-off for customers, it’s no surprise that reaching an answering machine as soon as the clock hits 5.31pm is a major source of frustration. Just 10 per cent of all business calls take place outside working hours. By investing in telephone answering support, businesses can rest assured that every enquiry will be captured, whatever time of day. Whether the service is used to deal with overflow calls that front-of-house staff aren’t able to answer, out-of-hours enquiries or the entire telephone function, the possible return on investment is huge.