Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How Are Your Employees Representing You?

I called a large retail store today. The employee answered the phone, "Hello." That was it. No business name, no friendly phrase, no friendly voice, just hello. Hello isn't too bad, I guess, but I think then it should be, "HELLLLOOO!!!!"

This is not a good way for a business to answer the phone and a little training and a little checking up would change this easily. How would you like your phone answered? Do you have a phrase you would like on each call? How about the tone of voice? Make sure what you want is being done. Call in once in a while and find out that it is being done.

Does it matter? I think it does. What impression of your company would you like the person on the phone to have in their mind? I don't think hello will impress them much. Everything matters. Everything matters.

Here's another phone item. I think it matters to know who you are talking to. It doesn't require the whole name, but a first name is good. Here is a great example I recommend highly: "Good morning, ABC Concrete, this is Sara." I do not recommend adding that crappy line, "may I help you" or "how may I direct your call" and tag lines like that. Nobody talks like that in real life and it sounds like it is from outer space. I like to know the name of the person I am talking to and it encourages me to give my name too. That is a good thing. Everyone likes hearing their name and saying it as well. It makes this less business on a pedestal and more like business I can feel good about.

I especially dislike those long, drawn out selling phrases that some business owners like to insist their phone answerers say. I want to gag. I know the person saying it doesn't mean a word of it. How could they? It's crap! Here's what I mean: "Good morning, it's a wonderful day to buy a car at Johnson Honda, Hyundai, Dodge, Chrysler, Mitsubishi of Wallingford. Please ask about our specials. How may I direct your call?" Gag me, throw me in the back and dump me in the woods. That is sickening. Can you imagine being the receptionist and having to say that 100 times a day? Get a life!

It's time we talk like a business, and at the same time be a person. It's okay to be a person! Be proud you are a person! Be alive! The people on the other end of the phone will be so glad you did. Really. They only want to talk to a real live person.

Speaking of real live people. How about those phone systems that save paying a receptionist? Not a good value in my opinion. Looks good on paper, but in reality, I think they are losing more than they think they are gaining. People do not like them and why should they? I detest them. I am forced to use them, but having a choice, I would avoid them entirely. You've heard it, "Jakes Brakes, home of the heart stopping deal. Please listen carefully as our menu has changed. . ." No! You listen carefully. I want to talk to a human being! A live human being! I'd rather have, "hello."

If a business were to actually have a good receptionist and measure the results of calls over a period of time with the real live person and the salary saving machine, I am confident of a receptionist revival!

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