Oh, what’s that in your hand? Your phone? You’re probably reading this on your phone right now; it’s attached to you, it’s your friend, your research tool, and your best resource for all things social media. But, when was the last time you actually made a phone call with it?
If you’re like me, you gaze with dread at the envelope icon on your phone and watch as those notifications climb - so many emails! Throughout my 18-year career at Aires, my motto has always been “Pick up the Phone!” Sometimes it’s “easier” to send an email, but we know that it’s harder to “read” tone than it is over the phone. Here are a few other reasons why picking up the phone will make all the difference when establishing and maintaining relationships with your customers:
- Creating Proper Expectations - A phone call is the easiest and fastest way to build trust with your customer. The call allows you to explain your role, identify the steps that you’ll be completing together, and recognize any concerns. Being able to address these concerns early on leads to comforting decisions and solutions.
- You require an immediate answer - Once you send an email, you’re waiting on your recipient to read, act, and reply. if you make a call instead, you receive instant support and can discuss your needs and action plan. In relocation management, we believe that “Hope Is Not a Strategy.” We have so many proactive processes in place, but we must use efficiencies to confirm that a task has been completed before moving on.
- Follow Up- If you are working on an issue with a customer, it is a good idea to set a time to reconvene - even if you don’t have an answer yet. It is crucial that you call back at the agreed upon time, discuss where are you in the process, and provide another follow up deadline. This creates an atmosphere where your customer feels like a priority.
- You have to deliver bad news - It’s always better to call someone to discuss a problem. Call your customer with a proposed solution in mind and be open to other concerns that may arise. Your customer will appreciate your sense of urgency in making sure they will be well taken care of.
- You’re about to provide good news - I love calling my customers when I have great news for them; I want them to hear the excitement in my voice! We are so passionate about providing our customers with excellent care and it makes a world of difference when someone knows that you have gone above and beyond to make things great for him/her.
- You need collaboration - How often have you received a GEC (Giant Email Chain) that says “Help!” with dozens of emails to scroll through? This burdens the recipient with digging through a long narrative to see what the sender needs help with. If you schedule a quick conference call with the right people, the solutions flow, and you’ve saved a ton of time to actually resolve the issue.
- You need to give negative feedback or respond to criticism - Sometimes, it’s too easy to fire off an email when you’re angry or upset, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. Have you ever had that sinking feeling after you hit “send?” You know you shouldn’t have sent it, you’ve taken something too personally, and now you’re anxiously awaiting a reply. In my experience, every time that I’ve had to coach someone or respond to criticism, it’s always more effective to speak in person or on the phone.
- Bridging the virtual world - We’re so fortunate to have some of our employees working remotely; they help connect us with foreign and domestic locations. We receive such great feedback when we reach out on the phone, including them on discussions and new ideas. In addition, company-wide teleconferences detailing major updates ensure your employees feel connected, even from afar.
- Checking In - Sometimes, the phone calls that don’t have a specific purpose end up being the most important. I love reaching out to my customers to simply check in with them. If something is going awry, it allows me the opportunity to be proactive with a resolution. These quick phone calls convey a message to your customer that you’re thinking about them and strengthens your relationship.
- Establishing a connection - When we pick up the phone and really listen, we hear what is most important to our customer. A few years back, I was conducting an introduction call with one of my customers. I could hear in her voice that she was weary and apprehensive about moving to another country. I asked her what happened in her previous relocation and she listed out several things that hadn’t gone as she planned. I vowed to her that I would take great care with her and exceed her expectations. When I called our moving partner in Chicago, I said “what are we going to do? She despises movers!” And my partner replied with, “we’re going to change her mind.” I can’t explain the rush of energy that I felt when I received that response. I knew that we were going to make a difference in this woman’s life and she was about to have an amazing experience. If I hadn’t picked up the phone, I wouldn’t have been able to collaborate for an awesome outcome.
Over the years, I have learned that establishing a connection over the phone has been instrumental in how I have personally delivered customer service. I have had the pleasure of making friendships with my customers, the families I have relocated, and all of the fantastic partners I’ve been fortunate to work with. I want to be meaningful and helpful in all my interactions and I know that the phone has been the best tool for me.
Here’s a trick I use when I pick up the phone:
P: Practice Patience - Make sure your customer can express him or herself; don’t interrupt.
H: Handle the situation - Be thoughtful in assessing the reason for the call and act appropriately.
O: Open Communication - Let your customer know that you will be open and honest in your approach.
N: No Negativity - No assumptions! Leave your customer feeling appreciated.
E: Empathize- Understand where your customer is coming from.
Here are more tips to practice when speaking on the phone to your customers:
- Smile! People can hear your smile and will feel good about speaking to you.
- Ask the caller if this is still a good time to speak; if he/she is distracted by something, the message will not be received.
- Use your time wisely.
- Consider personality styles when planning your phone calls. Adopt a positive tone. Projecting an enthusiastic, natural, and attentive tone while on the phone can help a customer feel comfortable during a conversation.
- Be friendly, confident and helpful.
- Be informative.
- Do not interrupt.
- Be sincere.
- Use their name.
- Leave the customer satisfied.
- Let them know the next time you will be calling to ensure you are meeting their expectations.
- Use positive statements, instead of asking “Did you notice any damage?” say “Did everything arrive in great condition?”
Here are a few tips on handling difficult phone calls:
- Practice active listening skills; Don't argue with or interrupt the customer.
- Lower your voice and speak in an even tone.
- Establish rapport through empathy “I understand why you are upset.”
- Avoid getting upset or angry.
- Avoid taking it personally, it is the situation that is frustrating them, not you.
- Remember that you're interacting with a human.
- Transfer the call to a manager if necessary.
- Let them know the steps you are taking to rectify the situation.
So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone!