Tom Merriott
Tom Merriott

A reoccurring theme in my job is talking with managers and owners about how to get a handle on the call center. By the way, this doesn’t mean you need a dedicated team of personnel only taking calls to qualify. If you have someone who answers the inbound calls for your company, you have a call center. That call center is the customer service voice of your company’s brand. So, the very first step to improve the call center in your business is to pay attention.

You should know how your company sounds to customers 24 hours a day. This means:

• If you turn your phones over to an answering service after hours, you need to call and check on them.

• If your people take the phones on the weekends then you need to have someone periodically call in to book a call.

• If your phone rings to everyone in the company after the main lines are busy, it is up to you to make sure they are all qualified to give great customer service. Anyone who is not should be taken off the phone tree immediately.

Another area of struggle for most contractors is making the voice of their company a priority. This one is easy. Take a look at the money you spend on advertising. Not just the ads themselves, but everything, including uniforms, truck wraps, yard signs, equipment stickers, etc. Write down the total amount. Beneath that figure, put the words “Make The Phone Ring,” because that is the purpose of every dollar you spend. I want you to dwell on that for a minute. All of the money you spend on advertising is designed to make customers call you, so why are you paying so little attention to what happens when they do?

Before you get upset and stop reading this, I’m not asking you to become an expert. You simply need to apply some common sense. Is your team treating your customers as you would want to be treated? Now think about a great customer service interaction that you’ve had with someone else.

• What made the experience special?

• Why do you remember that call or interaction?

• How many people have you told about your experience?

• Did you do anything to replicate your personal experience in your shop?

Constant evaluation and improvement is the only way your call center will improve, and you, as a leader, need to drive the momentum. We tend to pay the most attention to the technicians in the field who bring in the money. But if those techs don’t have any calls to run, that is a losing strategy.

I’m being serious here, and most of you, if you’re honest, already know that as an industry we don’t pay the proper amount of respect to the skill of answering our customers’ calls. This needs to change if we want to thrive. The most successful companies in any market make customer service a top priority. Do you really know about your company’s voice and are you doing anything to improve it?