“Somebody just called me from this number…” What comes to mind when you hear this statement?

When have you used this sentence in your own life?

When I receive a phone call on my cell phone from a number that I don’t recognize, I’ll usually just let it go to my answering machine. If I’m feeling generous, or if I’m expecting a call from someone, I’ll call back and say, “Somebody just called me from this number…”

This usually leads to some level of confusion or frustration, or both, on the part of both the individual answering the phone and myself.

Therein lies the problem for your inside sales representatives or your customer service representatives. If your team is making outbound calls without making a note in your system, then you are missing the boat on a lot of great sales opportunities.

Notes in your system

Imagine the surprise of a customer that calls back after receiving a phone call from your company. Their call is answered in an upbeat tone of voice, with your call center rep asking how they can help them today. The customer responds, “Somebody just called me from this number…” Your team can then answer with, “Why, yes we did, Mr. Jones. We were calling to find out when you’d like to get your heating check done for the upcoming fall season. Would this Tuesday or Thursday work better for you?”

Imagine how much better that smooth transition and handling of the call feels to a customer, rather than the stereotypical version of this scenario, that goes something like this:

“Somebody just called me from this number…”

“Are you sure? I’m the only one working the phones today, and I don’t recognize the number. Maybe Tracy in accounting called you. Can you hang on for a second while I check with her?”

You can predict where that call will lead, right? It will probably lead to your number being blocked by the customer, resulting in a lost sale.

You can accomplish the first type of call by simply noting the call attempt in your software. You should also consider letting your CSRs know that you will be making outbound calls, and that they shouldn’t be surprised when a customer calls back in.

Leaving a message isn’t good enough

You might say, “My company leaves a message with a direct phone number to call back.” The fact is, that just isn’t good enough in a world where the “I need it now” mentality now reigns supreme. Spending the time to listen to a voicemail and write down the information isn’t common and is a frustrating exercise for many people. They just want to be able to press a button and return a call, without the hassle of checking their voicemail, entering a passcode, pressing 1 for new messages, pressing 7 to delete messages, and then having to remember what was said because they didn’t have a pen and paper to write it down.

I would suggest that leaving a message is part of your process, but only after you have made sure to note the account and recognize the tendency of your customers to simply return a call, rather than go through the trouble of checking their messages.

So, what now?

What are you supposed to take from this article, you might ask?

The single most important thing to consider is that of your processes. Think about how a customer feels when returning a call to your office, and the experience that they receive when doing so. Are they made to feel important? Are they greeted with a professional answer that transitions immediately into an answer to their question?

Or, are they faced with having to work to spend their money with your business? If the roles were reversed, how likely would you be to spend money with someone when it’s difficult to do so?

It’s time to take an objective look at how your call center is handling their outbound calls. Look for ways to make the process easier for your customers in a world that is placing more and more emphasis on the “convenience factor” when doing business.

Publication date: 5/28/2018

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