I remember, years ago, being in a client’s office. The receptionist demonstrated her “power” to put multiple calls on hold. Her panel was lit up with calls on hold.
She probably didn’t realize it, but she was irritating these customers. Some of them probably hung up and didn’t call back.
Being “put on hold” with a long wait time and getting lost in “voice mail hell’ are key irritations for most customers.
How can you avoid these irritations?
For “live calls”, consider just telling the customer, “I’m sorry, I’m jammed up, right now. Would it be OK if I call you right back? If not, when would be a convenient time?” Be sure to get the customer’s name and telephone number and repeat it back. “Thanks so much!”
For voice mail, make it as simple as possible. In my business, I use direct-in-dial numbers to avoid having a receptionist or a menu. Avoid having too many rings before the voice mail greeting begins — I suggest two or three rings, or else your customers will feel they are being neglected.
Your greeting might include some reassurance: “Your call will normally be returned within one business day,” or, “I normally return calls on Tuesday afternoons. Please let me know if there is an emergency or that doesn’t work for you.”
Part of your onboarding process should be to explain how to reach you by phone, email and/or text, when to reasonably expect a response and WHY. For example, “I return calls on Tuesday afternoons so that I can focus on client projects without interruption. I call clients back on a first-come, first-served basis. All clients benefit because they are treated the same. Then you know I won’t prioritize another client over you.”
When customers know what to expect, they are less likely to be irritated or upset.
“You never have a second chance to make a good first impression.”
Would you like help reviewing the call handling procedures for your business? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an initial consultation at no charge or obligation.