How to Improve Your Phone Strategy & Be More Professional
Whether your company specializes in police tows, roadside services, private property impound or a combination of these specialties answering the phones is an essential part of the business. While there is no doubt the phones are necessary they can also be frustrating, unpredictable, and a bit overwhelming at times.
Phones are often the first impression your customer has to go off so appearing professional is essential. Having a solid phone strategy can help you stand out from your competition and get more business.
So, what can YOU do to improve your organization's phone strategy? Here are four steps that you can take regardless of your size to enhance your phone strategy—ultimately saving you time and money.
1. Scripting your Phone Calls
During our interviews about half of the companies currently were scripting calls. Most if not all of these companies (regardless of whether they are presently scripting calls) agreed that the practice of scripting calls saves time. Ultimately, if you don’t see the value, you shouldn’t do it, but before deciding against it lets consider these two serious benefits.
Increased ability to scale and grow phone operation with your business.
Decreased time per call. During an interview with Trevor, CEO of Wyatt's Towing (Denver, CO), he said, “you can ask questions in a way that makes people less likely to ramble.” Scripting translates to more efficient calls and your dispatchers spending less time on the phones.
What does this mean for your operation?
Cutting down on the time that your dispatchers take per call will decrease the stress and workload for each dispatcher, allows you to cut down on labor hours, and help you scale.
How do you start scripting calls?
First, listen to your calls. Identify the calls that are taking the least amount of time while staying true to your values and note what phrasing they use. Next, understand the critical information you need to collect from calls in the first thirty seconds and define essential stages of the call (divided by type of caller). Finally, create a script draft. It is super important that you make your script sound human, that your representatives feel comfortable going off script, and that you have multiple people read it aloud. One last note—don’t get overwhelmed. By starting small with a short script for your most frequent calls, you can get a better feel for your process and then you can move on and expand your script when you're ready.
2. Have an Automated Message Play Before Answering
Automated messages save you time (see a theme here?). In one interview Keith Lewis, Owner of ProTow even shared he “cuts about 20% of our calls off by doing an automated auto attendance. So we’re answering only 80% of our calls.” Imagine cutting down 20% of your calls—20% of the time that you need someone handling the phones. You could save so much money and reduce the workload for those you currently employ.
"Create Professional Automated Attendant Scripts" published by The Balance of Small Business (https://www.thebalancesmb.com/professional-automated-attendant-scripts-2533702) is one of my favorite articles discussing this topic. I would highly recommend reading that article if you are serious about creating an automated message or taking your current automated message to a new level. It gives clear “do’s” and “don’ts” that help simplify your efforts and allow you to create a great message fast.
3. Divide Your Calls into Tiers
Labeling and dividing your calls into tiers will allow for greater efficiency, more appropriate customer service responses, and a simple way to prioritize calls.
For a private property operation, this could mean identifying tiers as a customer looking to recover vehicle and property manager. On the other hand, it may make more sense for other operations to create tiers for police or other high-priority customers. By dividing your calls into tiers, you know who the right person for them to talk to is and can give all of your customer's appropriate attention.
4. Record Your Calls
There’s a reason many service lines have pre-recorded lines saying, “this call is recorded for quality assurance.” I know what you’re thinking, “when, how, and why should I record my calls?” All valid questions as time is money. But that’s exactly why you should be recording your calls.
Often, your first interaction with a potential customer is on the phone. What if your dispatcher(s) have a persistent bad habit on the phone that you don’t know about. What if that habit is losing you business? Sure, you could periodically take time to go and hover around the dispatchers, but that may skew the experiment.
On the other hand, recording calls gives you freedom. You can then take 5-15 minutes a day—when it works for your schedule—to review a sample of calls. This will be an asset for you to know where to correct or commend your team. Plus, you have the call ready to review directly with your employee if needed. In essence, recording your calls can serve as an insurance, training program, employee recognition, and marketing tool all in one.
There are many options and price ranges for recording calls. Your phone provider may even have options available to add on to your current plan. The real question isn’t “how can I afford this?” it is how can you not afford it.
Name: This should be the very first thing your employees ask for. Once they know the caller's name, use it. They don’t have to go crazy and start and end every sentence with it but have the employee use it to remember that they are talking with another person. It humanizes the conversation and helps the entire call proceed more smoothly.
Safety: After getting the caller’s name, the dispatcher should confirm the caller’s safety. This does two things 1) shows empathy on your employee’s part and 2) lets your employee take control of the conversation and transition nicely into your fresh revision of the call script.
Smile: Make sure your employees smile while on the phone. It is proven to pass through to the voice and tone of what they are saying to your clients. Learn More
Words: This is a no-brainer, but the words we say, and how we say them have an impact. Some words are inherently negative—these are words that should be removed from your company’s vocabulary. For instance, “unfortunately” is a transition word that’s an automatic trigger indicating bad news is coming. “As it turns out” is a similar transition but doesn’t carry the negative baggage. Learn More
So what are you going to do to refurbish your call strategy? Review your current phone strategy and make a few goals (perhaps one or two of the four outlined above) and then don’t forget the crucial part—execute your goals. A strategy is only as good as your execution! These activities take time and energy but will save you time and money for years to come if you invest in them now. When you complete one of your goals shoot us an email or reach out to us on social media, and we will give your company a shout out. Good luck!