Thursday, August 18, 2016

Answer the Phone Like a Pro – 4 Tips From an Answering Service

Funny thing, that telephone. Of course so many of us would love to pretend that it didn’t exist – or at least pretend that it is a text only device. However, as a business, how you answer the phone is still the first impression that you will have with the majority of your customers (and that makes it pretty important!).

Since we are an answering service, we know a thing or two about answering the phone professionally. Our clients trust us to represent them well every time that we answer the call. We know that every call could be that next big deal – or for our medical clients, the emergency that needs quick attention to save a life – so we can never take a call off. Here are 4 tips that will help you to answer the phone like a pro even when you don’t want to.

1. Answer the Phone
This one seems pretty obvious, but it definitely needs mentioning. Many business owners simply can’t be bothered to answer the phone.  We hear this one a lot, “If it’s important, they’ll leave a voicemail.” Guess what? Most of the time they won’t. If your caller does not get a live answer they will generally move on to another company that answers the phone. Shameless Plug – if you are having trouble answering the phone and think that you may be losing business because of it, we’d love to talk to you. Our friendly and professional operators will answer your calls 24/7/365 and you can concentrate on running your business. Give us a call at 888.528.5678 if you’d like to try us out risk free.

2. Identify Yourself When You Answer
You want to let people know 2 things – that they called the right place and who they are talking to. Something like, “Southern California Plumbing, John speaking” is great. You let the customer know that they called the right business and who they are talking to. If your phone is a cell phone that gets both business and personal calls, this is a little bit harder. We generally recommend that you answer with your name in that situation – “Hello, Andrew Jones speaking” so that people know who they are speaking with. And this way, whether it is a business or personal call there will be no confusion.

3. Do Not Answer When You Are In A Meeting
This is a tough one, and of course there are exceptions to it, but it is incredibly rude to answer a call while you are in a meeting. You are telling the person that you are meeting with that they are less important than a phone call. Of course if you are expecting an important call, it is acceptable to warn the person that you are meeting with in advance that an important call may come in and that if it does you will have to take it. Then after the call, apologize and continue on with the meeting. However, if it is not an urgent/important call do not answer it!

4. Don’t Be Funny
Don’t try to be funny with your greeting. Unless you have caller id and you are sure that you know that the caller is a good friend or family, always answer the phone professionally. We have heard too many horror stories of people expecting a call from a spouse or friend, answering the phone in an inappropriate way, only to find that it is their boss or an important client on the other end. Don’t put yourself in that uncomfortable situation. Be professional with every call!

The post Answer the Phone Like a Pro – 4 Tips From an Answering Service appeared first on PCNAnswers.

Friday, July 29, 2016

5 Effective Customer Service Tips Battle Tested in a Call Center

customer service tipsWhen what you do all day is talk on the phone, you get to learn a little something about customer service. I’ve been with PCN for quite some time now and they are amazing at making sure that we are well trained in customer service. They asked me to write up a blog post about the 5 things that I find most helpful in dealing with customers on the phone, so I’ve come up with 5 tips that I think will help anyone that deals with customers on the phone on a daily basis.

1. Don’t Try To Go Too Fast With A Customer
Yes, you have a lot of calls coming through. You probably have a stack of work on your desk too. But if you want to deliver excellent customer service it takes time. You need to make sure that the customer feels heard and you can’t do that if you are already thinking about the next call that you are going to take. Stop, breathe, and focus on the caller. Hear their problem, understand their problem, and then deal with their problem however possible. We find that hearing a customer is better than solving a problem as far as customer satisfaction goes.

2. Close The Conversation Well
This goes hand and hand with number one, but you have to make sure that you have actually dealt with the issue. You want to take the time to ask, “Is there anything else that I can help you with today?” Don’t assume that if you solve one issue that the customer is now happy. There are often multiple things that a customer would like help with, and if you do not give them the chance to voice them, they will often not call back and will leave the interaction quite unsatisfied.

3. Be Unified
This one is huge. It is great as an answering service that we get to talk through common complaints and how to handle them with our clients. That allows us to have all of the information in our script so that no matter what operator a caller talks to, they will get the same answer with a complaint. All companies should have something similar, and it has to be a working document. When a new issue arises, take the time to document how you want it to be handled and make sure that every employee that may deal with customers on the phone has easy access to it. The last thing that you want is for two customers to compare notes and find that they were both told different things. Or for two employees to tell the same customer two different things. Either of these can turn into a customer service nightmare.

4. Answer The Phone Quickly
We find that when we answer the phone quickly customers appreciate it and feel better cared for. At the times when the phone rings a few more times, a customer has already started to become annoyed and it can often last through the whole conversation. So do yourself a favor. Answer the phone quickly with a friendly and professional voice (our trainers tell us to have a smile in our voice and that really seems to work) and you can already start to put out any fires.

5. Have The Right People Answer The Phone
I bet having read that, you pictured an employee (or past employee) that shouldn’t be taking customer service calls taking one. There are some people that should not be tasked with customer service. If you have a very task oriented employee, they are going to struggle to take the time necessary to make a customer feel heard. That is not to say that there is no place for task oriented employees – companies would be lost without them. But you need to make sure that you have the right people plugged into the right places.

Need Help With Your Customer Service?

If you need help delivering excellent customer service or you are looking to lighten the workload on your employees (or yourself) we would love to help. We offer a 7 day risk free trial. Give us a call at 888.528.5678 and we will get you set up!

The post 5 Effective Customer Service Tips Battle Tested in a Call Center appeared first on PCNAnswers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

4 Signs That Your Customer Service Stinks

If you’re a small business owner, you know that customer service is important. You know that it is hard and/or expensive to get a new customer. You know that your business depends on keeping the customers that you have. And you know that the fastest way to lose customers is to offer less than excellent customer service. But you do not know how your customers would rate your customer service. Here are 4 signs that your customer service stinks.

You Don’t Get Many Referrals

Of course there is a lot more that goes into getting referrals than simply offering excellent customer service. However, we find that companies that offer amazing customer service will get a decent amount of referrals automatically – just because their customers are happy and they tell people about it. This is not to say that if you have an established referral program that gets great results means that you have amazing customer service. What find is that if you are not getting referrals from your current or past customers – there must be a reason and it usually has something to do with your service.

You Think That Not Getting Many Complaints Means Something

Nobody wants to get complaints about their service. And if you are not getting many complaints, it can mean that you start to feel pretty good about your service. However, there is a small problem with that thinking. Research finds that no more than 4% of unsatisfied customers will actually complain. Let that sink in for a minute. That means that for every complaint that you get, there are at least 25 other dissatisfied customers that didn’t bother to complain. Still feeling good about your service because you don’t get many complaints? Didn’t think so. A better measure would be a survey of your current and past customers. Or even looking at the times that someone does the opposite of complains – when you get a compliment about your service without asking. If you are getting more compliments than complaints, maybe you are doing something right!

You Want to Handle Customers as Quickly as Possible

This one can be tough. Your staff has only so many hours in the day and it is easier to take calls as quickly as possible. However, excellent customer service is never done as quickly as possible. It works best if you take your time and actually listen to your customers so that you can best answer their questions and solve their issues. But how can you do that? One simple way is to hire an answering service to answer overflow calls (this is one of our favorite things to do for companies – you can read more about our service here – http://www.pcnanswers.com/areas/chicago-answering-service/), to take messages, and to answer simple questions. This will free up your customer service representatives to handle more calls, spending more time with your customers without having to hire additional staff.

You are not Prepared For Complaints

There is nothing that will drive an irritated customer more crazy than having the customer service representative not know how to handle the situation. Of course there will be things that come up that you cannot prepare for, but you have to take time to think about issues that might arise – and then train your staff to deal with them. The better prepared your staff is for each individual situation, the better they are able to handle the customer well. Our operators answer for the Call Boxes on the side of the Freeways (https://www.newswire.com/pcn-introduces-live-telephone-answering/192815). As you can imagine, we get some strange calls with strange requests. We really had to take time to think about what issues could come up and train our staff on how to handle them. It has really made a difference for our operators and for the callers.

Conclusion

You want to offer excellent customer service. All business owners do. But right now, you’re not sure how your customer service stacks up. These were four tips that can help you to measure your customer service and give you areas where you can address and make necessary changes.

The post 4 Signs That Your Customer Service Stinks appeared first on PCNAnswers.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Use An Answering Service To Improve Small Business Customer Service

lead capture servicesCompeting against larger companies with greater pools of resources can be very difficult for smaller companies; small business tips that are time-proven and sound can be of great help for small business owners.

People starting a business or running a smaller one spend a lot of time brushing up on small business help, checking on how other successful companies do things, and even spending money on consultations to maximize efficiency. But sometimes the best small business tips that can be offered are how to capture every opportunity to increase business at the lowest possible cost. One of the best small business tips is to make sure that your business is known as attentive, quality-based, and customer service orientated.

Small Business Tips for Getting and Keeping Customers

For many companies, making the smaller business shine amongst those with more capital means making use of local advertising. Another great way to assure that one’s business prospers is through word of mouth. People who use and recommend a small business help to promote that business – for free! To keep up the good word, owners should listen to small business tips and pay careful attention to public face. This means having qualified and friendly people as customer service personnel.

Small Business Tips Include Use of the Best Phone Operators

When it comes to staff, the best help for small owners is the use of professional telephone operators – particularly after hours or on holidays. Some companies are literally skeleton-staffed or even one-man operations. Particularly with a small business, help is needed answering the phones consistently and professionally. But budgets don’t necessarily allow for a full-time receptionist, much less one for after hours. One of the most important small business tips is to have someone handling the phones at all times, focused on your calls.
Small Business Tips May Lead to Business Success
small business tips

Small business tips, so that you won’t have to wear quite so many hats!

Of all the small business help and advice, one hint that should never be overlooked is that customer satisfaction is particularly important for smaller companies, and a great help for small business owners. Telephone answering services for a small business help keep that business in touch with its clients, providing the best possible service with a lower number of employees.

When a customer calls in, the customer’s information can be pulled up so every call is handled as if the owner were handling it personally. Small business tips emphasize that personal and customized service builds loyalty, which is vital for the relevance of any company. This is exactly what a phone answering service will provide – if you hire the right one. There is no better small business help than making every client feel appreciated and important.

Being available to customers 24 hours a day 7 days a week is a rarity for smaller companies, but it need not be expensive. A phone answering company such as Professional Communications Network will offer help for small owners by being there when the owner cannot. Listening to these important small business tips can inexpensively put one’s business at the forefront ahead of all the others and fresh in the minds of those who count: customers.

The post Use An Answering Service To Improve Small Business Customer Service appeared first on PCNAnswers.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Great Customer Service – 3 Companies That Get It Right (And How You Can Too)

With customer service, it seems that companies either get it, or they don’t. There are lots of stories of companies going out of their way to make sure that a customer is happy. Unfortunately, there are many more stories about companies that completely miss the boat when it comes to their customer service. And why anyone would miss the boat so badly with customer service is beyond me… customers are the lifeblood of any company. Lose a customer and you have to gain another one. Gaining a customer is hard (or expensive) depending on the industry that you are in and your marketing and sales process.

Unfortunately, with social media these days, a company’s bad customer service can become a very public nightmare very quickly. If you are familiar with Amy’s Baking Company you will know exactly what I am talking about. The company went on Gordan Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmare and the owners were so hard to work with that Gordon Ramsey actually left without making any changes. This started what Buzzfeed called “The Most Epic Brand Meltdown on Facebook Ever” (It’s an entertaining read, but there is some strong language from the owners’ Facebook posts, so consider yourselves warned). The whole episode ended with the bakery closing, showing how powerful a customer service fail can be.

But what about good customer service? Of course the train wrecks of bad customer service spread like wildfire through the different social media channels. What can a company do to get their great customer service noticed and shared? We are going to look at three brands that totally get customer service and how they spread their message.

Buffer Has That Personal Touch

Buffer is a big brand that doesn’t act that way. I use Buffer for all of my social media scheduling (and so do a lot of other people), and I made a tutorial video showing how to schedule retweets using Buffer. Just a simple video that I made, posted to my blog, and then tweeted it mentioning Buffer. You can see the post here and a screenshot of the tweet below.

tweet 1
I didn’t think anything of it. I was excited to find a time saver and wanted to share it on my blog. I didn’t think that Buffer would particularly care. I am not even a paying customer – I use their free account. However, I got a tweet from buffer saying that they wanted to send me something and asking me to message them my address. I did and then this happened:
Buffer customer serviceTotally unexpected, but I got a handwritten note from Bonnie at Buffer along with a bunch of sweet stickers. Did it cost them much? No. However they made me feel like a million bucks because of the personal touch. And I have seen other stories of their great service and responsiveness. They are truly a big company that values their customers and it shows!

Key Takeaway – The Personal Touch Can Go a Long Way Towards Making a Customer Feel Valued.

Right Movers Has Figured Out The Referral Game

Full disclosure – Tim, the owner of Right Movers in Tustin, CA is a friend of mine. However, that has made it easier for me to see what he is doing in his business and see the crazy growth that he has had over the last year. When I met him a little bit over a year ago, he had just leased 3 new trucks and was hoping to be able to keep them moving. He had some pretty good reviews on Yelp, and he obviously was passionate about his business, but he just hadn’t been able to grow all that much (to be fair, moving is a pretty competitive industry to get into).

Then, Tim decided to get serious about his referral marketing. He knew that he had to look more professional, so he had his website redesigned, had new business cards made, and new graphics on his trucks. And he started asking customers to leave him a review on Yelp as well as asking for referrals. Suddenly he went from having right about 40 5 star reviews to 97 5 star reviews at time of writing. And when you read his reviews, it’s easy to see why he gets so many referrals. He gets back to people quickly, his guys take their job seriously (and in turn make sure that they take good care of their clients’ stuff), his prices are fair, and he is accommodating in his scheduling.

Another aspect of Right Mover’s growth is an organization called BNI. It is a referral organization, and Tim attributes a good amount of his growth to joining. After a year in BNI, not only are his 3 trucks kept busy, he has had to lease an additional 2 trucks to keep up with demand (and we haven’t even gotten to the busy summer months yet). And all of this growth has come because Right Movers has figured out the referral game – give amazing service, stand behind your work, ask for reviews, and ask for referrals.

Key Takeaway – If you want to get referrals, you better offer an outstanding product/service

Custom Comfort Mattresses

If you have been mattress shopping recently, you are probably surprised that there is a mattress place listed here. But Custom Comfort does things a little bit differently. First of all, they produce a quality product that they stand behind. It’s important to note that no matter how good the service was, I would not have purchased (or referred friends and family to purchase) a Custom Comfort mattress if they did not make an incredibly high quality mattress. My wife and I are not fans of memory foam, and it seemed that every other mattress store only sold memory foam (or their super cheap mattresses that felt like cardboard).

Going into all of the other mattress stores (and we went to a lot) was truly an experience that I would rather forget. Salesmen talking down to us. Salesmen trying to convince us that there must be something wrong with us if we didn’t want memory foam. Salesmen trying to sell us a mattress that we clearly hated the feel of. Mostly, it can all be summed up as salesmen trying to sell a mattress whether the we wanted it or not. My wife was beginning to get a little bit desperate, wondering if we would ever find a mattress that we could stand (we weren’t even looking for a mattress that we loved any more – we just wanted something marginally better than the 16 year old mattress that we had used for our whole marriage).

Thankfully we stumbled upon the Custom Comfort store in Brea, CA. It was a totally different experience. The super helpful salesperson asked us some questions, actually listened to our answers, and then used that info to suggest a bed that she thought we would like. We were expecting to be led to some of the expensive beds (like at every other mattress store) but instead we were led to one of the cheapest options. The saleslady said, “I think you guys will really like this one. Why don’t you guys lie down for 10 minutes or so and relax and see how it feels.” That was her pitch. Mind you, we had our 6 year old and 10 year old boys there with us, so she proceeded to talk to and entertain them while my wife and I relaxed. We did try a few of the other mattresses in the store, but we ended up buying the original one that our saleslady recommended. We got out the door with a mattress, fancy sheets and an awesome pillow for less than half of what we thought we were going to have to pay AND we had an amazing experience in the store.

Key Takeaway – Listen to your customers and point them in the right direction – don’t try to sell them what they don’t want or need.

Conclusion

Amazing customer service doesn’t have to be difficult, it is possible, and it makes an enormous difference in the customer experience. By being personal and adding little touches, Buffer was able to make me feel like I was important to them. By focusing on providing excellent service (in an industry not known for it) Right Movers was able to get a lot more referrals from their customers. And by listening to their customers and giving them what they want/need, Custom Comfort was able to make a fan for life (and get the referrals that come with that).

The post Great Customer Service – 3 Companies That Get It Right (And How You Can Too) appeared first on PCNAnswers.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Powerball jackpot soars to record $675 million


No.1 in Houston SouthRudy's Stop & Shop1018 Damon StreetRosenberg, Texas
Bad news: You didn't win the estimated $500 million Powerball prize on Wednesday night.
Good news: No one else did.

And because of that, the already huge jackpot soared to $675 million, the largest in U.S. history, the Texas Lottery tweeted late Wednesday.

(According to reports, a ticket in Burbank, Calif., matched five out of six numbers. The Los Angeles Times says the winner is taking home $424,000.)

The numbers drawn on Wednesday were 47-2-63-62-11, with Powerball 17. Powerball is played in 44 states, including Texas. It's also in the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Wednesday's jackpot was already ranked as the sixth-largest offered in North America and the biggest since a $564.1 million Powerball prize shared by players from North Carolina, Texas and Puerto Rico last February, the Associated Press says.

Powerball is played in 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million, according to the AP.
So good luck to you on Saturday.

You may want to buy your ticket at some Texas lottery hotspots shown above.

Original Source: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Powerball-jackpot-soars-to-675-million-6742185.php 

Related Story: http://sbynews.blogspot.com/2016/01/lottery-official-no-winner-in-500m.htmlhttp://sbynews.blogspot.com/2016/01/lottery-official-no-winner-in-500m.html

Thursday, August 16, 2012

With 511 Troubled Motorists in Good Hands

Exciting news on the job front. The telephone answering service that I work with, PCN in Riverside, CA, just landed a new account. We will be answering for the 511 program in Orange County. This is a new big account for us, and I am hoping that it leads to more opportunity for me at work as well. You can read all about it by clicking here.

I am a supervisor now, and luckily, this account is under my group of accounts, so I think if we handle this account with excellence, I will have the opportunity to show the bosses that I am good at what I do and that I can handle even more responsibility. We will see, but for now, I am very excited! I'll keep y'all posted, and as always, stay stinky.