And so the week of the full moon comes to a quiet end as the house of crazy shutters its windows – until the next one. We all have busy weeks and busy seasons. It’s easy to cut corners when you’re trying to get things done.
One of my greatest pet peeves while working the phone? Call handling. It seems this is first place the beleaguered professional cuts. Think about it, you call and you’re talking and suddenly no one is there and there is no music – and you’re still talking. Hello?
Or, worse, you get someone who is really friendly and after hearing the issue, they put you on hold to ask. Next thing you know you’re talking to a totally different person, a sales person, who doesn’t seem to understand why you called.
THE WAY IT SHOULD BE – EVERYTIME
Being a professional requires superb product knowledge and professional mannerisms. That includes telephone conduct. I have worked in an agency and a call center. Here are some tips I find effective for call handling:
- Ask before you put someone on hold – every time. When you come back, don’t plow into the call, thank them for holding first. Then, move forward.
- When we’re talking hold time, explain what’s going to happen before that time, set an expectation. Take a step back, if it would be too long for you, offer a callback.
- Soft transfer calls by conferencing the next party into the line and introducing them to the caller.
- Address people by name, be respectful, and give them your name and extension.
- If, after taking a message, you find out that person is out of the office or unavailable for a while, call the person back and tell them. Let them decide how they want to proceed. Or have someone else who can assist call them back.
- Take your time, be patient, and show compassion.
FORGET THE SCRIPT
I know, there are times when the company issues ‘scripts’ or tells you have to hit certain points during the call or you will be ‘dinged’. Don’t be a robot spouting verbiage like a dot matrix printer, try your best to personalize. Besides, you are not an actor, you’re an insurance professional.
Build a rapport with the caller, you know the guy who can’t believe he’s now talking with a live person. You have to verify information – is their birthday today?
You would not believe how more customers will remember that than the coverage you sell them. It’s their money and you are just a choice. Make it worth their while.
If you stand by these simple rules, you will stand apart from the drones at the utility company, the cable company and the doctor’s office every time.