The Real Impact Of Your Business Phone System

When I make calls to inquiring companies that have requested information from me on a daily basis, the impressions I get about them run the gamut from “Boy this is a SMALL business” to “Wow that was incredible. These guys sound like a fortune 1000 Company.” What turns out to be somewhat amusing is that the two companies may very well be the same size, with the same number of employees, and they just might have a similar phone system. So what are the keys to first impression that make all of the difference? And what are some of the mistakes that companies make in an attempt to save money? Let’s evaluate:

Live Answer Scenarios:

If you insist on answering your business calls live, the person answering your phones is vital to your company. They are absolutely worth their weight in gold depending on call volume, as they are the direct representation of your company’s image over the phone. This person must be well spoken, well trained, and be able to use the features your system offers efficiently. What mistakes are made here that impact your first impression?

Hiring the lowest dollar person possible to “just answer phones.”
Hiring someone without proper language skills. (Including heavy accents, poor grammar, too much slang, too much casual language (y’know man, dude, etc), and someone unable to properly handle angry or upset customers.
Not having someone properly trained to park calls, put callers on hold, transfer calls, ask if they’d like to go to voice mail, and in general able to use the phone system features.
Not hiring someone friendly. Who wants to do business with someone who acts like they have no desire to help you?
We have all dealt with one of the above scenarios, and it absolutely affects how you view that business from day one, and for every day forever more after that. You only have one chance to make that first impression.

Automated Attendant Scenarios:

Unless you answer your telephone system live every time it rings, you most likely implement some type of automated attendant system. An automated attendant system will answer your call with a message and give your new caller some choices to choose from. Programmed correctly, an automated attendant can assist your caller to navigate your company directly easily and conveniently. Done wrong, untold amounts of frustration can occur, and it WILL cost you business. What are the most common mistakes made with automated attendants?

Never use a TTS engine. (Text To Speech) Always use a live person with an inviting voice to make your recordings. No wants to speak to a robot. Unless your TTS engine is state of the art and sounds real, don’t even think about using it.
Make your introductory statement brief and to the point. (Your customer does not want to know your entire company history before they can get some help, and this is especially frustrating for returning callers who just want to get to the choices, but can’t remember them.)
Absolutely, 100% of the time you need to have a zero out option at ANY time. Some callers simply will refuse to deal with an automated attendant, and in order to not lose out on those potential customers, it is wise to have a well spoken friendly person ready to take their call and assist them. (See above criteria)
Have an easy to use directory, and keep it updated! (There is nothing worse than pressing numbers that lead to nowhere, that disconnect you, and leave you muttering unseemly things under your breath) Time is money in business. If you waste your potential client’s time, they will NOT give you their money.