Do you work for a call answering service? It can be very rewarding - if you have the right techniques to help your callers. As a virtual receptionist, you get to talk to people from all walks of life, from all over the country. So how do the best small business answering service employees create connections, help callers feel heard, and make their days a bit brighter? These six tips will help you make the most out of every interaction:
1. Exude confidence. When you work for an answering service for small businesses across the nation, it might be difficult to know all the ins and outs of every unique company. Not to worry; the best virtual receptionists know that not even in-house receptionists will have all the answers. If you respond confidently, your callers will feel taken care of. And if you don't know the answer, try to get them to someone who does.
2. Never say, "I don't know." Along the same lines, try to avoid the phrase "I don't know." It doesn't add anything to the conversation and is a dead-end. The best virtual answering services will have instructions on how to route different types of calls (e.g., potential new clients go to Joe), so try using the phrases "Let me" and "I would be happy to." For example, "Great question! Let me see if Joe is available to speak with you about our services. May I tell him who's calling?"
3. Look for opportunities to offer assistance. In addition to offering alternatives when you don't know the answer, look for other chances to chime in! Offering a call to a client who uses your virtual receptionist service and sense a hesitation? Offer to take a message! Did your caller tell you while you're taking a message that they've been playing phone tag? Ask if there's a good time for them to receive a return call so that they can connect. Some surprise thoughtfulness will make their day a bit brighter and make your client's business look good.
4. Repeat/confirm information. Human error is a common fear for callers when leaving a message with a receptionist or answering service. Numbers can be transposed, key points misheard or missed entirely; on the flip side, the advantage of having a live person to take the message is that they can make sure their caller's message is relayed accurately. Confirm all contact information with a quick, "Just to confirm, your phone number is (503) 555-2185?...Wonderful!" For email addresses and mailing addresses be sure to keep a phonetic alphabet handy for similar-sounding letters ("B" and "D" are hard to differentiate over the phone, but a simple, "And is that a 'B' as in 'boy' or 'd' as in 'dog?'" takes out the guesswork!).
5. Enunciate. "Yeah" and "Naw" won't earn you points in professionalism, and it'll make you look inexperienced, or worse, indifferent. Go for the gold with the full "Yes," or even better, use expressive phrases like, "Absolutely," "Certainly," and "I would be happy to!"
6. Sound familiar. The best answering services know that formal titles like "Mr." and "Ms." can be off-putting to callers. Your callers may introduce themselves as "Mr. Smith" or, if you work for a virtual receptionist service for attorneys, "Judge Murray"; in that case it's probably best to refer to them as they refer to themselves. However, most of the time your callers will appreciate your familiarity by calling them by their first name often. It makes you sound like you're old friends and will put them at ease. If you're a virtual receptionist, that can make all the difference!