Focusing on the Customer: A Playbook by B2SMB

 

Ruby recently got to share our guidance on small business scalability.

The result is the newly published B2SMB Institute Playbook, Keeping Focus on the SMB Mindset as Your B2SMB Business Scales.

It’s almost hard to believe there’s so much history in our young company–and that we’ve paced ourselves to the tune of making Oregon Business Magazine’s “Fastest Growing Private 100 Companies” list 11 years in a row.

Phew. That’s a lot of momentum to wrap the arms around. It’s also scores of relationships to build and maintain.

The B2SMB Institute is a hub of resources for Business-to-Small-Business professionals who help other small- and medium-sized businesses succeed. That’s why we felt this opportunity was a perfect fit.

Stay Close While You Grow

Our purpose at Ruby is to help small businesses make real, meaningful relationships with their customers. Even as their companies grow.

Cultivating customer love is our own internal Priority One. And we believe the only way to achieve it is for each of our employees to know–and feel–what it’s like to own, run, and work in a small business.

Is keeping customers close key for your company?

Check out the Playbook

We’ve done the big reveal on our recipes for walking the walk. These include our “WOW Moments” client-gifting program and our year-long, internal “In Our Customer’s Shoes” campaign.

Our empathy-building activities raised both our NPS and CSAT scores, and brought our employees closer to our customers and our mission. (Plus, they were really fun.)

Phone Skills that Boost Your Bottom Line

It’s easy to assume email is the way business gets done these days. But in fact, people will make an estimated 140 billion calls from mobile click-to-call alone in 2019. That’s about 20 billion more than in 2018 and an additional 30 billion are projected on top of that for 2020.*

The result of all this click-to-call action? The phone call will influence more than a trillion dollars in spending this year.

So, with the ways in which people can contact a business constantly proliferating, why is calling still so popular? The answer is simple: people buy from people. And the phone call is an opportunity to connect with a real, live human being.

When you treat phone calls as a golden opportunity to build relationships and add value beyond your product, every ring could yield a customer for life. We’ve put together a list of easy-to-learn phone skills that will help you convert more callers into loyal clients:

Play the Name Game

There’s data to support the warm psychological response to hearing one’s name. Asking for a name is a simple practice you can work to your advantage.

When a new customer identifies their name at the outset of a call, ask them to confirm spelling (yes, even if the spelling seems obvious).

Then, repeating it during the call need not be awkward. Looking up records or taking down an action item create the opportunity (e.g., “Okay, I’ve got the details, John. Now, let’s talk next steps.”) to address them by name and establish familiarity.

In taking the time to learn a customer’s name and perhaps offering your own, you’re developing a rapport and allowing space for an organic connection. Make customers feel at home with your business from the very first interaction and reap the benefits. 

Stay Warm

Never underestimate the power of a warm, pleasant greeting in building a relationship with callers. Develop a solid, simple introduction that lets callers know they have reached the right place, and that you are ready and willing to help!

From here, promptly respond to a customer’s needs, especially if they seem frustrated.

How a customer feels they’re being treated can be as impactful as any action taken to alleviate their frustration. Start by listening and responding to what a customer is saying. There’s great power in validating a customer’s feelings with empathy and accountability.

Simple verbiage like, “I totally understand” or “wow, that must be incredibly frustrating,” can completely turn a call around before you even get down to solving the problem.

Pro tip: Always avoid “I don’t know” as a response to any customer inquiry. It isn’t helpful and detracts from the trust you are trying to build. If you’re stumped by a customer’s question, focus on what you can do, rather than what you cannot.

Ex: “That’s a great question! Jane would be the best person to help you with that. I would be happy to try her line for you.”

Provide Relief

When you speak with a customer by phone, you’re sharing much more than information: you’re providing relief by anticipating and fulfilling their needs.

In addition to phoning in to make a purchase, people call a business when they are seeking a solution to a problem and require a quick response. When something is not working that needs to be fixed or they can’t find an answer to a question, you have the opportunity to really flex your customer service skills.

Go the extra mile to make sure you meet the needs of your customers. Have other customers faced a similar issue? What proved helpful to them? How can you set up a customer now to avoid problems in the future?

In other words…

Be Prepared

Why start from scratch when you can develop a system that works? Brainstorm the top reasons customers contact you by phone. Then, outline best-practices for each scenario.

  • Write down the most common 4 – 5 questions or challenges
  • Note a handful of common answers/solutions for each (especially those you’d need time to otherwise investigate).
  • Create a step-by-step outline for any related procedures. You can even make a checklist to use on each call, ticking off items as you go.
  • Also, note the most helpful follow-up questions. Sometimes, the initial issue isn’t the root of a problem. Asking questions can uncover hidden customer satisfaction issues.
  • Outline potential next steps for situations that may not be resolved with one call and be sure to share those with the customer.

Strengthen customer relationships by demonstrating your investment in their success. Proactive solution-seeking can pave the way for higher customer retention and word-of-mouth referrals.

Pick Up When They Come to Call

There is value in seeing this statement as figurative, but today, we mean this quite literally. Answer the phone! While this may sound like common sense, business owners on the hustle often (understandably) struggle to meet this very basic customer service expectation.

Anyone who has had to press “0” until their thumb goes numb to dodge a phone tree and connect with a real human understands the disparity between what customers need and what they receive. Within this gap, however, lies an opportunity for businesses to stand out from the competition.

Ruby Receptionists is here to help you turn more callers into clients when your business=busyness. Over ten thousand business owners have trusted our live, virtual receptionists to elevate their customer service experience, and capture prospects before losing them to voicemail.

Curious as to how Ruby can help you grow your business? Check out our super free, super helpful ebook to get the full scoop!

DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK

*Invoca 2018 Report

Four Tips for Using Virtual Talent in Your Practice

A virtual legal assistant sounds great on paper𑁋they lower costs, increase your billable hours, widen your profit margins, help you strike a work/life balance, and improve your client relationships. Ideal for the small firm or solo attorney, virtual talent is great in theory, but how do you actually make it work?

A reasonable query, one that I answer in quick four tips. Here are a few protips for incorporating virtual talent into your practice:

1. Identify and plan for your needs.

Running your practice is like working any case, it requires a goal and an understanding of all moving parts. With these in mind, you’re able to build a strategy and an action plan to reach your next milestone.

But let’s talk about your needs for a second. Are you honest with yourself about them? What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? What tasks do you hate doing? Outsourcing is an excellent way to help you focus on what’s profitable while shifting what you either don’t enjoy or don’t have time for to someone else’s plate.  Find a virtual attorney whose strengths are your weaknesses, virtual legal assistants who thrive on those tedious tasks you dislike, and virtual receptionists and legal tech for areas where you are losing money on office management.

In delegating tasks to virtual talent, you regain billable hours for your firm. Attorney and paralegal time can be billed to the client at a reasonable profit margin and you don’t need to cover their overhead as you would a body in your office.

2. Establish clear and proactive communication.

Communication is the key to virtual success. It enables delegation, builds trust, powers efficiency, improves integration, and creates a productive environment. All of which combine to reduce stress and increase efficacy and responsiveness.  Clear and proactive communication also reduces the likelihood of errors, conflicts in communication styles, and the oft-raised concern about assistants ‘disappearing’ along with your tasks (aka ghosting).

Good communication involves being direct about expectations, awareness of skills, and realistic time frames; it requires solid procedures and transparent processes.  Regularly scheduled calls and virtual meetings, the use of cloud-based technology and/or practice management software all give rise to clear communication.

3. Delegate effectively.

Doing everything yourself results in a self-perpetuating cycle of being overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed. As your to-do list grows, you become more inefficient and less profitable. Delegate tasks where you can to remain productive and in control of your quality of life. 

Mindful planning coupled with effective communication is key to feeling confident that all delegated tasks will be completed. You have a plan, you know your weaknesses; you know you can bill paralegal time, and that by freeing up hours in your day you can focus on the work that generates revenue.

4. Use virtual talent to capitalize on specialities.

You’re a small or solo practice, and sure, while the law is the law there are some nuances to each practice area. You can’t possibly know everything about every speciality, so you inevitably reduce your practice area to focus your work.

So, as an estate planner, what do you do when you discover your client has a patent that is being infringed?  How do you handle an immigration case involves human trafficking?  You want to give your client the best service possible, so you study and familiarize yourself with the associated nuances.  But what’s even better? Hiring a freelance specialist to join your team. A virtual attorney and/or virtual legal assistant who supplements and compliments your own expertise is incredibly helpful.  Their knowledge is a significant benefit to your practice, as well as your individual clients.

Master these four tips to integrate virtual talent into your practice, and magic will happen!

Where do you go to learn more about virtual receptionists?

HERE

The Top 10 Ways to Destroy Customer Retention

Getting to know your customers

Customer retention is the fine art of keeping your customer base delighted by your service and loyal to your product. While customer retention is on the radar for most business owners, it may get lost amidst the day-to-day tasks that keep a business moving. Taking existing customer relationships for granted is rarely intentional, but it can feel surprisingly natural to ease off courting your customers once you get them through the door.

Continuing to charm buyers long after that first sale does require a plan and commitment, but the benefits of keeping them around are well worth the effort.

We’ve put together a list of 10 common mistakes businesses make that wind up losing them their most valuable asset: their customers. 

10. Under-Educating Your Base

Many companies overlook one of the best possible outcomes of doing business: the empowerment and gratitude people feel when you open their eyes to all the ways you can make their lives easier.

When it comes to your product or service, don’t be tempted to leave education up to “the Internet.” Take time to help them understand your product benefits; make sure they understand the latest features and updates. Highlight the differences among various product options, so they can easily and confidently make the best choice. They’ll appreciate the saved time, frustration, confusion, and the valuable decision-making power you’re providing them.

As you educate the customer about your products, take time to educate them about your company and your brand, as well. What’s your company’s story? Your values? Specialities or expertise that lend credibility to both you and your products? Make sure your customers know.

Establish yourself as the trusted go-to expert in your field, with just the tools they need, and customers will keep coming back for more.

9. Breaking Promises

The crutch of exceptional customer service is doing what you say you’ll do.  Failure to deliver on the promise of your good is a recipe for dissatisfaction, prompting your customers to walk away with the impression that you cannot meet their needs.

Yikes.

Take time to review the performance or quality claims touted in your marketing materials.  Are they accurate? Do you deliver? Think also about the kind of expectations your customers have about the experience they want when they buy from you.

Here’s your opportunity to take the lead: Set expectations from your side–then meet or exceed them. Be crystal clear about deadlines, the time required to rectify issues, the potential add-on-costs, and similar factors. Being up-front can help you better understand the needs of your customer and reduce the risk of mutual frustration.

8. Failing to Follow Up

One common misstep is not following up with your customers. Is your product hitting the mark for them? Did your project perform as expected?  Even if the answer is no, you’ve opened the door for a new conversation and an opportunity to learn how to improve your offering.

Following up can be as simple as an automated email or as personal as a call from the business owner. Find the practice that works best for you and your customers, and you may be surprised to see a spike in retention and active brand evangelists alike!

7. Forgetting to Ask for Repeat Business

A slight variation on the follow-up is the direct ask. Chances are, if your customers have a good experience, they’ll purchase from you again.

Or perhaps they’ll point you in the direction of another prospective customer.

Consider offering your first-time clients a next-purchase or next-project discount. If you’re completing a big project, be proactive about a follow-up proposal that showcases your abilities as an ongoing strategic partner.


Earn Referrals One Happy Customer at a Time

With Ruby

 


6. Failing to Reward Loyalty

Customer loyalty can be recognized financially, such as offering “frequent-flier”-type rewards. Or, you can opt for something a little more thoughtful, like sending a unique gift or hand-written notecard for an added personal touch.

Loyalty can be built or broken at every touchpoint in the customer lifecycle. Does your customer-facing staff greet repeat customers in a warm, professional way? Does your team retain knowledge about your client over time so that working with you never feels like a “do over”?

Customers like doing business with companies that make them feel like they’re more than just a number. Explore new ways of thanking customers for their business and acknowledging where you’ve been together and where you’re going.

5. Being (Only) a Commodity

If you don’t add value to your customers—or fail to create a personal rapport for that matter, you risk being seen as a commodity. Your offering becomes a service chosen based on price and features, making you an easily-replaceable part of the pack.

So how do you avoid being seen as a commodity? Demonstrate your value by creating meaningful connections.

Get to know your client’s favorite sports team or reach out when you hear about a big accomplishment in their professional or personal life. Connecting with your customer base humanizes your company, making customers more “sticky” and can validate their decision to buy from you – even at a premium price point.

4. Ignoring the Chatter 

There are many platforms today where customers can tell others about their good and bad experiences. It pays to monitor review sites on an ongoing basis and really listen to what people say, the bad and the good.

Negative reviews pose an opportunity for you to make things right with disgruntled customers in a public forum—flex your customer service muscles here and let people see you for the customer-centric business that you are.

3. Being Non-Analytical

It can be tempting to rely on anecdotes or “gut sense” when evaluating your product and customer service experience. But doing so opens you up to missing some truly valuable information and insight. Back up that intuition with a little hard data and you’re off to the races.

Make sure your data analysis extends beyond measuring operational expenses and ROI. Ask questions to gain insights, such as:

What percentage of your current customers are first-timers? How many have been with you for a year or more? Is there something bringing your customers back? And how can you create an even more effective strategy based on the customer lifecycle?

Evaluate the data and share the insights with your customer service reps, sales, and marketing teams to create content, experiences, and product enhancements that will further benefit your current customers.

2. Missing the Heart Connection

It’s easy to assume that people make business decisions based on rational criteria, yet studies show quite the opposite. Some 90% of customer decision-making is emotional, regardless of your industry. That’s why world-leading brands like Coca Cola, Apple, Nike and others spend millions of marketing and advertising dollars annually. They’re investing in emotional connections to draw like-minded (or like-hearted) people to their brands.

You have an opportunity to stand for something that your customers care about. Whether that’s a social cause, a set of beliefs or even a shared sense of humor—take the time to understand the connection between you, your product or service, and your ideal customers.

1. Not Having a Plan

The absolute fastest way to destroy customer retention is to leave it to chance. If you want to keep your customers coming back time and again, you need a plan. Make it simple. Include some measurable data-points, so you know what success looks like. Put it in action, then watch your sales and customer retention metrics blossom.

 

Looking for ways to satisfy your customers? We’ve got an ebook for that.

Learn how language can turn your callers into clients.

Check It Out

 

 

Why You Should be Measuring Customer Satisfaction


There’s a familiar saying about assumptions. It’s not one we’re going to repeat here verbatim, but we’ll paraphrase the takeaway: Assumptions are guesswork.

Customer satisfaction is one of the most critical aspects of running a profitable and successful business. Yet, many companies lack a process for measuring customers’ perception of their brand and service. It’s easy to assume you and your staff are taking great care of your customers. But if there are flaws in the system, you may not know there’s a problem until it’s too late.

Luckily, the power is in your hands. Implementing one or more of the following strategies helps you to be proactive in creating happy customers.

Conduct a Survey


The survey is an obvious go-to strategy for measuring customer service success–and with good reason. There are many tried-and-true methodologies you can leverage to test your customer touch points.

You may think “big money” when you consider doing a survey, but it’s easier than ever for a small business to develop a do-it-yourself poll. Write up a small handful of key questions, then use a free or low-cost resource such as Survey Monkey to send it out to your email list. The set-up is a breeze, and dynamite analytics are built right into the software.

You don’t need a huge customer list for your survey project to be a home run. Qualitative surveys can flood you with useful insight about your customers’ experience and attitudes.

Pro Tip:

There’s a wealth of information online about popular customer satisfaction surveys, how to structure them, and what questions to ask. You may want to consider:

  • The CSAT (to measure overall customer satisfaction)
  • The Net Promoter Score (NPS) (to gauge how likely customers are to recommend your brand to others)
  • The Customer Effort Score (to assess customer ease-of-use with your product or service)

Worried customers won’t take the time to fill out your survey? Offer an incentive. The information they’ll provide is pure gold and well worth a small gift or discount.


Impress Callers to Win Business

With Ruby

 


Be an Active Listener


Another massive advantage to being in business for yourself these days is the ability to hear the unvarnished truth from customers in the form of reviews and social media sites. It’s taken the business world a while to get comfortable with this reality. After all, these forums allow your customers to rave about the good but also shout about the bad.

But guess what? You can work both scenarios to your advantage.

First, your customers may sing your praises in ways you didn’t imagine. This positive feedback allows you to re-evaluate your own messaging in a whole new light. It also provides insight into what your customers REALLY find important.

Second, the truth is there are no “bad” reviews. Complaints can magnify negative trends you didn’t know existed. Even better, you can engage with the customer online and work with them toward a solution.

Resolving an issue can generate greater customer loyalty than never having had a problem in the first place. Better yet, other potential customers monitoring the conversation will see you’re willing to go the extra mile to ensure customer happiness.

Pro Tip:

A listening program can be as simple as identifying a few key sites or platforms, then assigning one or more of your staff to listen in. If you want to go bigger, a variety of apps and agencies are ready to help you tap technology for robust monitoring campaigns.\

 

Just Ask


A slight riff on the survey is a brief Q&A script for your customer-facing staff. Develop a short list of queries that Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) or account managers can interject into the course of a business conversation.

Does your customer feel their issue was resolved during the call or visit? If not, were they provided with a clear plan of action? Was the process quick and easy or did the customer experience friction? What could your CSR do better next time?

Often just asking the question will put you heads-and-shoulders above your competition. Also, it eliminates guesswork about whether the customer got the help they needed.

Pro Tip:

Don’t send your people in cold. Roll out your new Q&A program as a formalized process and acknowledge you’re asking for a behavior change. Highlight that ending a call on a positive note is a benefit for your staff as well as the customer. And consider rewards you might offer for CSRs who go above and beyond.

Now, plot your course.


Once you have data in hand, it may feel like your job is done, but it’s really just begun. Now, it’s time to make your Customer Satisfaction Plan.

Initiatives can range from rolling out a new set of company values to implementing training for your customer-facing staff to introducing a gamified program that engages your team and provides incentive for top achievers. It could even include bringing in a pro to outline a formal strategy for continual improvement.

Even one exceptionally positive experience can create a customer for life.  Launch a customer success strategy to measure and improve your customer relationships, help you win new business, and retain your existing customers.

Looking for more customer experience tips?

We recommend starting from the moment you say “hello.”

Learn how to turn callers into clients with our free ebook!

 

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7 Things Every Business Should Automate

Heart on smartphone screen.

What if you could save time, improve efficiency, and provide your customers with a better experience, all while actually taking work off your plate?

Automation is the tool of the innovative business. When you use automation tools, you’re enabling your team to work more efficiently, as well as providing your customers with a better experience. These tools, combined with a talented team, can streamline everything from marketing to customer relations and internal processes. Save yourself time and precious energy with our suggested list of automation tools for small businesses!

1) Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Efficiently managing a lead pipeline can be difficult, but customer relationship management software can make the process much easier to manage. With the right tools, you can better target your leads, improve customer experience, and manage your sales process. For example, imagine being able to delight your customers with anniversary emails and product updates, automatically. Implementing a CRM allows you to provide your customers with a premium experience, without the extra work.

Examples:

  • Infusionsoft is a CRM specially tailored for small businesses. Their tool helps small business owners reach the right customers at the right time and provides insights into who customers are and what they’re doing.
  • Clio is designed to help solo or small firm employees build a better practice with case, client, document, bill, and time tracking capabilities. If you’re looking to improve your practice’s efficiency, Clio can help.

2) Invoicing

As a small business, it’s vital you stay on top of your accounting and invoicing. With the help of automation you can streamline recurring invoices, centralize timesheets, and automatically track what’s been paid, and what hasn’t. Put your customers at ease with proper, reliable, and consistent invoicing.

Examples:

  • Freshbooks is easy to use accounting software that streamlines creating professional looking invoices, capturing expense reports, tracking billable moments, and collaborating with others.
  • Harvest empowers you to focus on doing your work, not tracking it. With a straightforward design and all the tools you need to organize your books, Harvest makes wasting hours on invoicing a thing of the past.

3) Social Media Scheduling and Management

In this day and age, social media is a vital part of every business’ marketing efforts—no matter how big or small. Scheduling tools allow you to manage your social media presence across platforms, maintain a personal connection with your customers, and stay organized. Share a product update across your social networks and update your customers about special events automatically. Making a personal connection has never been so easy!

Examples:

  • Buffer and Hootsuite each offer unique platforms that help you to streamline your social media efforts by scheduling posts at the optimum time, posting across social networks, uploading custom photos and videos, and centralizing all of your social efforts.
  • IFTTT is an innovative tool that allows you to work more efficiently by helping you with social sharing, productivity, web alerts, and more. Save time and keep up with industry news with IFTTT.

4) Customer support

Quality customer support automation allows you to provide a personal touch, while also making it easy to quickly view, catalog and reference customer requests. By building out processes through automation, your employees can focus on providing the highest quality of customer care.

Example:

  • Zapier is the tool you want at your side to centralize workflow. By connecting all your apps, automating routine tasks, and building processes, Zapier ensures that everything you need to support your customers is always at your fingertips.

5) Appointment and Meeting Scheduling

Scheduling meetings and appointments can be bothersome with variable schedules and busy customers, and nobody enjoys a missed or rescheduled meeting. An efficient scheduling software simplifies managing your day, while also helps you build trust with your customer base, and makes your company feel more approachable and accessible.

Example:

  • AppointmentCore is a fantastic tool that integrates with major calendar and meeting apps. This innovative software creates timeslots for your customers, update internal schedules, and displays easy to navigate calendars. You’ll never double book an appointment again.

6) Collecting Feedback from Customers

Customer feedback helps your company grow. Unfortunately collecting customer feedback can be, you guessed it, time-consuming. As your customer base grows, it gets harder and harder to reach out to each individual and request personalized feedback. Luckily there are tools to help!

Examples:

  • Mailchimp’s tagline is “send better email, sell more stuff.” It allows you to skip the process of selecting who to email, what to say, and when to send it by automating the whole process. Want to send a follow-up email right after a customer makes a purchase? No problem. Email is powerful, and Mailchimp puts this power at your fingertips.
  • SurveyMonkey enables you to make, deliver, and record the results of surveys, quickly and easily. Send your survey via mobile, web, or social media in an accessible format that clients can fill out effortlessly. Plus, it integrates with Mailchimp!

7) Office Supplies – Amazon Dash & Subscribe & Save

Shorten your work week and save time by automating your office supply orders. Avoid submitting the same supply order manually every month and have your orders sent out automatically, without a  second thought.

Examples:

  • Amazon Dash is the new way to shop. Using a simple button or wand, you can order new supplies quickly and effortlessly. It doesn’t get much more streamlined than this.
  • Amazon Subscribe and Save is perfect if you need the same supplies on a month-to-month basis. You just select an item, schedule deliveries, and subscribe to your order. Every month you’ll get your supplies and save up to 15%.

 

Receptionist Tips for Answering the Phone: 3 Ways to Make Your Company’s Greeting Great

First impressions: you never get a second chance to make them, and at Ruby® Receptionists, we’re all about making them great.

For our virtual receptionists, answering the phone is a chance to show off our super-friendly stuff. A company’s greeting plays a key part in making an impeccable impression on a caller, and we love helping new clients craft greetings that wow!

Without further ado, here are three Ruby-approved elements to use when answering the phone:

A greeting.  

I know, you’re shocked.

But, first things first: simply stating your company name isn’t enough. Begin your company’s greeting with “Hello,” or “Thank you for calling,” or, if most of your callers are in the same time zone, try “Good morning/afternoon.” Better yet, combine two or three of these options in your greeting!

Welcome your callers with a few warm words before saying anything else. A little courtesy goes a long way!

Your company name.

Now, “Hello” is a great way to begin a greeting, but it does not a greeting make. If your business is answering the phone with “Hello” alone, call a company meeting pronto and nix that nuttiness. In fact, a plain “Hello” can be confusing to callers, and it’s likely to make them question whether they’ve dialed the correct number. Always state your company name when taking calls. You’d hate to have a potential client hang up on you because they think they’ve misdialed, right?

An offer of assistance.

“How may I help you?” Ah, what beautiful words. Let your callers know you’re raring to make their day by rounding off your greeting with a question. “How may I help you today?” and “How may I assist you?” are two rock-solid options. Are you routing calls rather than addressing questions when answering the phone? Perhaps try “How may I direct your call?” Is there a question you need to ask every caller? Ask it! (“May I have your account number please?”)

Because every customer wants to feel considered, ending your greeting with a helpful question makes for a great customer experience every step of the way.



Your Gleaming Greeting:

After all is said and done, here’s what the finished product should look like, er…sound like, rather: “Good morning! Thank you for calling ABC Company. How may I help you today?”

I feel good just reading it. Sure beats the heck out of “Hello”!

 

Make a lasting first impression and start turning callers into customers today!

10 Critical Phone Tips for Construction Professionals

Between email, social media, and chat services, there are plenty of ways for your clients to reach your construction business. But it may come as a surprise that 48% of new clients prefer a phone call as the first point of contact for a local business. Though many of us may shy away from phone calls in favor of text messages in our personal lives, professional telephone etiquette remains a critical skill for all businesses.

In a recent survey, only 21% of clients reported being satisfied by phone interactions with construction professionals, making construction the sector of the survey with the most room for improvement.

It’s important to stay on top of new client relationships as well as existing projects with friendly and approachable phone etiquette. Whether you have a dedicated receptionist or answering your business phone is a shared responsibility, every time your phone rings you have an opportunity to impress (and win jobs).

From the moment a potential client decides to call your business to your parting goodbyes, there are a few simple phone tips that your construction business can make every phone call count.

Be Accessible

Rule number one to growing your business: give clients ample opportunity to connect. When someone realizes they have a problem that you can solve, picking up the phone and dialing in should be as easy as 1,2,3:

  1. Make your phone number easy to find.

    Don’t play hide-and-seek with potential clients—your phone number should be visible on every page of your website and empowered with click-to-call. In fact, wherever your business name appears (Google, Yelp, etc.) make sure your phone number is present and up-to-date!

  2. Make it memorable.

    In a time where cell phones dominate how we connect with one another, the odds of clients (potential or current) memorizing your business number are slim. Stay top of mind by creating something catchy. Think jingles and soundbites that speak to your expertise, something like 1-800-ROOFERS.

  3. Make it a point to pick up.

    What’s the point of driving traffic to your business phone if you’re just going to lose callers to an automated phone system or deflating voicemail? Missing calls is a great way to send business straight into the arms of your competitor.

Be Impressive

Remember that daunting stat we gave you at the beginning of this blog post? While a 79% dissatisfaction rate is pretty alarming, the good news is: you’re doing more than most contractors can by simply picking up the receiver. While this is a great first step, failing to impress while actually speaking with a client can be just as harmful as an impersonal phone tree. Woo your callers into clients with these little bits of Ruby magic:

1. Create a great greeting.


We’ve written a handy how-to for great greetings here, but in summary, your business’s standard telephone greeting should sound something like this:

“Good afternoon! ABC Construction. How may I help you today?” or “Thank you for calling ABC Construction. How may I assist you?”

2. Use hold wisely.

The location of the hold button is one of the first things you learn on your business’s phone system. But how do you communicate your rationale for putting a customer on hold? When it comes to putting a customer on hold, it’s better to ask than tell. Ask your customer’s permission to press the hold button with a simple “May I put you on hold?” Of course, your caller may prefer to stay on the line. If that’s the case, stay on the phone and communicate how it is you’re addressing their question or ask how their day is. A hold button is a valuable tool for your business, but wield it’s power wisely.

3. Be polite.

Incorporate politeness into your client service strategy with a few key phrases. While there’s no shortcut for great phone etiquette, saying “please” and “you’re welcome” will go a long way. Phrases like “my pleasure,” “may I,” and “I’d be happy to…” make a conversation feel balanced, pleasant, and natural—especially when it’s your client’s first point of contact with your business.

4. Smile!

Be sure to smile. You may have heard this piece of advice before, but did you know that you can hear a smile over the phone? Callers will be able to hear the warmth in your voice, and you may find yourself feeling more positive. No one can truly anticipate all of a client’s unique needs, but a smile is an important first step to keeping the conversation upbeat.

5. End the call in style.

When the conversation is winding down, reverse our three-stage greeting for a professional sign off. Be sure that you’ve addressed your customer’s reason for calling by asking if there’s anything else they may need help with. Once the conversation is at a close, thank your caller for reaching out! They’re expressing an interest in your business, so regardless of how the call ends, be sure to thank them for their time. Your final exchange for every call will sound something like:

Is there anything else I can help you with today? Thank you for calling ABC Construction. Have a great day!

 

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