Between email, social media, and chat services, there are plenty of ways for your customers to reach your small construction business. But it may come as a surprise that 48% of new customers 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 phone etiquette remains a key skill for all small businesses.
In a recent survey, only 21% of customers reported being satisfied by phone interactions with constructions firms, making construction the sector of the survey with the most room for improvement.
As a construction business, 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 it could be a new opportunity.
From the first ring until the end of the call, there are a few simple ways that your construction business can make every phone call count.
Set your company up for success
1. Make your phone number easy to find.
Make sure it’s visible on every page of your website—and that your website itself is more mobile-friendly by using click-to-call links for smartphone users. The goal is to make it as easy as possible to answer questions and break down their barriers to purchase.
2. Make it accessible.
Take it one step further by making sure that your phone number is easily accessible—and correct—wherever your business name appears, including online directories like Google Maps and Yelp. If you want potential customers to contact you, it’s important to make it as easy as possible!
3. Make it memorable.
You may find yourself asking, will people remember my phone number? These days, probably not. But there are steps you can take to make your number more memorable. Vanity numbers associate your business’s phone numbers with the alphabet that appears on our keypads. Think catchy soundbites that speak to your unique business, like 1-800-FLOWERS.
4. Be reachable.
Once you’re certain that your business number is easily accessible, make sure that there is a person ready to pick up and address caller needs. For every caller who goes to voicemail, your business risks losing a potential customer.
Make a great impression
1. Create a great greeting.
A customer-facing phone greeting is made up of three parts: a salutation, your company name, and an offer of assistance. While “hello” works when answering a personal call, try treating your customers to an enthusiastic greeting. Phrasing like “good morning” or “good afternoon” comes across as more friendly than a simple hello. When spread across time zones, “thank you for calling” always gets a customer call off to the right start! Follow your greeting by identifying your business by name. It assures callers that they’ve reached the right person and place! In fact, small construction businesses can go the extra mile by punctuating their telephone greeting with an offer of assistance. Smooth over any initial awkwardness by cutting to the chase—your customer’s needs! “How many I help you today?” or “How may I assist you?” are short, sweet phrases that put the focus on your customer’s reason for calling. In total, your business’s standard telephone greeting should sound something like “Good afternoon! ABC Construction. How may I help you today?” or “Thank you for calling ABC Construction. How may I assist you?” Whether you’re speaking to a potential or returning customer, a three-part telephone greeting will get every call off to the right start.
2. Be confident.
Confidence is key—especially when answering customers’ questions over the phone or putting them on hold. Infuse your voice with positivity and let your caller know you’re finding the best answer to their question. Simple phrases like “I’d be happy to find out! May I place you on hold?” communicates that you’re working to find a solution. In concept, nobody likes to be put on hold. But, when used well, placing a caller on hold gives you the opportunity to fully answer their question with confidence. For more complex queries, offer to call back or put them in contact with the right person. You and your customer will appreciate the time saved by ensuring you have the complete answer ready. Keep a phrase like “Great question! I’ll find the best person to answer it and have them return your call. May I have your telephone number?” or “He keeps his own schedule, but I’ll be sure to have him return your call as soon as possible. May I have your telephone number?” at the ready for your most complex customer queries.
3. 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 small businesses, but only when used correctly.
4. Be polite.
Incorporate politeness into your customer 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 customer’s first point of contact with your business.
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 business’s unique needs, but a smile is an important first step to keeping the conversation upbeat.
6. 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!”
While a countless number of communication channels may feed your sales funnel, it’s important to remember that for nearly half of all new customers, a phone call is going to be their first point of contact. As a small construction business, your telephone etiquette is an opportunity to extend your professional courtesy and outshine the competition. Be sure to share these ten tips with anyone who may answer the phone on behalf of your business!