As Michael Gerber points out in his E-myth books, there should be a system for every part of your operation – even for how the phone is answered and calls are transferred. This may seem too simple, even unnecessary, but in fact a telephone call is often the first contact a customer has with your business.
Many customers hate to be transferred on the phone over and over, to person after person. It suggests that the company doesn’t care about them, or that it is disorganised and staff don’t know who should deal with the enquiry.
There are four points to remember when you transfer a customer phone call:
1. Explain why the caller is being transferred and to whom
This reassures the customer of his/her importance. Also, if the customer is accidentally disconnected, they know who to ask for when they call back.
2. Ask the customer if he or she minds being transferred
Sometimes they may prefer to leave a message, instead. If they’re calling long-distance or on a mobile phone they may be reluctant to hold for the transfer.
NOTE: This particularly applies when customers are put on hold without permission. Some companies permit receptionists, in busy periods, to answer a call “Thanks for calling Company-name, please hold.” This is guaranteed to irritate the caller and should never be allowed.
3. Make sure you’ve spoken with your colleague before you hang up
This step is often forgotten and saves the customer the frustration of being transferred to the voicemail of someone who isn’t available. By staying with the call you take the responsibility to ensure the customer is connected with a live, breathing, person who can help them.
4. Tell the person to whom you are transferring the call, the callers name and the nature of the call
When the customer is answered by someone who already knows their name and basic circumstances, the customer perceives a high standard of efficiency at your company and is satisfied that the company values the customer’s enquiry.
If the caller doesn’t want to be transferred, volunteer to take a message and assure them that you’ll personally deliver the message to the right person. (Don’t forget to make sure the message does get to this person!)
Add these four steps for transferring a call to your Operations Manual and include the system in scheduled staff training.