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Secrets Revealed To Having The Most Professional Staff On The Telephone!

Do you have all the customers your business can use?

The seemingly simple task of taking phone calls is a hidden liability for not just some, but most businesses. You've invested precious dollars in advertising and marketing. You've invested time in developing customer relationships. What happens when customers call your business? Many of us would be shocked to find out the truth.

When customers call your business, how are they treated on the phone?

If your business is like most in this country you may have seen to it that your receptionist received some basic training on how your phones should be answered and how calls should be processed. But what about the rest of your staff?

Today in business you know it costs far more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer.

Have you ever called a business only to be treated improperly by whoever answered the company's telephone? Most of us have had that experience when calling a business and the person answering the telephone just had bad manners.

"Hi XYZ Company" (No Name - Who answered?)

Recently my son went into the service and after not hearing from him for several weeks I placed a call to the recruit training command where he was stationed to ease my concern about his well being. Here's a recap of my call:

"Hello Perrttieoficorshweble." "Pardon me. Who am I speaking with?" I asked


Since I was concerned about my son's well being I wanted to be sure I got the name of who ever I was talking with so I asked again.

"I'm sorry I still didn't catch your name who am I speaking with?"

"This is Perrttieoficorshweble"

Three times I tried to get Petty Officer Schweeble to slow down and enunciate his name. I finally did get it.

Have you ever called a company only to have someone who had NO business answering the phone, doing so? Is that person at your business?

Another time, a client had asked me to call a subcontractor to coordinate a job our company was doing for them. When I called the phone was answered clearly.

"Hello A&A Powerline Contractors."

"Hello. This is James Bower with ABC Telecom; Mrs. Headrick from the school district asked me call and coordinate your trenching job with your new equipment installation."

"Oh! Just a minute let me see if the guy you need to speak with is here."

Immediately I was cast into silence. Was I put on hold or did I get cut off? I couldn't tell, so in the hopes that I was on hold, I HELD. And I waited. A moment later the gentleman came back on the line. Thank goodness.

"I'm sorry the guy you need to speak with isn't here. You can call him at 555-1234."

"Thank you. And who should I speak with when I call that number?" (You see he hadn't told me who I was calling for.)

"Oh! His name is Tim."

After trying to reach Tim at the number I was given and getting no answer I called back to the first guy. When he answered the phone he explained he couldn't help me, as he was only the janitor. I asked if he could take a message for Tim. He assured me he could. What I should have asked was could he take a message for Tim and see that he would get it. Because two days later I received a panicked call from Tim and Mrs. Headrick, as Tim had no idea what he was supposed to do at the job site. He had never gotten the detailed message I left for him with the janitor.

Although the first gentleman on the phone was pleasant and friendly, he actually wasn't much help and shouldn't have been answering the phones without being trained properly. If I had been calling to see if A&A Powerline could do a job for me, do you think they would be getting my business?

"So how can a business protect their most valuable asset; their customers?"

When it comes to why businesses lose customers, the perception of a staff that doesn't care ranks as the leading factor is reflected in a study by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Nearly 70 percent of those polled in the SBA study said that the perception of a non-caring staff led them to leave and buy from other businesses. This was by far the strongest response of six factors.

14 percent said product dissatisfaction ranked second. Price ranked third, with 9 percent of customers stating that as the reason they changed businesses. A friend or family member's recommendation ranked fourth, ahead of moving away, and death. The SBA's study reinforces that the way we treat our customers is a major contributor to keeping customers from leaving and taking their business to your competitors.

68% leave because of an attitude of indifference toward the customer by the business

14% are dissatisfied with the product

9% leave for competitive reasons

5% develop other friendships

3% move away

1% die

Consider the fact that the typical business only hears from about 4% of its dissatisfied customers. The other 96 percent quietly go away, and 91 percent of those will never come back.... Ever!

Did you know the average dissatisfied customer tells 8-10 others about lousy service. Twenty percent of these dissatisfied customers will tell twenty others. For the average business, it takes six times more $$$$$$ to attract new customers than it does to keep old ones. So doesn't it make sense to do everything you can to keep the customers you have?

On an average day do you know what percentage of your customers receive service over the telephone? It's not unusual to have more than 80% of customer contact over the telephone.

Take this simple test:

Do you conduct regular on going telephone training for all your staff?

Have others besides the receptionist been trained on the proper use of the phone?

Do you know where the weak links on the telephone are within your company?

Do your customers who have been handled improperly on the phones call to let you know about it?

Do you regularly call into your office to see how the phones are handled?

If you answered NO to two or more of these questions you might have a telephone etiquette problem.

How do you get these problem areas fixed?

A few simple steps will assist in fixing your staff.

Answering the Telephone has three basic parts.

1. Identify the company that has been reached. "ABC Welding..."

2. Identify the person answering the call. "This is James..."

3. Let the caller know you are there for them "How may I help you?"

I don't think you should ask "How may I Direct your call." If the person calling is looking for information; your mailing address, your fax number they now have to stop and correct you. "You can't direct my call I need your fax number."

Another key point is to have all the things you might need when answering a call. Have you ever called somewhere and the party you called for wasn't available so you were asked "Can I take a message for them?" Then as you start to leave your message the other person says " Oh, just a minute let me get a pen." or Hey! My pen just ran out of ink." Why isn't the person prepared?

Always have 2 pens and a note pad ready incase you need to take a message or notes about a call you're on. The second pen is for "Hey my pen ran out of ink." You shouldn't tell the caller that, just change pens and keep going.

Once you've taken the message repeat what you've written down to be sure you have it correct. Then assure the caller you'll get the message to the party they called for.

These are some simple tips on how to make your firm appear more professional on the telephone. The only impression a caller gets of your firm is what they hear come through the receiver.


A poorly answered telephone isn't much better than a phone that isn't answered at all.

? Bower Income and Profit Systems MMV All Rights Reserved.

James A. Bower is the Co-Founder and President of Bower Income and Profit Systems a company dedicated to enhancing business performance in many areas through tapes books and seminars. His presentations include sales, marketing, telephone skills, motivation, goal setting and achievement, telephone equipment and voice mail design and business organization for efficiency. He is an internationally recognized instructor and is the recipient of many awards in recognition of his successful efforts in assisting businesses create a more efficient environment resulting in maximum profits. He has had the opportunity to speak for groups as a large as 5000 and can get his points across to any size audience.

James has been actively addressing business issues and solving business problems for over 30 years. He is available to make presentations to company staff or for individual consultation.

Contact James at 316-773-1994 or

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