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  • Impressive First Impressions

    Posted: Sunday, November 20, 2011

    by Suellen Richardson

Customers are full of unknowns. When they call a company because of some type of dissatisfaction, they may be “on the fence”. It’s likely they haven’t decided which side of the fence they will land on — the nice, calm, rational “manner garden” or the downright nasty, upset and emotional “landfill” side.

The side of the fence the customer chooses is influenced by what we say and how we say it when we answer their call.

Whoever answers the telephone — it could be the receptionist, switchboard operator, customer service specialist, technical support engineer, or manager — is actually the company gatekeeper and sets the tone for the entire conversation during the first 3-5 seconds of the call! And between garden and landfill, it’s easy to imagine the mudslinging choice because of a greeting that sounds rude, monotone, rushed and abrupt versus a greeting that is confident, positive, friendly and professional.

And if calls are backing up in the queue, the gatekeeper role begins with the recorded message the callers hear while they wait. The situation can actually be aggravated when hold times are used as an opportunity for a commercial or advertisement. For callers who are already dissatisfied with the experience they are having with a company, these recorded commercials may actually provoke them to think “I’m calling because I’m unhappy and having a bad experience with your company, why are you trying to promote even more of your products and services to me?”.

Aside from an opportunity to pave the way for satisfying the unsatisfied, there is also the opportunity to impress “First Time Callers” who have not yet had an experience with calling.

Carefully consider what your company’s standard greeting is and ensure it is concise, helpful and friendly. Avoid falling into the trap of thinking “It’s only a few seconds of the conversation, it’s really not that important.” Customers should feel welcome and comfortable as they “walk in the front door” of your company – even if it is via a telephone call. And the gatekeepers play a huge role in this.

Remember, we never get a second chance to make a good first impression!

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