The Telephone Doctor
1. Your story is so interesting; primarily because you never really wanted to start a telephone sales and service consulting business. Take us back to those early days and tell everyone the story of how you started down the road to becoming America’s Telephone Doctor.
It’s a fun story and takes a good hour to tell it right; but let me give you the highlights.
I was working at my husband’s advertising business. One day I had to call my insurance agent to discuss something. When I reached the office and asked for him, it was all downhill. The staff could not have been worse. No please, no thank you, no you’re welcome. No nothing. Frustrated after I hung up from the call, I waited until I was in a better frame of mind and called the agent back. When he answered I told him, “Cancel all our accounts.” (We were one of, if not the largest client he had.) I’m pretty sure I heard him fall off his chair and he said, “My gosh Nancy! What happened?” Without missing a beat, I told him. “Your people stink! They’re so rude, they’re so unfriendly, so unpleasant and I don’t want to be treated like that. You’re good and your wife is pretty and your kids are cute. I’ll have lunch with you, but I don’t want to do business with you anymore.”
He said, “Well, you’re right Nancy, when I call your office I’m treated like a king.” I told him, “Michael, we treat our wrong numbers better than you treat your customers!”
He asked me to come over and show his folks what they should have done. So I did. In about 15 to 20 minutes I told them, “Say please. Say thank you. Say you’re welcome. Say have a nice day. Help your callers. Be friendly.” And a few other things you learn in 3rd grade.
As I was leaving the office, the president of the insurance agency, stopped me and said, “Thank you. We really learned some new things.”
I came home and told my husband what happened and what the president said. New things? Things that we do like breathing in and out. Dick said, “Don’t ever be surprised. No one has ever shown them.”
The publisher of a newspaper in Quad Cities Iowa heard the story about what I had done at dinner that night. He called me and asked me to come to his newspaper and train his staff. So, I wrote a 4-hour program and flew to his newspaper and delivered 4 programs. After the last program, the editor of the newspaper came over and thanked me and said, “You’re very good. I’m goanna call you the ‘Doctor’ – The Telephone Doctor.” I came running home to my husband and told him someone called me The Telephone Doctor. I then asked, “What should I do?” Dick said, “Let’s go get it registered…we’re goanna have some fun!” And fun we’ve been having running around the country, the world if you will, helping companies communicate better with their customers. Now, 30 some odd years later, Telephone Doctor is the leading provider of telephone and communication skills in the country.
2. What a great and entertaining story! Let’s jump right into some meat and potatoes and talk about telephone sales. What are some general no no’s when talking to a potential customer over the phone?
Well, this could be a long novel; however, let me give you the nuts and bolts, or readers digest version as they say.
The initial greeting is the first “sale” you need to make. So, we start with the Telephone Doctor’s 3-part greeting. The 3-parting greeting is where your sale starts.
A. You need a “BUFFER.” That’s either good morning, good afternoon, or it could be thanks for calling or we’re glad you called. But you need some words that ‘welcome’ the caller ‘in.’
B. Then of course, your company name. In this case, I NEED A MAID.
C. Then YOUR name.
So, it sounds like this: “Thanks for calling Two Maids & A Mop, this is Nancy.” Then STOP. Anything after your name erases your name. “How can I help you” is NOT necessary on the initial greeting. You are there to help. It also speeds the rapport building process and 80% of the time when you end with ‘your’ name, the caller gives his.
There are many things you shouldn’t say to a customer. I’d rather focus on the positive and share what is best to say. One of the most useless comments said to a customer is: “I don’t know.” You see, when you answer the phone, the caller expects answers. “I don’t know” is complete rejection and taken that way. You should be saying, “That’s a great question, let me check and find out for you.”
As I said, we could go on and on and on what to say and what not to say.
3. Let’s talk about service for a minute since keeping a customer is more important than gaining a new one. We all know that listening to a customer is essential to resolve an issue. What are some tips that we can use to become a better listener?
Our 6 point plan for listening skills is very popular and it works. Remember, listening is an art; not a science. You can be a better listener.
• Decide to be a better listener!
• Welcome the caller. Be obviously friendly.
• Concentrate. Avoid interrupting.
• Keep an open mind. Let them talk.
• Write as they talk. Take notes; jot key words down to refer to.
• Give verbal feedback. An occasional ‘Great,’ or ‘I understand,’ or ‘I agree,’ something that shows you ARE listening. Too much silence on a service call is scary to the caller.
4. Let’s end with a challenge from you to our franchisees. If you could create a test to judge everyone’s telephone sales & service skills, what would that test look like?
GREAT QUESTION and simple answer. I would have every ‘owner’ call into their own location and ask for themselves, a service or a product. We cannot fix what we do not know. Ask a ‘simple’ question. See how it’s answered. And if you feel your voice is too recognizable, have someone else do it for you. And listen in if you can. Obviously don’t use your own phone – they could recognize that. I’d also have other staff members in the office do the same thing. Have them call in and hear how others are doing. Yes, it can be scary; however, it will help everyone.
Answering the phone is not for everyone. And not everyone enjoys it. It’s not easy to be good. If it were easy to be good, everyone would be good. And we know everyone isn’t good.
Be sure the folks who are answering your phones enjoy it. Believe me, your customers can tell.