Eight Call Answering Mistakes You Have To Avoid

More than three quarters of customers prefer talking to a real person when contacting a business.

And many say it’s more important to them as an increasing amount of communication becomes automated.

The information, from a ‘future of customer experience’ report commissioned by PwC, highlights the essential role phone calls still play across businesses, whether it’s for sales, customer service or support.

But many businesses are underestimating the need for a solid call answering function, relying instead on digital communication.

Nearly two-thirds of companies rely heavily on email for customer communication.

Just 11% focus on phone calls, according to a study by

This reliance on digital technology leads to problems when customers pick up the phone.

In this guide telephone answering service provider Face For Business outlines the 8 most common call answering mistakes businesses make.

Not answering the phone professionally

How you answer the phone sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. And while customers like personalization, there’s still an expectation of some professionalism. They also want to know they’ve called the right number. So answering with “Hello” or “Hi” – as if answering to a friend – isn’t going to work. Instead, you should have a basic response to calls along the lines of:

“Hello [company name], [employee name] speaking, how can I help?”.

Something as simple as this gets the call off on the front foot and stops the customer wasting time checking who they’re talking to.

Rushing The Caller

Every business wants to resolve a customer’s enquiry or problem quickly. But there’s a difference between providing an efficient service and rushing a caller. Remember, when someone contacts your business they’re dealing with a problem. The last thing they want is to feel like they’re an annoyance or just a number that you’re adding to a daily quota. Allow the caller to take their time, making sure you’re taking the time to fully understand why they’re calling.

Trying to rush through a call increases the risk you’ll miss important information, which leads to other problems down the line when you can’t resolve the customer’s issue.

Putting Callers On Hold For Long Periods

Around a quarter of callers will abandon a call if they’re put on hold for too long. For more than a quarter of customers, this means not being on hold for more than a minute. Sometimes putting a caller on hold is necessary to find information or ask for advice to resolve a problem immediately. But don’t leave your customer waiting. If something is taking a long time, keep them updated about what’s happening.

Not Knowing How Call Transfers Work

Not understanding basic functions like call transfers is a big problem in many offices and, according to our own research, stems from a lack of basic phone training.

This inevitably leads to calls being transferred to the wrong phones or, worse, customers being cut off. Call transferring has become an even bigger issue in the last few years with more employees working remotely. But for customer service, it’s essential every employee knows exactly how to get customers to the right people first time.

Not Having A Customer Escalation Policy

As good as your customer service is there’ll be times when a more senior person needs to get involved to resolve an issue or deal with a particularly upset caller.

The problem comes when businesses don’t have a defined escalation policy. This leaves the person who answered the call unable to resolve an issue, and not knowing who to pass the call to.

When it comes to calls and customer service, there should be clear, defined paths for escalating customer calls to more senior team members in order to quickly and effectively resolve issues before they can escalate further.

Not Defining Your Call Routes

Most customer calls fit into three broad batches:

  • Sales
  • Support
  • Service

There will be others depending on the nature of the business, but these are the most common types of calls. And they all require different call routing to make sure customers are speaking to the right people. Problems occur when a customer looking for support ends up speaking with a salesperson and needs to be transferred again. Not to mention it can waste your own team’s time handling calls that aren’t relevant to them.

There are easy ways to resolve this but a telephone answering service is the best way of ensuring customers get through to the right team.

Not Having A Standard For Information Collection

Whether you’re working with a CRM, or organising customer support tickets, collecting all the relevant information your team needs in order to deal with a call is essential.

Unfortunately, information gathering is hit and miss in most businesses.

Sales teams put incomplete data into a CRM, and someone taking a message won’t get the same information as another member of the team – which makes it harder to return calls or resolve issues.

This is why it’s so important to have a standard operating procedure for taking messages on the phone so everyone is gathering the same critical information.

It should always include basic details like the caller’s name, email and phone number, where they’re calling from, and what their enquiry is.

You can always add additional information to gather based on your business.

Using answering machines or automated call routing

At a time when 80% of customers are more likely to buy from a company providing a personalised, tailored experience, hearing a robotic voice asking them to leave a message or follow a sequence of numbers to get to the right person or department won’t cut it. Answering machines or automated call routing is highly impersonal, and rife with risks that could hurt your customer service further.

For one, it’s easy to miss an answer machine message and you could have other problems like poor call quality leaving you unable to actually hear what the customer said.

And call routing assumes the caller has some knowledge about which person or department they need to speak with, which isn’t always obvious. Having a dedicated telephone answering service removes this risk because the caller is always speaking with a real person. Improving call answering is critical to customer service

Whether you use a dedicated telephone answering service or want to have your calls handled in-house, it’s essential you take the time to ensure you’re providing a professionalised service.

Not every call will be handled perfectly but by avoiding basic mistakes with customers on the phone you can drastically reduce the number of complaints you’ll have to deal with and greatly improve the level of customer service you’re able to offer.

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