4 Ways to Sabotage Your Caller's Experience

By Alli Hill

Your phone is a beating heart to your business, so don’t botch it with bad call procedures. Falling prey to these 4 telephone blunders can deal heavy damage your company image and shrink your bottom line:

1.       Asking callers to hold before discovering why they called.

“Thanks for calling – Can you please hold?” If this is how you answer the phone, you’re sabotaging your company image. Of course you get busy, even overwhelmed, but for callers with a simple mission, these words give them the green light to hang up and dial your closest competitor.

It only takes a moment to find out why a prospect chose to call your business. If you’re too busy to assist them, don’t shirk their call immediately. The call might be resolved in a matter of seconds, like giving store hours or directions, or it could be transferred to someone else who has the time to handle the caller’s needs. Worst case, you find out what they need, then ask them to hold. At least they know you care they called.


2.       Answer the phone with an inconsistent greeting.

If you’ve already trained your staff to answer every call with the exact same greeting, congratulations, you’re doing better than lots of companies out there. Using a consistent greeting sets certain expectations: callers know they’ve reached the right place, and they know they’re dealing with true professionals who care about the quality of their work.

Studies have shown that a large chunk of lost business each year is due to negative or indifferent treatment they received on the phone. While not all calls may go as smoothly as you like, you can give every call the best opportunity to be a good one by starting on a high note.

Even small inconsistencies can affect a caller’s experience: If your greeting is short or abrupt, or if you sound winded or overwhelmed, your caller probably won’t have a strong image of your company. If business is hectic, shroud out the chaos when you answer the phone, slow your speech, speak clearly, and put a smile in your voice. Subtleties like these can make the difference.


3.       Play nothing on hold.

Silence – or those annoying beeps – is a surefire way to lose that caller and their potential purchases. When a caller hears dead air on hold, 30 seconds easily feels like 90. Interjecting beeps into the mix isn’t any better. While those beeps do ensure callers they haven’t been hung up on, hearing the same beep, beep every five or ten seconds can become maddening.

Surveys show callers are more likely to hold longer when listening to music or messages. In one study by American Teleservices Association, an astounding 88% of survey participants admitted they want to hear product information. You’ve got plenty to talk about, and on hold messaging provides a cost-effective outlet to send your missive to the right people.


4.       Shuffle the caller through multiple points of contact.

You might think it’s good business practice to check on customers hanging out on hold (and to an extent, it is), but if a caller needs to speak with a specific person, it’s both frustrating and counterproductive for other employees to pick up the call.

Going through multiple points of contact before finally reaching the desired person wastes everyone’s time. It reveals holes in communication between the employees, and also means that the person the caller is trying to reach won’t be able to pick up the line if someone else is already on it.

If a caller is holding for a certain someone, let everyone know about it. Don’t continually transfer the call simply to make it someone else’s responsibility.