How is Your Phone Etiquette?

Just days before our freak east coast October snow storm, I was actually enjoying the snow out in Denver, Colorado while attending the AstriCon 2011 Asterisk User Conference and Expo. There were many great speakers but one presentation stood out regarding this month's newsletter topic of phone etiquette.

Voice mail jail.

Voice Mail Jail

If you've ever made a call and gotten trapped in the endless voicemail loop that leads to nowhere, you were probably left feeling irritated and annoyed and quite possibly even opted out of the phone system to call a competitor. Think about your own company answering system. What do your customers hear when they call? A poorly designed automated attendant (also known as Interactive Voice Response - IVR) can leave customers feeling peeved because they can't easily get connected to the right person and could result in lost business. Have you tried calling into your company as if you were a customer lately? How did that make you feel? Setting up a proper auto attendant can help resolve issues quickly and get your callers to the right person.

A Better Designed Voice Mail Menu

The presentation I listened to at AstriCon was given by someone you probably have "spoken" to named Allison Smith. You might not recognize the name but Allison has that familiar voice that welcomes you when you dial into many fortune 500 Companies and she is the voice of one of our partner product lines from Digium.  Ms. Smith presented a list of guidelines to follow when designing your phone system menu. Email me if you'd like to receive a copy of her presentation. Below are just a few tips to think about:

  • Let customers know what to expect immediately when they call - don't overestimate their attention span.
  • Keep your opening menu short with three or four choices.
  • Offer the most popular choices first.
  • If customers have to wait, tell them how long they'll be holding. 

Automatic Call Distribution

A female customer service representative answering phone lines.

In addition to using an automated attendant, companies use automatic call distribution (ACD) which is a system that automatically distributes phone calls to a specific group of agents. Routing calls is the main task of an ACD system and proper protocol would be to inform customers what position they hold in the queue and perhaps, their wait time.  After a couple of minutes (or longer) the caller can be played an apologetic message and an updated hold time, allowing them to decide whether to continue holding or call back later.

A good phone system is one that truly queues up calls in the order they were received.  Some systems dump calls into an automated auto attendant system not revealing when the call will be answered.

Live Agents

Some of our customers don't use automated attendants but rather have a live person answering the phones. It's critical to remember, this person makes the first impression of your company and should reflect your image using a proper procedure. Three important tips for live agents answering incoming calls are:

  • Always identify your company and name.
  • Always be polite using these phrases: please, thank you and I'm sorry.
  • Don't keep people on hold too long. Ask if they'd like to continue holding or leave a message.

Whatever size your company is, having a system in place with proper phone etiquette techniques is essential. If it is important for your customers to have a good experience when they contact you, call LeBlanc Communications today at 203-493-0267 and we'll be happy to do an analysis of your call routing for free when you mention that you read this newsletter!

We're always looking for a better way to

Give Your Network a Voice!®.

 

Sincerely,

Michael LeBlanc, Founder and CEO

LeBlanc Communications Group, Inc.