Most company leaders will invest considerable effort in training their sales team, designating time to improve employee morale, and even drilling down on Q&A to improve production. But are you spending time to better prepare your front line, those team members who garner customer judgments, sight unseen? Yes, your receptionist. With a whopping 67% of consumers reporting they have sought services from a different company because of poorly received customer service, it is important to train your receptionist for successful customer encounters. With over 60 years of experience in the call answering industry, our suggestion is to begin with training your receptionist to be a better listener.
As we are all aware, first impressions are lasting. According to a series of Princeton psychological experiments, it takes about 1/10 of a second for someone to develop a first impression opinion about another person. Your visual appearance, body language, and communication skills all play equally vital parts in these split-second judgements.
Unfortunately, your company’s callers don’t have the luxury of utilizing visual cues as part of their impression process when placing a call to your business. Their value judgement of your company is based solely on your receptionist’s ability to present themselves as excellent communicators. In order to expertly communicate, your receptionist must first be a good listener.
“Social media channels handle just 3% of all customer communications. Compare this to the 68% of consumers that get in touch via phone and this should pull your customer service strategy into perspective. While it’s still essential that brands are engaged on social media, Facebook and Twitter are still far from becoming the first channels of choice for consumers.” (Source)
Our training supervisor, Latoya Cole, devotes a large portion of her efforts toward helping our operators to become better listeners. She states that the number one habit she notices—which lowers a person’s ability to listen effectively—is that the operator is not devoting their full attention to the caller. They are either distracted by where to direct the call, what information needs to be completed on a message form, or thinking about the next caller on the line. Her recommendation for combating this counterproductive behavior is to “focus” and “listen to the caller on the line as if they are the most important person in the world to you.”
According to Latoya, there are two simple training messages to teach your receptionist to “live in the moment” of each call:
1) Be an active listener. Always be a full participant in the current conversation in which you are engaged.
2) Be a compassionate listener. Always put yourself in the caller’s shoes.
It is important to recognize that a caller’s first impression of your company generally starts and sometimes ends at your front desk. If your receptionist is not putting their best foot forward, then essentially neither is your company. By training your receptionist to “live in the moment” of each call, it will help them to develop better listening skills. Their improved listening skills will allow them to become better communicators, which will, in turn, improve your customer satisfaction ratings.