Did you know that up to 85% of customers won’t call back if their first call goes unanswered?

That’s eight in every ten missed calls, on average, you’re never getting back.

That’s a huge chunk of potential business walking out the door – just because no one picked up the phone! It’s not just about losing a call; it’s about losing a customer… and the revenue they bring.

So, the question isn’t whether you should answer the phone, but how. There are options, and choosing the right one for your business can boost your customer experience and your bottom line.

Let’s get into everything you need to.

The Power of the First Impression

A woman is sitting at a desk with a laptop, looking at her smartphone and smiling.

We know that missing business calls is a huge blow to your business, but this raises a consideration that a lot of businesses overlook until it’s too late.

Who’s answering the phone?

Think of your company’s phone line as its smile.

That first “hello” is a chance to make a fantastic first impression. Is the voice answering your phone warm and helpful, or is it leaving callers feeling frustrated before they even get started?

Choosing the right person (or service) to answer your business calls is more important than you think. It sends a powerful message about your company – that you’re professional, organized, and customer-focused.

They can help give your company that friendly, capable voice – one that makes every caller feel valued.

Why Prioritize Live Real-Time Answers

A young man is smiling while wearing a headset, appearing to be in a customer service role.

Okay, maybe you’re thinking, “Can’t I just let calls go to voicemail or have people email us instead?” Sure, you could, but think about how most of us operate nowadays. We want answers fast. Here’s why live, real-time phone support is so important:

Customer Expectations

We live in the age of instant gratification. Customers want answers now, and they want to feel like their needs are a priority. A friendly voice answering your phone immediately shows you care about their time and that you’re ready to help them.

Remember, every caller is a person who wants to feel understood. A real, live human on the line delivers that reassurance better than any automated message could.

Competitive Edge

Don’t underestimate the power of human connection in a digital world. While everyone else relies on chatbots and automated menus, a friendly voice answering your calls can become a major selling point.

Think about it: If customers get stuck in phone-tree hell with your competitors, but a real person always picks up for your business, who do you think they’ll remember?

Live answers show customers you care enough to invest in their experience – something that can’t be faked with automation.

Building Trust

When a real person answers your phone, it sends a message that your company is reliable. It builds trust from that very first “hello.”

Customers know there’s someone there to listen to help them find the solution they need. That kind of connection is priceless, and it’s the kind of thing that fosters long-term customer loyalty.

Who Should Answer? (And Who Shouldn’t)

A baby girl wearing a headset, looking curious and amused.

You might think, “Hey, we’ll just have whoever’s free grab the phone!” While it seems efficient, that can actually backfire. Here’s why:

  • Inconsistent Experience: If the person answering isn’t trained for customer calls, the whole interaction can feel unprofessional or confusing. This doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in your business.
  • Caught Off Guard: Even your best employees might not have the correct answers at the ready. This can lead to frustration for the caller and the unprepared staff member.

Options and Considerations

Okay, so we know that grabbing the phone at random isn’t the best solution. But what is? Luckily, you’ve got choices. Let’s break down some of the pros and cons of different approaches to make sure your business gets the right kind of phone support.

Business Owner

If you’re a solopreneur or running a very small business, you might think handling the phones yourself is the way to go. After all, who knows your business better than you? Let’s weigh the pros and cons of this approach.

Pros

  • Show You Care: Answering your own calls tells customers you’re invested in their experience. People love to speak to the owner because they believe they’re getting the best and most valued service.
  • Nobody Knows It Better: You have all the answers, especially when it comes to the nitty-gritty details of your products and services.

Cons

  • Time Is Money: Fielding calls can take you away from actually running your business. The chances are you’re already wearing enough hats as it is.
  • Hard to Scale: As your business grows, can you really answer every call and tackle everything else?

Best For: This might work in the very early stages, but for most businesses, it’s not a sustainable long-term solution.

Dedicated Receptionist

Hiring in-house ensures your calls are handled by someone who’s sole focus is providing top-notch customer service. But before you start posting job listings, let’s explore both the benefits and the potential drawbacks of this choice.

Pros

  • Consistency: A dedicated receptionist delivers the same friendly and professional experience with every call.
  • Brand Image: You can train them to perfectly represent your company’s voice and values.

Cons

  • Expense: Salary, benefits, and office space for an additional employee can add up quickly.
  • Capacity Issues: What happens if they’re sick, on vacation, or overwhelmed with calls at peak times?

Rotating Among Staff

Spreading out the responsibility of answering the phone might seem like a way to avoid hiring costs. But before you start making a call schedule, it’s important to understand the trade-offs involved.

Pros

  • Team Effort: No single person is overwhelmed with phone duties.
  • Voice Variety: Callers get to interact with different members of your team.

Cons

  • Inconsistency: Not everyone will have the same level of customer service skills or knowledge.
  • Productivity Hit: Every phone call disrupts your employees’ other work, impacting their overall efficiency.

Best For: This option really only works on a limited basis for very small teams. The larger your business gets or the more frequently the phone rings, the more this approach becomes disruptive.

Customer Service Reps

Building a team dedicated to customer support is a great way to ensure callers get the help they need. But, it’s important to be realistic about the investment involved.

Pros

  • Experts at the Ready: Customer service reps have in-depth product knowledge and are trained to resolve issues quickly.
  • Immediate Support: They can handle everything from basic questions to complex troubleshooting, leaving customers satisfied

Cons

  • Cost: Salaries, benefits, and potentially even a dedicated workspace make this a significant investment.
  • Limited Hours: Unless you’re a large company offering 24/7 support, there will likely be times when calls go unanswered.

Best For: Businesses with a high volume of calls or complex customer support needs will see the most benefit from a dedicated team. It’s less practical for smaller businesses or those with predictable periods of low call volume.

Answering Service (e.g., CMS)

Partnering with an answering service provides your business with a team of professionals dedicated to handling your calls. 

Think of it as an extension of your company, ready to provide support whenever you need it. It allows you to provide the highest-quality service, essentially through automation.

Pros

  • Always On: They offer 24/7 coverage, so you never miss an opportunity to connect with a customer.
  • Tailored Solutions: Many services can customize their responses and even integrate with your existing business software.
  • Brand Consistency: They work with you to learn your company’s voice, ensuring a seamless customer experience.

Cons

  • Training Curve: It takes time to get them up to speed on your specific products, services, and procedures. However, a professional service will know how to speed this up.

Best For: Businesses of all sizes can benefit from an answering service, especially if you need coverage outside of business hours, experience high call volumes, or see fluctuations in call volume throughout the year.

Wrapping Up: Choosing the Right Approach

There’s no single “best” way to answer your business phone. It’s about finding the solution that strikes the right balance for your unique needs. Consider these factors as you make your decision:

  • Call Volume: How many calls do you get in a typical day or week?
  • Customer Expectations: How immediate of a response do your customers expect? (90% expect an immediate one)
  • Budget: What resources do you have to invest in phone support? Customer service is everything, so this should be a priority.
  • Scalability: Will your chosen method work as your business grows?

What are the Ideal Qualities of the “Right Voice”?

 A close-up of a person's hand cupping their ear, indicating they are listening closely.

Okay, let’s say you want to get someone in-house to start answering your phones to see how it goes. How can you create a truly phenomenal phone interaction with a business – the kind that leaves you feeling valued and satisfied long after hanging up?

It all comes down to finding the person with the “right voice,” someone who possesses a combination of qualities that transform routine calls into memorable experiences. Let’s break down what sets a great phone voice apart from an average one:

Strong Communication

Clear and concise communication is the foundation of excellent phone service. Avoid mumbling, speak at a measured pace, and choose vocabulary that’s easy for anyone to understand.

Couple this clarity with a friendly, welcoming tone, as if the person on the other end is genuinely glad you called.

Beyond speaking well, it’s also about active listening. Take the time to summarize concerns, ask questions for clarification, and demonstrate that you’re fully engaged and committed to helping.

Knowledge

Deep understanding of your company’s products, services, and policies empowers the person answering the phone to provide accurate and helpful information.

Whether it’s explaining the nuances of different pricing plans or knowing how to troubleshoot common issues, a knowledgeable voice builds caller confidence.

Additionally, familiarity with company-specific procedures, such as return policies or operating hours, streamlines the process for the customer and eliminates frustration.

Problem-Solving

The best customer service representatives are solution-oriented. They can think on their feet, adapt to unexpected inquiries, and get resourceful when necessary.

This might mean finding information quickly using internal databases, identifying the best person to handle a complex issue, or taking ownership of a customer’s problem even when a resolution isn’t immediate.

That dedication to finding solutions fosters trust and loyalty.

Positive Attitude

A genuine, upbeat demeanor can transform even the most routine call into a pleasant experience.

Even when handling a difficult customer, maintaining a positive attitude can help de-escalate the situation and leave a favorable lasting impression.

Alongside positivity, demonstrate patience. Remember, each caller learns and communicates differently, and taking the time to ensure everyone is on the same page reflects a focus on customer care.

Finding That Perfect Voice

Whether you’re hiring an in-house representative, training an existing employee, or partnering with an answering service, prioritize these qualities. Find someone who not only sounds polite but embodies the spirit of your business.

The right voice on the phone has the power to cement your company’s reputation with each and every call, building strong customer relationships.

Beyond the Human Voice: When Automation is Useful

A robot hand and a human hand are touching a digital screen, symbolizing interaction between humans and robots.

While a friendly, capable human voice is ideal, there are times when automated systems can play a valuable role in your phone support strategy. Let’s explore some scenarios where the right automation tools can be both efficient for your business and convenient for your customers:

Off-Hours Routing

Just because your office is closed doesn’t mean you can’t be there for customers. Voicemail and call forwarding ensure that every call is acknowledged, even if you can’t answer live.

This lets you capture messages and prioritize responses the next business day, maintaining a 24/7 connection with your customers.

Simple FAQs

Sometimes, callers need quick answers to basic questions (like your operating hours or return policy).

A well-designed phone menu system can provide these answers instantly, saving both your customers and your team valuable time. This lets your live representatives focus on those complex issues that actually require a human touch.

Call-Back Technology

Nobody likes being stuck on hold. Call-back technology allows customers to leave their number and receive a return call when an agent is available.

This approach not only improves wait time for customers but also shows that you respect their time. It’s a win-win that reduces frustration and makes your business seem more responsive.

Important Note: Automation works best when it complements human support, not replaces it. Make sure callers always have a clear path to speak with a real person if their needs go beyond what a menu system can handle!

Tips for Success

You’ve got the right voice on the phone and a plan for when to use automation. But how do you take your business phone support to the next level? Success isn’t just about the strategy. Let’s dive into some practical tips that will help you refine your communication, use technology effectively, and always be looking for ways to improve.

Phone Etiquette Training: Developing Guidelines or Scripts for Varied Staff

Great phone support isn’t just about who answers, it’s about how they answer. Training is essential, especially if you have multiple people handling calls. Here’s how to get everyone on the same page:

  • Build a Blueprint: Don’t leave it up to chance! Create a training guide with clear etiquette standards (greeting, tone, etc.) Include sample scripts for everyday situations (taking a message, answering basic questions, etc.).
  • Find the Balance: While scripts are helpful, you don’t want your team to sound like robots. Encourage them to inject their personality within those professional guidelines.
  • Adapt and Improve: Gather feedback. What call situations do staff find tricky? Update your training materials regularly to address new challenges and ensure your team feels confident on every call.

Investing time in phone etiquette training pays off. It ensures a consistent, positive experience for your callers and builds confidence in your team.

Call Monitoring: Utilizing Call Review for Performance Improvement

Think of call monitoring as your secret weapon for improving customer service. It’s not about catching people doing things wrong but about helping everyone do things even better! Here’s how to make it work:

  • Get the Tech: Whether it’s a call recording feature built into your phone system or a dedicated software, make sure you have a way to review calls easily.
  • Set Expectations: Be transparent with your team about why you’re monitoring calls. Emphasize that this is a tool for growth, not punishment.
  • Focus on the Positive: Don’t just highlight mistakes! Celebrate when employees handle a tricky call with grace or go the extra mile for a customer.
  • Make It a Conversation: One-on-one coaching sessions based on call reviews are most effective. Focus on specific examples and work together to find solutions.

Call monitoring shouldn’t feel scary. Done right, it builds a team that’s constantly learning and improving, which directly benefits your customers.

Technology Matters: Investing in Robust Systems That Support Operational Needs

The right technology isn’t just about making your team’s life easier (though it definitely does that!). It’s about giving your customers the best possible experience. Here’s how to make smart tech choices for your phone support:

  • Think Long-Term: Choose a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that can grow with your business. Look for flexibility in features and integrations as your needs evolve.
  • Enhance the Experience: Could smarter call routing be used to get customers to the right person faster? Could detailed analytics help you identify common pain points? Explore tech that directly improves things for your callers.
  • Stay Up-to-Date: Don’t let your tech get stale! Regularly review your tools. Maybe there’s a new feature you’re not using or an upgrade that unlocks new capabilities for your team.

Investing in the right technology isn’t just an expense; it’s an investment in customer satisfaction. The right tools make your team more efficient and provide insights to improve the entire caller journey.

Conclusion

Your phone line is a vital connection to your customers. Don’t leave their first impression to chance!

Whether it’s hiring the perfect in-house receptionist, training your existing team, partnering with an answering service, or strategically leveraging automation – the choices you make about phone support have a direct impact on your business’s success.

On top of this, it’s not a one-and-done decision! As your business grows and customer expectations shift, be prepared to revisit your phone strategy.

Regularly evaluate what’s working, what could be better, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Ready to level up your phone support? 

If you want to streamline, professionalize, and get more out of every call, consider partnering with a company like CMS.

Our customizable solutions can help you deliver a customer experience that builds trust and turns first-time callers into lifelong customers.

Check us out today to get started.

By Last Updated: May 13, 2024Categories: Blog14.1 min read