3 Ways to Step Up Your Phone Game

Brigham DickinsonJune 2nd, 2016

[Ed. note: Over the next few weeks, our friends at Power Selling Pros will be guest blogging with tips that you and your call-handling team can use to convert more calls to appointments. The first entry in this series is below.]

What is the difference between a good service company, and a wildly successful one?

Attention to detail has a lot to do with it. Many companies assume that their call-handling strategy is fine if they’re making money. But overlooking ways to improve can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in valuable leads and sales.

At Power Selling Pros, we specialize in creating a “WOW Experience” for customers, which helps home service companies improve call conversions and minimize lead loss due to poor call handling quality.

Over the years, we’ve found that there are consistent reasons for low call conversion rates. This is why we created the Pattern for Excellence, a framework for training call-handling teams to capture more inbound calls by creating a WOW Experience for their clients.

The Pattern for Excellence is a series of principles that we have broken down into three sections: establish rapport, build a relationship, and convert with value. Over the next couple of weeks, we will cover the principles within these three sections, which our clients are currently using with great success to WOW more customers and book more calls. Before you can build a relationship with customers, you first have to prove that you are worthy of that relationship. This happens by building rapport. There are three questions you should ask to determine whether your team is headed in the right direction when handling calls.

1. Positive Interpersonal Energy: Is your team’s passion for the work they do electric and contagious?

The first principle found in the Pattern is to be positive. When you are positive, you give energy to others — whereas when you are negative, you take it. Positive energy gives, negative energy drains. How often do you work on how you feel? In other words, how do you make sure you always radiate positive energy over the phone?

You want to make sure you’re actively working to keep your attitude positive so that you are constantly giving energy to others as opposed to taking it. When you are positive in the initial contact, that energy, as long as it is genuine, transfers from you to the client. This positivity can lower defenses and open the door to building a relationship with a potential customer.

When you work on your energy, amazing things happen! Not only will you feel better, but opportunities and new experiences will begin to appear. Plus, you get to help people! Not only can you help them with the services your company provides, but you can also change their day for the better.

Everyone can work on his or her energy. To WOW more customers over the phone, make sure your call-handling team is positive. __

  1. Confidence and Preparation: Is your team prepared to handle even the most challenging calls?__

Think about a client who is hesitant to book your services because of your dispatch fee. With the proper training, you will have practiced handling this kind of pushback long before it happens over the phone. Practice and preparation create the confidence your team needs to delight customers and book more calls.

Why do you get resistance from clients? Because the client is responding to your energy. When you aren’t confident in how you handle every call, it impacts your close rate. For example, if you are unsure and apprehensive, customers will feel unsure about your company. This uncertainty will reflect in their confidence in booking an appointment with you, never mind building a relationship and making the sale.

What are you doing to make sure your team members are constantly working on their game before the phone rings? How often do they practice? Have you ever listened them? How often? Do you evaluate their progress and give your team pointers on how to improve? Practice and preparation will give them confidence. As they gain more confidence, others will be more confident in them. They’ll WOW more customers and book more calls. Be confident.

3. Listen/Become Present First: Does your team remain engaged with the expression, tone, and intent of your clients over the phone?

Imagine you’re speaking to a customer who is really upset. Not at you, just the situation. It’s super hot in her home, the A/C just broke down, and her mother-in-law — who is living with her — keeps complaining about the temperature. You can hear a small child crying in the background. When the customer finishes describing her experience and you respond with, “What’s your address?,” are you really listening to what she just said? How does she know whether you are engaged and listening?

The Familiarity Trap Have you ever heard the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt?” It refers to experiences that become so familiar that we become jaded, or even irritated by them. We begin to take others for granted and do not appreciate them the way we once did.

When the job is new, customer calls are interesting, and it is easy for call handlers to be interested. But after a few hundred thousand calls, you start anticipating similar client questions. You may interrupt them before they finish their thought, providing the anticipated answer so you can speed up the call.

Now you may be saying, “Yeah, but I still get them booked, so why does it matter?”

We have to try to put ourselves in the customers’ shoes. Your goal is to WOW them. How do you do that without being engaged and present to their expression, tone, and intent?

If the client has not dealt with you before, it is a vulnerable position for them to be in. The way they are greeted and treated from the beginning will impact their entire experience, and may determine whether they become a customer. The customer has an emotional need to be heard and understood. That’s why many of them go into so much detail when explaining themselves or their situation. Showing them that you understand by rephrasing what they just said and asking additional questions demonstrates that you are on the same page — that you are truly listening to them. When you take these steps, you’ll see their disposition change. This interaction is how rapport is built. It will seem as if a weight has been lifted from their shoulders and they’ll feel that you get it. Showing you are listening helps the two of you connect — and that connection makes the transaction go much more smoothly because the customer likes you.

So show the customer that you are listening, and that you understand first. By being positive, confident, and sincerely attentive, your call-handling team will be able to establish a strong rapport with your clients over the phone. They’ll WOW more customers, book more calls, and you’ll make more money with a higher call conversion.

We’ll see you in a couple weeks!


* About the Author: Brigham Dickinson runs Power Selling Pros, the company that helps businesses WOW more clients, book more calls, and make more money. To help you get the most out of this series, he has put together a more detailed explanation of each principle along with tips and videos*. Get free access to it now by clicking here.

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