5 Ways To Instantly Improve Your Customers’ Phone Experience

Brian Kidder

It’s a different world getting to call dozens and dozens of dealerships each day. Vendors get to hear the many different ways dealerships handle their inbound calls, and they range from instant phone tree, to having a real live human being answer, to sometimes even having the phone ring incessantly. Phone etiquette and phone acumen are far less common than one would expect, given that the vast majority of customers call before they come in when considering a purchase.

“Treat every call as an event. Connect with the purpose of the call.

Here are several of the worst, easily-fixed offenses:

 

  1. Low Energy. The phone automatically diminishes your voice and personality. When we’re face to face, the other person can see your expressions, hear your tonality and inflection, and it all works together to communicate your message. But you’re handicapped on the phone. There are no visual cues. This means you have to augment the signals you do have to work with. It’s ok to be animated. It’s ok to gesture. It’s ok to vary your volume, tone and inflection a lot more than you might if you’re talking face to face. These help to convey your energy to the customer through the phone, and if that energy is low to begin with, that’s a problem. Take the first 5-10 seconds (no more) and place them on a brief hold. Get your head in the game. It’s go time. Treat every call as an event. Connect with the purpose of the call. Move. Get energized. Put a big smile on your face, and go.

2. Long Hold/Dead Air Times. Even with the best on hold music, nobody nowadays wants to hold for longer than a very few seconds. Know your inventory. Get quick with your CRM. But most of all, keep a few open-ended questions on hand to get the customer talking while you look up information. “What do you like most about the Tacoma?” “Why do you like the Expedition?” What makes this something you could see yourself driving?” Not only are you filling the uncomfortable dead space, you are also getting the customer to tell you some of what’s important to them, what language patterns to feed back to them, and how to match their tonality and intonation for better rapport. Get them talking, so you can listen.        

“Keep a few open-ended questions on hand to get the customer talking while you     look up information.”

“Patience is now less of a virtue, and more an irrational tolerance for the wasting of time.”

3. Bouncing callers from department to department. Our attention spans have been shrunk by digital technology. We want things now. Patience is now less of a virtue, and more an irrational tolerance for the wasting of time. Don’t expect your customers to be patient. Your team must be more professional on the phones. You have 20-30 seconds to connect them to someone who can help them, and have them be in roughly the same state as when they called.

 

4. You have no hold music/you have your router’s stock hold music.

People will hold at least a bit longer and more patiently when they like what they’re hearing. Nobody likes dead air, and keeping the standard digital effects some kid made and licensed for free to your router manufacturer is just weak game. Come on, man! Be better.

“Keep a few open-ended questions on hand to get the customer talking while you look up information.”

“Having a simple set of rules for phone use would take many dealerships miles down the road.”

5. Overly long-winded things receptionists are required to say.

Good morning, Jacobsen’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, haircare and tire center, home of the lifetime free oil change and free hot dog! Were you calling about a flyer you got in the mail?” Please, for all of us, just stop this practice. Be conversational. “Good morning, Jacobsen’s! How can I help you?” does just fine, and doesn’t awkwardly make people think ‘wow they make her say all that every time…’

Obviously, there are other, more operative techniques to be used over the phones, but having a simple set of rules for phone use (Always smile. 10 seconds max hold time. Everyone consistently trained on phone use) would take many dealerships miles down the road. Anyone who calls our offices knows instantly that the game has been elevated. They should get that impression when they call your store, too.