How Fast Do You Put Accounts on Service?
Speed Can Be a Strength or a Weakness
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
How long does it take you to put a new client on service? How long should it take? I’m sure you can answer the first question quickly. And I imagine there might be a bit of angst in considering your response to the second one.
In a culture where people don’t want to wait, there’s a pressure to respond quickly when a business wants to use your answering service. But does that pressure to react fast push you to go too quickly?
Consider these scenarios.
Fast Activation: When you have a new client, everyone’s excited. You’re happy for more business, and they’re eager to begin using your answering service right away. You assign their number, and they give you their information. So, let’s go!
Many answering services strive to put new clients on fast. Sometimes they’re even answering calls before all the information has been entered. At times staff can answer a new client without first reviewing it and not being able to see the details they need to serve them well. Other times they can’t. In the push for fast activations, attention to detail and quality may suffer.
Some answering services are too fast in adding new accounts. In their pursuit of speed, they sacrifice quality. Do you want your first impression with a new client to revolve around an error caused by going too fast?
Methodical Training: To counter the downsides of a fast-activation strategy, other answering services carefully program the account, review and test the information, and train staff. This can take days, even a week or more. But will the client tolerate waiting so long? Remember, they’re impatient. They said, “Yes,” to your sales offer, so they should be good to go. You painted a great picture for the quality you provide, and they don’t realize that good things take time.
Some answering services are too slow in putting on accounts. The result is a delay that fails to impress your client. Is that how you want to begin your business relationship?
Just Right: There’s a middle ground that balances speed with attention to detail. What is it? One hour? By the end of the day? Within twenty-four hours?
There’s no right answer, but the solution is left for you to determine. Find a balance between going fast and being thorough. But don’t accept the status quo, either. Continually ask yourselves, “How can we improve?” Seek ways to do things both faster and better. But never sacrifice one in pursuit of the other.
TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at email@example.com.
Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coping Effectively with Clients Who Behave Badly
By Kate Zabriskie
As providers trying to deliver a great experience to clients, answering services need to identify what they want and don’t want their clients to do and pinpoint what people and processes they can put in place to realize the desired results.
Take these steps to obtain better results.
Audit: Experience your business from your clients’ vantage. You need to understand what happens to them before you can encourage or discourage behaviors.
Encourage What You Want: Next, identify the actions you want your clients to take, and put people and processes in place to encourage those behaviors. Do you and your staff model this behavior yourself?
Invite Clients to Participate in the Process: Like anyone else, most clients are more willing to help you reach your service goals if you remind them of the mutual benefit of lending a hand. Let folks know what they can do to aid the common cause, and make it easy for them to do it.
Discourage What You Don’t Want: Beyond communicating your desired end and encouraging clients to participate in achieving it, you need to ensure that you and your staff are not working against yourselves by inadvertent enablement.
Create Alternatives: Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, clients continue to behave in ways you don’t like. While it’s not always possible to creatively accommodate these people, often it is. Whatever the solution, it should never berate clients or accuse them. Instead, keep the message positive.
Left up to chance, you get what you get from clients, but with an understanding of your clients’ experience and by making deliberate choices, you can influence how people behave.
Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.
Telephone Answering Service News
Amtelco Introduces Tools to Ease Upgrades to IS and Genesis Platforms: Amtelco updated their Intelligent Series Transformer data portability utility. The Intelligent Series (IS) Transformer is a set of tools that transfer information from external sources to the IS database and from the IS database to external destinations. Each transformer tool runs in its own window within the IS supervisor application. The transformer tools are packaged in two optional features: IS Transformer Directory/Data and IS Transformer Client/Agent. For more information on IS Transformer, contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148, email@example.com, or visit callcenter.amtelco.com.
Alex Karanau Joins Call 4 Health as CIO: Call 4 Health hired Alex Karanau as their new chief information officer. With fifteen years of IT experience, including system administration, software engineering, and management, Alex provides leadership for an innovative, efficient, and secure IT environment at Call 4 Health. Prior to joining Call 4 Health, Alex worked as a consultant for small to medium size businesses and was a technical lead for numerous projects in a multibillion-dollar hospitality-company. Alex graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and maintains certifications from leading IT providers.
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Quotes for the Month
“People forget years and remember moments.” -Ann Beattie
“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.” -Arthur Rubinstein
“A will is a dead giveaway.” -unknown