When customers call your business, what do they hear? A message stating your hours and asking them to leave voicemail? Outdated hold music?
Some business owners see setting up greetings and phone menus as a chore, rather than a key part of their service or brand promotion. Hold music and menu settings are often added to the phone system ad hoc as the company slowly grows, and the call experience evolves into something inefficient but predictable—customers are used to calling a store and hearing a standard blurb before being placed on hold.
Yet as younger workers and consumers enter the marketplace, this is changing. According to a recent report by Software Advice, millennials have much higher expectations on the quality of service they receive when calling a business. They like interactions to be quick and productive, and are frustrated when automated phone trees lead nowhere or don’t function as expected.
Software Advice surveyed millennials, who typically fall into the 16 to 35 year-old age group, about their phone interactions with small businesses to identify which factors create negative or positive feelings about a brand. Since millennials currently outnumber baby boomers (51 to 69 year olds) as the largest generation group in the United States, building good customer experiences and positive brand impressions through the quality of your phone system is more important than ever.
Here are five key findings of the survey, along with a few things you can do to optimize your business phone system.
1. Set your Outgoing Caller ID!
No one likes to answer a call from a phone number they don’t recognize. Time is valuable and one third of millennials identified a resistance to answering a call from an unknown number.
Small businesses can avoid this by setting their outgoing caller ID setting to something customers will recognize. Your clients are far more likely to answer a call from Flowers by Design than from a mystery phone number.
2. Use Extensions and Smart Calling Queues
Another 16 percent of survey participants identified their phone calls being routed to the wrong employees, and being routed to lines with consistently busy signals, as the two top frustrations they had making calls to small businesses. Again, millennials don’t like to waste time.
This is where making sure you have phone extensions set up correctly for all staff, and having those extensions properly sequenced in an efficient calling queue, is key. The fine settings in your call handling rules are also important. How many times will an extension ring before the call is passed to the next person in the queue? If your sales manager is out and can’t answer her phone, do her calls promptly ring through to her assistant?
3. Have Customer Info at Your Fingertips
Millennials whose perceptions are negatively influenced by phone experiences say a top issue is employees taking too long to find their information. When customers get through to you, how quick are your agents and systems at retrieving account information?
This may have little to do with your actual phone service, but we strongly encourage you to use a business phone provider that integrates well with your CRM, making it easier for staff to access client data. For more information, see how Phone.com service integrates with popular CRMs like Salesforce, Zoho CRM, Sugar CRM and many others.
4. Let Your Customers Dial by Name
Try calling a business looking for that one sales person with whom you hammered out a deal or discussed a complicated transaction history, and then you reach an automated phone tree, asking you for an extension number. Oh, the frustration!
Twenty-eight percent of Software Advice’s survey respondents cited the inability to reach employees by name as the top issue that lead to a negative phone experience. This is easy to avoid if your phone service offers a Dial-by-Name function. Callers enter the first few letters of your employee’s name to connect directly to them!
5. Keep Those Greetings Groovy
Unlike the outdated term groovy, keep your menu and voicemail greetings fresh, relevant and effective! Nearly 25 percent of survey respondents whose perceptions were positively influenced by phone interactions considered the quality of an auto-attendant greeting as the most influential factor.
What does this mean for you, the business owner?
- Have an efficient, friendly auto-attendant greeting that represents your business well. Twenty-seven percent of millennials say custom voicemail greetings create positive brand impressions.
- Making sure the menu and queue settings presented in your auto-assistant message are up to date and provide options to transfer to another agent or leave voicemail.
- Making use of schedule settings to ensure your customers have options, even after hours.
- Setting up voicemail-to-email or text notifications so that customers get a speedy response!
Keeping Your Brand Polished
Making sure that your greetings are engaging, and that menu settings and call-handling rules are up to date and effective, will keep your customers’ experiences with your business positive. Setting up regular maintenance procedures on your phone system will ensure that the messages and options you provide meet your customers’ needs exactly.
What challenges have you had keeping your phone system up to date? Do you have any questions on how to simplify your system? We’d love to hear from you.