Small Changes, Big Results: 3 Tips for Better Phone Calls

Posted by Kristine McManus

February 15, 2017 at 1:30 PM

tips for better phone callsRecently, I had a conversation with an advisor that got me thinking about the importance of seizing everyday opportunities. In my experience, too many advisors wait for the right moment to make a big change that will transform their practice. Unfortunately, big opportunities don’t come along that often. A better strategy is to make the most of the small opportunities that come your way all the time. With that in mind, I’ve decided to write a few posts focusing on little things you can do to achieve big results. They don’t require additional staff or resources, but they do require a willingness to try something new.

Let’s start with something we’re all familiar with: the telephone. The telephone can be a friend or foe; it just depends on how you use it. I want you to consider the phone as your friend and to think about how to use it strategically. Here, I’ll offer you three tips for better phone calls that will help you maximize your communication on a daily basis.

1) Support Your Brand

Many offices have a dedicated person who answers the line, others use a phone matrix system with prompts, while some advisors answer their own phones. I talk to advisors all the time, and what I’ve noticed is a disconnect between how some offices answer the phone and the brand they’re trying to convey. For example, a telephone prompt system (press 1 for Advisor X, press 2 for Advisor Y) may not be appropriate if you claim to have high-touch service or offer personal attention. Why give a prospect a reason to doubt you from the very first phone call?

If you decide that staff will be responsible for incoming calls, it’s a good idea to have a script written out that clearly conveys how the phone should be answered. Are you casual and friendly, in which case an informal greeting might work, or are you a bit more formal? You should also think about the intangibles, such as tone of voice and attitude. Do clients sense a smile from your receptionist’s voice, or do they feel rushed off the phone? These small cues can make a big difference in how clients perceive their experience of working with you.

Finally, be sure to listen in and hear what happens when a caller is put on hold. What music plays in the background? As this is another way to convey your brand, you probably don’t want to have punk rock blasting—unless you think your ideal clients would enjoy listening to it—or have clients hear “Baby Got Back” when they're not expecting it. (Both of which have happened to me, by the way!)

2) Move Your Business Forward

Ideally, the seeds of a referral should be sown before the caller gets off the phone. There are lots of ways to get more impact here, so let’s look at a typical exchange that takes place when a client needs assistance.

Client: Thanks so much for putting a rush on that check last week. We were leaving for vacation, and I needed that done before I left.

Staff: It was our pleasure.

Most advisors would be happy to leave it right there: The client feels satisfied and the staffer was polite. But what if your staff person had been trained on what to say and gave a different reply that could move your business forward?

Client: Thanks so much for putting a rush on that check last week. We were leaving for vacation, and I needed that done before I left.

Staff: I’m pleased that I could help you! Small business owners are the hardest working people I know, and I’m so glad you were able to get away for a few days. I actually read somewhere that small businesses employ more people than all the Fortune 500 companies combined, so it’s a wonderful thing you do. [Advisor name] and I just love working with business owners like yourself. Did you enjoy your trip?

Can you see how the advisor’s impact is dramatically increased in the second exchange, offering opportunities? Specifically, the client gets off the phone feeling valued and appreciated and likely takes away that her advisor really loves working with business owners. That’s how referrals happen. So if you haven’t discussed phone skills with your staff within the past year, put it on the agenda for the next staff meeting!

3) Make Random Calls of Kindness

If you show that you value your clients—even through a simple call—your relationships will prosper and your business will thrive. Here's just one example: An advisor I know makes a plan to telephone 10 to 12 clients every week and books his calendar accordingly. He calls just to say hello, to ask about their families, or to share a funny story he’s heard. There’s no agenda other than making a personal connection, and his clients are pleased their advisor just likes to talk to them. If no one answers, he leaves a brief message to let clients know he was thinking about them. The advisor says that these calls are one of the primary reasons he’s been able to grow his business.

Are You Ready to Talk?

These simple ideas to gain more impact from the everyday phone call can be easily implemented in just about every practice. Which will you decide to try? Make that call today—and be sure to let me know the results you achieve. By changing just a few simple things in your practice, you could be on your way to your best year yet.

Can you recommend other tips for enhancing your everyday phone calls? Do you provide your staff members with a script? Please share your thoughts with us below!

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