Back to business

Back to business: How the telephone is crucial to your return

May 15, 2020

The phone has been crucial for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. While offices began closing and social distancing measures made normal operations near impossible, the phone helped keep the lines of communication open for companies navigating these huge changes. Now regulations are being reviewed and many employees are preparing to return to work in some way, the phone has a significant part to play in helping companies make sure the transition back to ‘business as usual’ is a smooth one.

Updating your message:

Preparing the caller experience in time for your return to work is essential if you want to start off on the right foot. In the same way updating phone systems with information on remote working and reduced hours has been important over the past few weeks, keeping customers in-the-loop with any changes puts companies at a huge advantage. There’s still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the status of most businesses, and an old message about your closed office could drive customers into not just confusion, but the arms of a competitor.

Businesses should also be using this time as an opportunity to introduce new messaging, instead of returning to previous templates that seem relevant again. Those announcing they’re back in business and addressing Coronavirus concerns are much more likely to earn a caller’s confidence than those who have failed to acknowledge the sensitivities of this time.

As the first thing most callers hear, audio while connecting, Auto-Attendants and Out-of-Hours productions are a perfect way to put this into practice. An updated greeting sets the client’s expectations from the start and puts businesses in the most professional light. Phone systems with the capacity can also direct clients straight to their desired department once updating them – which avoids further delays at an already busy time, and makes for an all-round better caller experience. Leading US dog day care centre – and PHMG client – Camp Bow Wow implemented this type of production, and found it made a big difference to their customers.

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Managing a new influx of calls:

Because phones have been the preferred means of contact amid COVID-19, most companies have been experiencing a much higher volume of calls – and as businesses begin to reopen, this is only set to increase. While that may mean leaving your customers waiting for longer than you’d like, making the right preparations before opening can help you manage this time more effectively.

Introducing audio content to hold or transfer time allows you to deliver informative messages that answer frequently asked questions – creating a clever way to reduce traffic before the client has even been connected. If you have helpful resources online, this is also the perfect time to make people aware.

  • 92% of customers said businesses should continue to advertise during COVID-19 – giving companies the green light to continue promoting products and services, but in a way that’s both relevant and sensitive to the current situation.
  •  While safety is still paramount, you might choose to talk about the processes you’ve put in place to protect staff and clients on your return to work. This will address any existing worries and give callers the confidence to go ahead and resume business with you.
  • A little reassurance goes a long way with callers – and this is where comfort messages can be of use. Acknowledging your callers concerns and reassuring them you’ll be there to help them soon is often all that’s needed.

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Importance of care:

The importance of customer care right now cannot be overstated. With so much uncertainty around, callers are likely to feel more confused than usual – and increased hold times can add to the frustration. That’s why it’s vital we not only focus on providing information while people are on-hold, but deliver it in a way that’s mindful of the mood.

It could be an update on new business hours or information on when clients can expect to have their service fulfilled – to strike the perfect balance, businesses should give just as much consideration to their tone of voice as they do the content of their message. There’s no one right method for every business, but it should remain on-brand in order to avoid alienating callers.

A large insurance firm might use a brief and direct tone, knowing that most of their callers are looking for quick, clear answers – whereas a care home may require a more compassionate and understanding approach. And, for a well-thought-out strategy, the same consideration should go into choosing the voiceover and track that will sit beside it.

Different brands require different approaches – but all businesses should be thinking about how their phone system can help them get back up-and-running in this challenging climate.