27 Jul How to win new clients with telephone calls
How often have you heard someone say ‘I’ll just answer the phone’? There is no ‘just’ about it though. For any business, it offers a pivotal opportunity to convert callers into clients, especially for veterinary practices where excellent customer service is so crucial.
Of course, in a busy reception with a long list of administrative tasks to juggle alongside the needs of pets and their owners, it’s easy to forget the importance each call could have and lose sight of the bigger picture. As the first impression a potential client will often have of your practice, however, presenting it in the best possible light is essential; and the skill involved shouldn’t be underestimated.
The aim is to ensure each caller feels like they are speaking to ‘the’ leading practice in their area. To convey that their pet will receive the best possible care in your hands. That you are professional, compassionate and committed to high standards at all times. The same as if they were to visit your website or step foot into your reception. Always have in the back of your mind that the goal of any call is to wow callers – be it an existing client or a new enquiry – and consequently increase client numbers to help your practice grow.
Choose the right team
Firstly, look at who is representing your practice. For some people the drive and ability to provide exceptional service is innate. It’s like they’re born with a magical ‘can-do’ approach to life and make everything a little better and brighter. These people are worth their weight in gold and will naturally transform callers into patients –as well as keep them happy in the long run. In contrast, those without this natural passion for people could be losing opportunities before they’ve even finished their conversation. It’s important, for these reasons, to make sure everyone who is answering the phone understands how precious an enquiry is. Moreover, accept that no matter how well you think the service is, there’s always room for improvement. We are continually looking for ways to enhance the service that we offer here at Moneypenny and last year invited Geoff Ramm, renowned customer service and marketing speaker, to come and inspire our 600-strong team. While here he raised the question: do you treat every customer in the same way we would if an A-list celebrity, say, Brad Pitt, was on the phone? Ask yourself this same question. The answer for most people, if they are honest, is probably not and often without even realising it. Applying this mindset to every call, however, can focus your approach to what excellent service honestly looks like and set the bar high.
Take the lead
A few years ago there was a story in the papers reporting that airline passengers felt more reassured flying with pilots who had a ‘posh’ accent. Why? It instilled them with confidence in the pilot apparently, which in turn developed into trust. Funnily, this illustrates an important point to consider when it comes to winning new business over the phone – but forget about having to be posh. It’s not about the accent. It’s about being confident. Confidence is infectious, and countless studies have shown that it is a critical element in converting potential customers into real customers. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve called a company and been told ‘we’ll try’ or ‘if we can’ and have put the phone down feeling unconvinced in their abilities. Usually, I’m proven right. It’s up to us, as the business, to convince callers that we CAN be trusted and displaying the right telephone manner is essential. Be polite, efficient, professional and assured, and let them know that you’re listening. Subtle changes to your language can also help. Saying ‘when we see you’ or ‘when we treat you’ for example, rather than ‘if we were to treat you’. By taking the lead and setting the tone of the call with positive and affirming language, you are reassuring callers that their custom is important to you and that you ready to start working with them right away.
Capture their heart
You may be familiar with the famous quote from American civil rights activist Maya Angela: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’. For me, this sums up perfectly the power that great customer service can have. It also demonstrates the potential that veterinary practices who excel in this aspect have to be one (giant) step ahead of their competitors. The key is putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think about what would impress you if you called a practice for the first time. Take a genuine interest in the caller. If they are upset, sympathise with them and tell them that you’re sorry they’re feeling that way. If they are calling because they’re unhappy with the current practice, lend an understanding ear and provide the reassurance that they need. The aim is to establish a connection and develop a relationship that you can nurture and build on in the future. Remember that you are speaking to a real person too. No one wants to feel like he or she are being spoken to from a script; especially when it comes to discussing a much-loved pet. It’s this personal connection that will ultimately turn leads into lifelong customers.
By Stephanie Vaughan-Jones, Commercial Manager at telephone answering specialist Moneypenny.