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Five Keys to UNFORGETTABLE Phone Service


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In 2006, a study of 2,300 British consumers conducted by Harris Interactive revealed the general public's frustration with poor phone service. According to their research, 65% of consumers withdrew their business due to poor service experiences.


Well, it’s 2007. How many customers are you going to lose from poor phone service this year?

Hopefully, zip. But let’s explore five keys to UNFORGETTABLE phone service just to make sure.

UNFORGETTABLE Openers Customers will form an impression of you – and your company - within the first few seconds of their phone call. That’s why the first words out of your mouth are absolutely crucial.

What’s your present opening line? “Hello?” “Good morning?” Or is it some other boring, corporate handbook greeting that fades into the unmemorable multitude of every other phone call your customer will make that day?

FACT: phone greetings are opportunities to make the mundane memorable. To make the customer on the other line smile before she even asks you a question. You must project positivity, uniqueness and approachability within seconds. You can do better can “Hello?”

PERFECT EXAMPLE: for years, I’ve been answering my phone the same way: “HELLO, my name is Scott!” It’s nothing fancy, but nobody else uses it. And that’s the key. It’s fun, quick and usually gets a laugh 90% of the time. More importantly, those five words also happen to be the name of my company, the title of one of my books and the essence of my branding.

LET ME ASK YA THIS… Are your first few seconds UNFORGETTABLE?

UNFORGETTABLE Callers OK, now let’s switch roles. You’re the caller. Making an important sales call to the VP of Marketing. And her assistant prompts you with the ever popular, “May I ask who’s calling?”

When you hear those beautiful five words, you should get excited. Why?

FACT: this is (yet another) two second opportunity to make the mundane memorable and project your uniqueness to someone new.

PERFECT EXAMPLE: “Yes. Tell Mrs. Freidman that it’s The Nametag Guy,” I usually say.

In most cases, three things happen next: 1) The gatekeeper chuckles and transfers me, 2) The entire company hears over the loud speaker, “Mrs. Friedman, you have The Nametag Guy holding on line 7,” and 3) The person I’ve called picks up the phone (already laughing) and says, “Hi Scott!”


LET ME ASK YA THIS… Do you have the balls to say something other than your name?

UNFORGETTABLE Waiting When I was working at the Ritz Carlton, the phone light would start blinking rapidly after thirty seconds of hold time. If an employee was in the area and didn’t pick up the phone to assist the guest, he was written up.

Sure, it was harsh. But you better believe we picked up every call within thirty seconds! Dominoes would have been proud.

Look. Hold time is still a tough issue. I’m not going to get into the technical side of it, i.e., on-hold jazz music, advertisements, wait time and the like. However:

FACT: callers become more frustrated with every passing second.


PERFECT EXAMPLE: my friend Dave is a pro at lessening hold time. Whenever he has another call or needs to put me on hold, he doesn’t say, “Can I put you on hold?” or “Would you mind holding for a minute?” Instead, Dave says, “Scott, do me a favor: count to ten and I’ll be right back!”

I still count every time. And Dave almost always comes back as promised.

LET ME ASK YA THIS… What words could you use to make hold time more fun and engaging?

UNFORGETTABLE What? In 2006, RainToday released a scintillating study called How Clients Buy: The Benchmark Report On Professional Services Marketing And Selling From The Client Perspective.

The study gathered data from nearly 200 decision makers nationwide who purchased $1.6 billion in professional services. They were asked about their biggest pet peeves when working with service providers.

And the winner went to (drum roll please)...

“They didn’t listen to me.”

FACT: when it comes to the phone, you must remember these three things:

1. Listening is not waiting to talk. 2. You have two ears and one mouth. Listen and speak proportionately. 3. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

PERFECT EXAMPLES: here’s a sample of several Phrases That Payses™ to use during your conversations. NOTE: I suggest writing them on sticky notes and posting them above your phone:

*Excuse my annoying typing; I just want to get all this stuff down! Similar to the above example. Polite, humorous way to subtlety demonstrate active listening while on the phone.

*I am at your service. Not just for customer service professionals any more, but for everyone! All business professionals are at the service of somebody, be it their customers or coworkers. Say this phrase to reassure your client that you’ve got their back. Remind them that they can ask anything of you.

*Personally. A single word with amazing power. For example, “Mr. Sanders, I will take care of your incorrect order,” vs. “Mr. Sanders, I will PERSONALLY take care of your incorrect order.” You’ve committed. You’ve made it personal. You’ve instilled confidence in Mr. Sanders that you’re accountable for the mistake, even if it wasn’t your fault. Use this word daily.

LET ME ASK YA THIS… Are you growing bigger ears with every call?

UNFORGETTABLE Attitde More than anything we’ve talked about today, your attitude is what most determines the success of every phone call. Let’s explore two examples: smiling and emotion.

First of all, I don’t need to waste your time talking about the value, the power and the necessity of smiling. You should know that already. However:

FACT: the customer will HEAR your smile over the phone.

PERFECT EXAMPLE: the best piece of advice I ever got on phone service was to buy a little mirror and stick it above my phone. Forced me to smile every time! I suggest you try this for one week.

The next facet of an UNFORGETTABLE Phone Attitude is emotion. If you want to watch a classic movie on phone service, check out Boiler Room. My favorite scene is when the office manager (Ben Affleck) preaches to his neophyte stockbrokers how to connect with prospects during cold calls:

“Get your ass out of the chair! Walk around! Motion creates e-motion!” he yells.

Great point, Ben. In other words:

Motion = Emotion = Enthusiasm = Approachability = UNFORGETTABLE Service

LET ME ASK YA THIS… Would you want to talk to you over the phone?

Whether you’re answering, chatting, listening or putting someone on hold, the phone is your friend. When used in an approachable fashion, it can mean the difference between a prospect and a customer. The difference between a lead and a sale. The difference between a one-time customer and a long time relationship.

Do it right. Be UNFORGETTABLE. Don’t phone it in.

About the Author

Scott Ginsberg, aka "The Nametag Guy," is the author of three books and a professional speaker who helps people maximize approachability, become unforgettable and make a name for themselves. To book Scott for your next association meeting, conference or corporate event, contact Front Porch Productions at 314/256-1800 or email

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-01-09 16:21:52 in Marketing Articles

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