9 ways to make your phone system work for you
While telephone management has gone high-tech, most calls to your practice involve a relatively simple process of a client calling to try to spend money or expand his or her relationship with you. And depending on how that phone call goes, the client may or may not feel valued. Clients will call elsewhere when you treat them poorly. So keep them dialing your number by following these tips from Lacher McDonald CPAs:
1. Have enough phone lines. It’s easy to install enough lines to cover your needs.
2. Don’t let your inbox fill up. Voicemail is pretty much standard, but a message that “this voicemail box is full” reflects bad phone management. If necessary, delegate somebody to handle the messages. Ignoring your voicemail box is the equivalent of a neon sign that tells the client, “We don’t have time for you.”
3. Have a team member answer the phone. A human should answer your main business line, not a recording. And be sure that person answers with a brief greeting—callers don’t want the personal history of the person answering or even a good-day wish. Don’t waste the caller’s time with endless chit-chat.
4. Identify yourself within the first three seconds. This helps callers know they have the correct number and conveys that you’re proud of your identity—enough to say it early and quickly.
5. If possible, provide for an override of the answering message. Some phone systems let clients dial the extension they want the moment the system answers or anytime during the automated message. If they get the voicemail of the person they called, they can press the star key and avoid that message too. Do your phones have these features? And does your staff know about them?
6. Utilize conference calling. It will require some staff training to be able to effectively use this feature, which allows you to talk to more than one outside party. If your system has the capability but you need a master’s degree in electrical engineering to use it, investigate if there’s an easier way. When you’re buying a new system, this feature is a must.
7. Place an instruction card by each phone explaining how to use functions. This provides better system utilization and ease of use.
8. Use speed dial. Create a list of the speed dial numbers and distribute to employees.
9. Filter personal calls. Personal calls should come through the automated answering system or directly to the recipient’s extension. There’s no reason that routine personal calls should go through a receptionist who has more important things to do. The obvious exception is in the case of personal emergencies. Of course, most personal calls now come on individual cellphones to avoid the scrutiny of co-workers. But it’s still pretty easy to spot the abusers.
The phone call is a client’s first interaction with your practice, so follow these tips to make sure it’s a good one.