My career specialty in the Hotel Business for many years was Room Service or In Room Dining. This is a business whose source of revenue was over the phone. The response had to be courteous, accurate and fast. There may be 1 or 2 people to respond to the requests coming from tens to dozens and occasionally, over 100 people during a meal period. There are specific guidelines and techniques that have proven successful over the years.
- Answer within 3 rings. The longer it takes, the higher the chances of losing the call.
- Greeting: “Thank you for calling….this is …, how may I help you?” Don’t rush the greeting, it then sounds like you are overwhelmed.
- Smile on the call. Try it. Place calls to each other and smile and frown. Moods come through the call. If you are happy or angry, emotions affect your tone, and your tone affects the call.
- Write it down, have a call log or template for each call to be recorded, not scratch paper. If a simple call sheet will do, use that. If you have a dedicated team to answer calls, work with the team to find or come up with something that works. Participation means buy in, buy in means commitment to success.
- Don’t rush, get it right.
- If you have to place someone on hold, ask their permission and wait for their response. Too often this step is missed and the call is lost due to a caller’s frustration at having to wait.
- Do not allow the hold to last more than 30 seconds without reconnecting to the caller.
- Thank them for holding, if you have to keep them longer, then ask for a call back number, get a brief description of the reason for the call and arrange a follow up time, say 30 minutes at the maximum. The longer you take the quicker they can call someone else.
- Use the customer’s name in the conversation, at least 3 times at the beginning, middle and end of the conversation.
- Read the information back to the caller confirming you have all the information, the phone number is right, the reason for the call, payment information, address, whatever is important in the conversation.
Practice. Call each other and role play. As with anything else, the more you practice, the better you get.