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Inaccurate information can cause problems that range from minor misspelled names on billing statements to the disastrous late deliveries that cause us to lose customers. Take the time on every phone call to make sure the information you get is clear and accurate. Here are some tips to help you get accurate information from customers on the telephone that you can share with your staff in a training session.

Speak slowly and clearly and concentrate on the call.

Never throw a message down on scratch paper. That is how they get lost or thrown away and the customer does not get taken care of. Use the Follow Up Call section of your POS system for as many phone messages as you possibly can. This is the best method of making sure your customer’s needs do not get overlooked. Always get or verify the phone number where they can be reached, the name of the person who is calling, and reason for their call. Listen carefully. Note that the reason for the call is important for two reasons. One, it gives the person who will return the call an opportunity to prepare information in advance to better respond to the customer. Two, you may actually be able to answer a question or help the customer instead of leaving a message. This will benefit the customer with instant gratification and save time for someone else. Ask the customer to spell their last name for you. If they are in your POS system, you can go to the customer screen and verify the name and phone numbers. The following are examples of incorrect names taken: Wrong: Fay Dicarla, Barney Cooling, Teri Gurnolie Right: Ray Dicola, Bernie Golling, Keri Brugnoli If you do not have a Follow Up Call feature in your POS system, I recommend a phone message book. A book with the carbonless forms in it that you can purchase at your local office supply store ensures that you always have reference to the phone message information that is received – especially if you misplace the message before you make the call. It is a great idea to periodically check the books and check off the calls that are completed successfully. When you use a phone message book you must get all the required information:

Date & time are very important

Always get a phone number where they can be reached, the name of the person who is calling and reason for the call. Listen carefully to the name and phone number Ask the customer to spell their last name for you. Always repeat the phone number they give you for confirmation. Make sure you sign the message so the person receiving the call can talk to you if they have any questions. Repeat, repeat, and repeat important information before you hang up. Before you end the conversation, always repeat any information (names, addresses, account numbers, etc.) to the customer, to verify that your understanding is correct. This is your last chance to make sure the information is correct, so take advantage of it. Also, just before ending the conversation, ask customers if there is anything more you can do for them. This will give them the chance to remember anything that may have slipped their mind, such as a phone number where they can be reached after hours or a fax number they didn’t tell you about previously.

Distribute the message immediately.

Check your Follow Up Calls periodically throughout the day to ensure that you respond to all of your messages in a timely manner. Return all phone calls from the day before you leave at night. Make your calls after the store closes if you do not have time throughout the day. If you do not reach your customer, and will be off the next day, transfer the call to someone else to take care of rather than make the customer wait until you come back.

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