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Talking to your clients (or the importance of the phone in customer relations)

picture of the author Renaud | 20 september 2017

Client relations: the phone remains an indispensable tool
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To meet the growing expectations of clients, numerous startups and digital companies have chosen to switch to alternative channels of communication (email, chat, bots, etc.) But even if these new channels seem more effective, the phone remains among the privileged means of communication between clients and companies. So before adopting a multi-channel strategy for your client support, here are a few tips on making the most of your phone.

6 good reasons to use the phone in client relations

No email or chat interface can ever replace this :

1. CREATE A RELATIONSHIP OF CONFIDENCE


Unlike email, the phone obliges us to be more authentic and empathetic.
A lot of information passes through the voice, depending on tone, inflection, and even facial expression. As explained by neuroscientist Seth Horowitz:

We’re picking up and processing heard information within 50 milliseconds of someone speaking. A lot of this information doesn’t get processed at a cognitive level. Some of the first targets for heard information are emotional substrates, so [when] listening to someone’s voice, you’re picking up emotional gradients from them.


The phone allows you to get more involved in the discussion and show how much your correspondent’s satisfaction means to you. Interaction with an attentive, invested human voice is invaluable when it comes to useful exchange with your clients and, in effect, improving client retention.

2. INCREASE CLIENT SATISFACTION


Imagine that your client has a problem. They consult your website in an attempt to find a solution, without success. Finding themselves on your “Contact us” page, which contains multiple contact options, they decide to send you an email. After waiting several hours without a response, they send a tweet to see if the process goes any faster, only to receive a message asking them to call customer service.

Your client has thus been required to contact you 3 times for an answer. Undoubtedly, their satisfaction is far from maximal. And even if they’d gotten a quicker response by email, chances are that a solution to their problem would still have required extra steps, as you would likely need further information in order to effectively manage the situation.

Using the phone for customer service is a great way to improve your rate of resolution at first contact, therefore improving the rate of customer satisfaction. On the phone, you can ask for more details and reformulate your correspondent’s request, in order to present a solution and immediately determine their comprehension.

3. BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR CLIENTS


Each time contact you make contact with a client, you have an opportunity to better understand their expectations and use of your product or service. Perhaps you’ve imagined the situation to be one way, but does this reflect reality?

When a someone buys your product, you can assume that you were offering what they were looking for. But are they happy with your product? You’ll have to find out by calling your clients and taking their temperature, so to speak, from time to time. Beyond just gathering simple statistics on the most frequent issues, your phone-based customer service will serve to identify the cause of these issues and allow you to be proactive in finding solutions.

Getting your clients on the phone will help you to enrich your website with specific cases, documentation and direct quotes. To resolve areas of difficulty and optimise your clients’ use of your product, you can also provide training or webinars for newcomers.

4. EVOLVE YOUR PRODUCT


Phone communication with your clients is also useful for determining future directions of your product, depending on their needs.

Numerous calls concerning a specific point of your product could signal the need for improvement. After handling such a call, you could take the time to explore your client’s expectations in terms of functionality, or test new ideas. Of course, it isn’t possible for 100% of your clients to completely satisfied 100% the time, and some of them might even be opposed to your strategy. But it’s important to determine the satisfaction level of your clientele, in order to guarantee the continued pertinence of your product.

5. UP-SELL, CROSS-SELL


A call to your customer service is also an opportunity to present new paid features or sell a more comprehensive monthly plan. What’s more, a sales pitch is much more convincing over the phone than by email. According to a study by BIA/Kelsey, calls are 10 to 15 times more likely to yield sales than a prospect solicited online, for example.

With communication more fluid, you’re able to convey more empathy, thus creating a bond over the phone that means more points won with your clients. A simple call to resolve a problem can turn into a sale, for the benefit of both your client and your company.

6. IMPROVE YOUR RETENTION RATE


There’s no point gaining more clients if you can’t keep any of them in the long-term.

Your customer service plays a key role on many levels with regard to your dissatisfied clientele:
- Making them feel heard and taken care of
- Solving their problem in an efficient and satisfactory manner
- Sharing recurring problems in-house in an attempt to provide a more permanent solution

If on occasion a client decides to stop using your product or service in spite of your efforts (or even before having contacted you for a solution), you can make contact one last time by phone. Be proactive in contacting clients who have just left, so that you may conduct a quick satisfaction survey. Even if there is no chance to win them back as a client, you can at least try to better understand their reasons for leaving and do your best to prevent those issues in the future.

So, are you convinced by the phone’s usefulness? You’ll still need to know how to best use it at different stages of the customer cycle. Discover in our next article 4 strategies for talking to your clients.

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