It may seem that in this age of smartphones and digital media, no one really wants to pick up the phone and call a business anymore, but nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, a study by NewVoiceMedia revealed that 75 percent of respondents felt that calling was still the form of contact most effective for a quick response. When asked about getting problems solved, calling won again, with 45 percent preferring a call to email (at 19 percent) or social media (13 percent).

Apparently there are a lot of customers who still want to reach out and touch you through the telephone. That’s why we’ve made this short list of the best ways to serve them, each and every day.

How to Best Service Customers Over the Phone

Many customers still want an intimate connection to another human being when making a tough or expensive purchase, and there’s no denying that the human touch can easily change the direction of a sale in a way that an email never could. But servicing a customer via the telephone is a much different art than servicing them via an email.

Don’t worry, we have some pointers:

  • Make it easy to reach an agent. Servicing customers over the phone starts with actually getting them to an agent. The Nation of Serial Switchers report mentioned above found that 53 percent of callers are put off by not speaking to a real person right away, which means that your telephone trees may be losing you valuable business.A virtual receptionist or an answering service can act as an operator, immediately picking up the telephone and patching callers through if your call volume isn’t extremely high. If you instead need to send customers to a call center, keep the menu as short as possible, since 40 percent are upset by being presented with multiple menus to navigate.
  • Take the time it takes. A lot of call centers and even small businesses are obsessed with call handle time. You shouldn’t spend all day chatting up one customer, but sales can take time and your customers deserve your dedication. After all, a survey found that repeat customers spend 33 percent more than existing ones, and increasing customer retention rates by just five percent increases profits by up to 95 percent.Instead of focusing on handle time, a better metric may be first call resolution. This way you can be certain that your customers are getting exactly what they need and aren’t being rushed off the phone, never to be heard from again.
  • Admit what you don’t know. Customers are surprisingly forgiving if you don’t know the answer to their question, provided you admit it. Instead of trying to bluff when there’s a question about someone’s question, be ready with resources that can help you find the answer.Be prepared to direct the customer to a manufacturer for more details, or even better, act as their go-between and ask these questions yourself so you’ll be prepared for the next customer who has the same unusual question.

Emails can be efficient ways to connect to business partners or customers who know exactly what they want, but they’re no replacement for the kind of personal service that a telephone operator can provide. If your own staff can’t do the job, an answering service can act like an extension of your office relatively inexpensively, giving you another way to engage customers and make them really super happy.