Are the Right People Answering Your Phones? - Nexstar Network

Everyone wants their company to have a great customer experience, from the time they decide to call to when the door closes as your technician leaves their home. It seems like a simple concept, use advertising and your community presence to convince people to call you over your competition. Most successful operations have figured out how to make the phones ring, but tend to drop the ball once that happens. I believe the problems start with the quality of the applicants you hire.

As an industry, we tend to treat the people who answer our calls as “less than” the others in our business. Even if you don’t think that applies in your case, I am willing to bet that these are some of the lowest-paid and least-trained members of your team. I am constantly asked how to find better people for these jobs and my answer is always the same. Pay them more.

If you want a truly great technician to leave their current employer and come work for you, an increase in pay and benefits will be a key part of that conversation. So why should your internal staff be any different? If you want the best team answering your phones then be prepared to pay for the privilege. I’m not talking about payroll to the detriment of your bottom line, but rather getting realistic about the caliber of human being you have on the receiving end of all that marketing spend. The BEST people will not settle for average compensation.

And if you’re going to pay more, you can demand more as well. We hire these people for their attitude above all else, and we should demand a good one every day. Just as your technicians are expected to bring their knowledge and equipment to work, our internal staff should bring their tools as well. When they show up for the interview they are usually well-dressed and in a great mood. If they aren’t, then don’t hire them. If they are, bring those facts up as a continuing condition of employment.

I’ll give you an example, but first let’s set the stage: I have decided that I will pay the highest wages for answering the phones in my market to make sure I hire only the best people. I will have already conducted the first interview over the phone to make sure that this potential coworker can become the voice of my company. Once they pass that test I will invite them in for a face-to-face interview. At some point during that meeting, I will bring up some version of the following:

“I think you would make a great addition to our team, but I have a couple nonnegotiable conditions we need to discuss first. You arrived today on time, looking professional, and in a good mood. Those three things, above all else, are why I would hire you. Any day you show up any different I will have to consider the possibility of finding someone else. We all have things happening in our personal lives, but you are being hired for your great attitude, so I will accept nothing else. Do you think you can consistently live up to what you have shown me today?”

There are lots of different ways to convey those sentiments, but you get the idea. If we want to have the best team we are going to need to make changes in the form of better pay and better people.

mm

Tom is a call center excellence coach with Nexstar and has managed call centers in the PHCE industries for more than 15 years. He's passionate about raising the level of call center training and customer service expertise for home service providers. To see all of Tom's publications, click here. He can be reached at 651-789-8590 or tomm@nexstarnetwork.com.