As we all know, first impressions are a key factor in who we do business with. We understand that our chauffeurs must be impeccably dressed and our vehicles immaculate because that is the first impression our travelers get of our companies.
We also know that many times the individual placing the reservation is not the one actually riding in with our chauffeur. Travel agents, meeting planners and the all-important executive administrative assistant are key cogs in the corporate travel world. They not only place the reservation but, in most cases, make the decision on which company to use. So, how do you make a great first impression on a person you seldom get to meet? Here are five ways to make a great first impression over the phone.
1) End your greeting with your first name – “OML Worldwide, this is Joe” is my standard greeting. Anything you say after your name erases your name from the caller’s memory. The goal is for every caller to remember your name. Want a good way to see how this works? Try it for a week with your reservations team and see how many callers begin asking for people by name. (Thanks to Telephone Doctor, Inc for this tip!)
2) If you don’t know the caller, use Mr. or Mrs. – We all have regular travelers that know us well. Friends and associates we talk with often. For your inside sales/ reservations team it is common to be on a first name basis with many callers. However, with new clients and any you don’t know personally a more formal greeting is best. The fact is there are few people who get offended by us using their first name, however, I’ve yet to run in to some who got offended by me using Mr. or Ms.
3) On transferred calls, always answer with at least your name – Most of us have fancy phone systems with a ton of features which include caller ID. I bet we’ve all also been caught in a situation where, you think it is a fellow team member or friend, it is actually a client and you answer the phone, “Whatcha need”, “Yea” or even more embarrassing “What’s up nerd”. Simply use “ This is _________”. Plus, your caller will know they got to the person they were looking for.
4) If possible, ELIMINATE AUTO ATTENDANTS – During busy times this is almost unavoidable and we all need an “Our team is busy helping other customers” message. This is understandable. But, I’ve yet to meet someone who is excited when they talk to a machine.
5) Get the caller’s phone number at the beginning of the call – Cell phones have done a great job keeping us connected to anyone and everyone. They have also created the infamous dropped call. If you have a dropped call situation, wait a couple minutes and return the call. If you get a voice mail, leave a message. The callers will appreciate your proactive customer service.
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