November 16, 2006

Customer Service Tips.

Let's say you own a large architectural firm.

Your receptionist or secretary who is responsible for answering the telephone REALLY should have a sheet of paper in front of her that lists current projects and who's working on them, because if she doesn't, and someone calls to ask for the lead architect and he's not in the office, you REALLY don't want her to say when asked if there is anyone else working on the project, "Uhhmm, well, I guess there probably is."

Worse is when there's a pause afterwards, as if she's waiting for the caller to hang up.

To compound the consternation on the part of the caller (consternation that you've created by not having a handy project list nearby), it's probably best to instruct her when a caller asks if there's a way she could find out who, exactly, might be an alternative person with whom the caller could converse, that she not say something like, "Uhm, well, whoever it is might be out with Mr. Lead Architect."

Such obvious lack of ability and tact in the person who gives the public its first impression of the company reflects poorly upon your hiring decisions, Mr. Firm Owner. If you hire people like this to talk to the public, what sort of dimwits might you be hiring to design that new parking deck!?

So, in order, to help you out:

1) Have a project list of current projects nearby to the phone-answering person, with the names of everyone in the office who is working on each project.

2) Have those persons' contact information printed beside their names.

3) Have the telephone operator use the list when people call.

4) Have a sign-out sheet that lets the operator know when someone is out of the office, and when he or she will return.

5) If the project isn't current, instruct the operator to politely ask the person to hold, then have her ASK someone else in the office who might know something about the project, and have that person speak to the caller.

See, it's really rather simple.

Also might save you a bit of grief from your client on down the road, too, when they find out they're being delayed by some minor bureacrat who couldn't get the answers he needed because he couldn't find anyone at your company to talk to.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at November 16, 2006 10:29 AM

As an alternative to pieces of paper, may I suggest a simple database program? Access will do in a pinch, and is probably part of your office package already.

A few quick keystrokes and you know who's on what project.

Posted by: skinnydan at November 16, 2006 06:38 PM

Heck, Terry. You'd think thinking ahead might be useful too. Fat chance.

Posted by: Tony von Krag at November 16, 2006 08:03 PM

You fellows and your logical solutions!!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at November 17, 2006 03:49 PM