Even with phone automation systems in place, you will still have to take phone calls. While it’s true that many transactions these days occur without human interaction, and many people prefer texting over speaking on the phone, some people are not yet comfortable placing an online order or having their question addressed in a recording.
A good experience on the phone can definitely make someone’s day. Alternatively, a bad experience on the phone can make them want to never have any association with your business again. That’s why it’s important to remember your phone etiquette – and make sure your staff is doing the same!
DO smile as you speak.
People can hear your tone of voice. They can tell if you’re smiling even though they can’t see you. Make them feel welcome and cared for by helping them with a smile. They will instantly be able to hear it and respond accordingly. In fact, this can help improve your restaurant’s reputation because if your customers feel like you care about them and their concerns, they will keep coming back. They may even spread the word.
DON’T zip through your opening as fast as possible.
“Hi! Thanks for calling Pizza Palace – how can I help you?” turns into “Hi, thanksforcalling PizPalse H’c’n’hlp?” delivered with rushed monotony toward the end of a shift.
It can be mundane, answering phone calls over and over again where you’re consistently asked the same two questions. Don’t let that seep into your voice. Don’t rush through the greeting; it is, in fact, setting the tone for the entire call. Even though you’ve said it 50 times today, this customer hasn’t heard it 50 times. They’re hearing it for the first time right now, and they want to hear you enunciate the restaurant’s name, as well as your own, so they know they are speaking to an interested, attentive representative.
DO pick up quickly.
If you’re going to get the phone rather than letting it go to voicemail, answer it quickly. By the fourth ring, customers are starting to mentally formulate the message they’ll leave (assuming they don’t just hang up) and have already checked out of the phone call. Answering the phone at that point is jarring and unexpected.
DON’T distract yourself doing something else.
It is remarkably easy to tell when someone has stopped listening to you, and let’s be honest – it isn’t fun. It hurts and it’s frustrating. When customers call, they can often hear background noise of conversations, the kitchen, and more. There’s nothing wrong with being busy, so that’s okay. But unless you’re the type of person who can genuinely juggle multiple tasks simultaneously, they will be able to pick up on it immediately if you become distracted, and they will want to go find someone willing to listen to them. When you answer the phone, be prepared to devote yourself to the conversation up until it’s over. The caller’s time is precious, and you should treat it as such while they’re on the phone with you.
DO be prepared to answer their questions.
People are going to want to know what you’re serving, and when, and how much it costs. They’ll want to know what’s in their food, what today’s special is, and how fast they can get it. It’s important to have this information either already logged in your brain or on a convenient cheat sheet near the phone, so you don’t have to pause the conversation to find out for them. Asking the representative on the phone if today’s special is vegan and having them respond with, “Uh … let me check,” introduces small doubts into customers’ minds.
BOTTOM LINE: Treat customers as you would want to be treated.
This is an age-old sentiment, but it has survived the test of time because it’s true. When you genuinely treat your callers the way you would want your calls to be treated, you are offering a sense of kindness and humanity that is irreplaceable in phone automation, texting, and online interaction.
For the phone calls you can’t get to, be sure to have an automated service that’s a step above voicemail; answer questions and help people get their needs met by automating your phone system! If you don’t have one yet, learn more about what Reachify offers here.