Of course advisors’ interactions with clients can be limited, as financial planners are often busy with a variety of tasks associated with running their businesses. With that in mind, all points of contact with clients—including telephone conversations—can play a crucial role in client satisfaction.
Yet, many firms fail to teach employees telephone etiquette, which can lead to disastrous results. While poor phone etiquette can make clients feel undervalued, it can also make advisory firm employees appear to be lazy and insensitive to individual’s needs.
With that in mind, advisors should make sure their employees avoid making these common blunders when talking with clients on the telephone.
Starting Off on the Wrong Foot
Employees should be taught to identify themselves when they answer the phone. Allowing a client to place a name with a voice can make a phone call seem more personal, but it also sends a message that the person answering the call is willing to be responsible for his or her actions.
Reluctance to Take a Message
Perhaps one of the most egregious blunders is expressing a reluctance to take messages. When a client calls for an advisor who isn’t available, an employee should offer to take a message. Surprisingly, many employees fail to offer to take a message and then decline to take one when asked by the client to do so, suggesting the client call back at a later time. Such a response can makes an advisory firm’s employees appear lazy and lacking in consideration for the caller while making the client feel unvalued.
Extended Hold Times and Hang Ups
Another common blunder is to place someone on hold for a prolonged period of time and then inadvertently hang up on them. Such an experience can be frustrating for a client and it sends the message that the financial advisory firm simply doesn’t have its act together. To avoid such a blunder, telephone receptionists and other employees should be trained to first ask a caller if it is ok to put them on hold. They should then write down the caller’s name and telephone number so that the appropriate person can call them back if the call is mistakenly disconnected.
Speaking Too Quickly
Nearly everyone has experienced the speed talker. In some cases, speed talkers may initially talk at a normal pace, but increase the pace when it’s time to relay crucial pieces of info, such as phone numbers. If anything, employees should be taught to slow down their speaking speed when they give out a phone number, especially when leaving a voicemail message. Better yet, they should be taught to also repeat the number.
Forgetting to Press the Mute Button
Employees may mistakenly think a caller is on hold or that the microphone on their telephone is muted, not realizing that a caller can hear their conversation. This can initially lead to confusion as the caller may think employees are talking into the phone. In cases where employees may be conducting an unprofessional conversation, it can be a major source of embarrassment. To avoid this blunder, employees should be taught to always conduct themselves as if a caller is listening.
Dodging a Question
Some employees may feel reluctant to acknowledge that they don’t know the answer to a caller’s question, such as when an advisor may be available. In such instances, employees may seek to avoid the question by providing an answer that is irrelevant. Such responses can be frustrating for callers while making the employee look foolish. Employees should be taught to avoid such blunders by being honest with callers.
Client experiences are a culmination of events, including interactions that can seem as insignificant as telephone conversations. Yet, even small interactions with customers can have a big impact on clients’ satisfaction with an advisory firm, so it makes sense to ensure your employees have a code of conduct when it comes to telephone conversations.
If you have anything to add to this list, or experienced this firsthand, weigh in below in the comments section.