On Wednesday I made a phone call to reserve a conference room at a hotel that most of us are familiar with. The woman who answered the phone, Amanda, was able to accommodate my request – overall, a pleasant experience. The following day, I had to cancel my meeting because it needed to be held at a more central location to accommodate my group. When I called the hotel, Amanda was unavailable so I was put in touch with Kim who would handle cancelling the booking.
Kim was able to handle my request. However, not once did she ask why I was cancelling the booking or if I would like to re-schedule for another date or another location. In fact, she made it clear to me based on her tone and quick dialogue that she was in a rush. Interestingly enough, after getting off the phone I didn’t feel upset but I did feel rushed and most importantly I would have to call back to re-book.
For me, this interaction has lots of opportunity to ensure a customer is satisfied. The first thing I would address is working with staff to smile when they answer the phone. Although a simple trick, it can set the tone for a positive interaction. Secondly, the staff member can dictate the pace and tone of the conversation to feel calm and unrushed. The goal of interacting with a customer is to assist them. Although Kim assisted me in cancelling my booking, she did not assist me in re-booking or trying to understand why I cancelled. Interestingly enough, I did re-book my conference room at another location with the same hotel chain. However, I may not be as inclined to use the original hotel in the future based on my interaction with Kim.
The lesson here for shops is to ensure as much emphasis is placed on interacting with phone customers as it is placed on face to face interactions. Simple tips such as smiling and setting the tone and pace will help create a positive discussion. As well, you will need to establish what the customer need is and ask pertinent follow-up questions. In this case, “Is there a reason for your cancellation?” which would have helped to lay the groundwork for the rest of the discussion.