Q: What should I have my office staff do when the phones are slow?

by | Oct 12, 2016

Q: What should I have my office staff do when the phones are slow?

This question was posted in a Facebook group I belong to. On the surface, it seems benign enough, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was a truly epic question.

First, decide – do you consider your office staff to be an integral part of your business building strategy, or are they simply the hired help to answer phones so you don’t have to?

Your office staff is your front line. They are the face of your company to anyone who may walk through the door. They are the familiar voice on the other end of the line for your regular customers, and they are the person holding the answers to the important questions your potential customers may have. As soon as you understand this, you will find lots and lots of things for them to do to fill time during the slower season.

Because I hope you’ll see things my way here, I’m going to volunteer a few suggestions:

1) EDUCATION

Do the people answering your phones really, truly understand the many aspects of what it is that you do? Invest in them. Send them for training. Rug ID is a great place to start. If they know the potential pitfalls of a rug coming in, they’ll price accordingly and educate your customers before the cleaning has begun. Let them dust and wash some rugs, teach them how to do some specialty spotting, send them to a repair class. If repairs are not a service you already offer, ask them if it’s something they’d like to learn to do for you. It’s a great way for them to earn some extra money too! In physically handling the rugs in your shop through the various stages of work, your office staff will be better equipped to answer any and all questions about your services.

2) SOCIAL MEDIA

Are you worried that your office staff surf the web too much during their down time? Ask them if they’d like to create/maintain your Facebook business page, or Twitter, or Instagram. If they are creative at all, ask them to come up with short, educational blog posts for your website. Provide a small bonus for each feature they write. Let’s face it, you hate doing that stuff, but it really needs to be done if you’re going to stay competitive in an ever-online world.

3) TRACKING

You track everything, right? Where the calls come from, how much each new customer costs you, most common questions and/or complaints you customers might have, office supply inventory, chemical usage, chemical inventory… If you don’t (as I suspect may be the case) please ask your office staff to do these things for you. If they don’t know how to create and run a simple spreadsheet, invest in some adult-ed classes for them. Your office staff should have skills in all of the MS Office suite.

4) MARKETING

Now that you’re tracking customer calls as you should, you are able to tailor a few marketing campaigns geared to their most common concerns. Your office staff can help with everything from ideas, to design, to writing, to addressing and labeling. If your in-house client database for needs updating, your office staff can start there. Ask them to be sure to ask for a current physical and email address from each and every customer.

5) CLEANING UP

This should include more than tidying the office area. Your office staff should be included in decisions regarding how the shop should flow and be organized. After all, when customers come in to pick up their rugs, your office staff will need to find them. While they’re at it, have them update the customer intake area to include books and articles on display that your customers will appreciate. What about those orders that have been left behind? Have your office staff make reminder calls and send certified mail to the owners of anything that’s been sitting around too long.

Once you start investing in your office staff as a bigger, more integral part of your business, you’ll start to see an increase in their overall attitude and confidence, and will see monetary returns fairly quickly.

 

 

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