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Re: Your Call Taker, The Business Bottleneck [Re: LK] #182281 11/23/08 08:27 AM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
Electricmanscott Offline

Nothing like sitting there on the phone with someone who has NO clue what they are talking about. It's obvious they are reading from a script, usually quite poorly and I find it insulting.

Business, Office, Estimating, Legal:
Re: Your Call Taker, The Business Bottleneck [Re: Electricmanscott] #182290 11/23/08 04:03 PM
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,283
electure Offline
I welcome any member to query us with any business related topic and, with the permission of the moderators; we could start independent threads to expand on any given subject in greater detail. We deal with questions from contractors of all sizes, geographical locations and specialties so hopefully, we can provide some varying perspectives at the least and perhaps, some sound advice from time to time.

That's exactly the scope of what this Business Section of the bulletin board is here for, members helping members.

Re: Your Call Taker, The Business Bottleneck [Re: Electricmanscott] #182315 11/23/08 08:26 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 13
Service Doc Offline OP
So I guess you answer your own phones Scott, unless you have hired someone who is well versed in the field and can afford to keep them in the office to answer phones for you instead of, I don’t know, earning income? You are one lucky guy!

Unfortunately, the majority of small contractors who are trying to get office help so they can spend more time where they are most profitable are trying to or have hired a secretary/receptionist to handle many of the office tasks including answering the phones.

Perhaps you have found a well of talent where you can easily hire people that will accept to get paid an average salary (for a CSR) but whose level of talent far surpasses the ones most of our customers employ. From my experience, it’s hard enough to find and afford someone who does a great job in the office and possesses good phone skills. So please Scott, send us a list of available candidates so we can share in your good fortune.

While we wait on that however, it may be a good idea to provide guidelines to that regular CSR to try to improve how they handle those calls that have cost you so much in advertising to generate. And while I agree (see previous post) that “reading a script” may seem transparent, most people, especially the ones under your employ Scott, should have the capacity to understand the “overall message” and make it their own, meaning, incorporating it in their knowledge base.

As an example, when I call your office and hear “Welcome to Scott’s Electrical Company, how may I help you? That sounds scripted but I don’t feel insulted. And when I explain my issue to your CSR and they are able to qualify it in a way that they can relate to the problem while sending the right person with the right tools to take care of it, I don’t really care if they learned that from a trade school or a knowledge source, I would feel like I’m dealing with a professional company that hires qualified people. It may even make me stop calling other shops and accept your services based on the credibility you convey!

I doubt you would want your receptionist or secretary or CSR to handle each call the same way regardless of the topic. I believe that a customer complaint should be handled with a different perspective that a regular service call. When someone asks for a price up front, I hope that you provide them with more than just a price if any price at all, because if you do, that’s all they will have to compare you to the other shop that offers the same service at a cheaper rate. Your potential customer has got to walk away from that call with not only the information they requested, but also a list of reasons why you are the one to resolve their issue, whether you are more cost effective than your competition or not.

It all comes down to perceived value. We all spend more money on certain items because of the reputation the brand name carries or the level of service we can expect after sale. Why is your business any different? And you can honestly tell me that a regular “office guy or gal” has the talent from day one to convey the advantages your company offers specific to the precise reason of the call in the first place? Can anyone really suggest that their call takers are the best they could possibly be?

Unless you want to spend your day coaching your CSR on how they should have dealt with the past call type, hoping they retain that information so that the next time, when the same type of call comes in, they can make use of your exact suggestions, writing it down may be a good idea!

And unless you want your CSR to have to go through an immense amount of paperwork trying to find the one appropriate to the call at hand, implementing those suggestions using technology that allows them to click on a link that brings up the appropriate guidelines instantly may not be a bad idea either!

Most major companies provide resources to their call takers so they are able to better handle and qualify calls, providing the people in the field a better understanding of what to expect while immediately generating confidence from the customer. There is a reason why they do this and unfortunately, the cost involved to provide such readily available resources is prohibitive to the small entrepreneur. We are trying to provide the same tools that the “big wigs” use, which are tried and tested, to our customer to give them an edge over their competition. No one can argue that having someone with a better understanding of customer issues is not going to end up with better results on the short and long term.

Unfortunately, the feedback received thus far, with one exception, has been focused on discrediting an idea instead of trying to shape it so that it works for how you do business and the reality of your day to day activities. That sort of thinking is quite rampant with micromanaging business owners who feel threatened by thoughts that don’t fall within the scope of their own existing business practices. Having worked with many of the members of this forum in the past, I know that most of you are here to try to learn from one and other and generate ideas that might improve your bottom line. It’s to those that I address this thread since this effort is obviously not aimed at those contractors that already “have it all figured out”.

I very much look forward to comments that are aimed at converting an idea to a solution that suits your true business reality. When I hear contractor comments about dispatching, flat rate or Numbers Crunching solutions out there, I usually hear about what’s missing or what they would change to better suit their needs. This thread is designed to preempt that constructive criticism allowing you to help shape a business tool that may provide distinct improvements from day 1. I hope we can all take advantage of our common experiences to come up with something that will truly make a difference, as opposed to just saying it will.

And by the way, electure, I understand that the scope of this bulletin board is for members helping members, I was just trying to convey that I’m very thankful to anyone that provides feedback and I’m willing to go above and beyond what they expect by addressing each question with the same fervor as we put in for our regular consulting customers. Quid pro quo Clarice, that was my point.


Re: Your Call Taker, The Business Bottleneck [Re: Electricmanscott] #182317 11/23/08 08:59 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,155
dougwells Offline
Originally Posted by Electricmanscott

Nothing like sitting there on the phone with someone who has NO clue what they are talking about. It's obvious they are reading from a script, usually quite poorly and I find it insulting.

I am not sure if i am reading this Correctly.

Does this mean We need to educate a CSR Better and they can be knowlegable of the trade as it relates to service work.
And your not happy with the uninformed canned response and there could be better a better way for coaching CSR's

I have seen the one to Two line scripts in the past and yes I wouldn't trust that the Company has any Idea of what my service needs may be.

Re: Your Call Taker, The Business Bottleneck [Re: dougwells] #182331 11/23/08 10:57 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
There seem to be two distinct type of "live person" you get on the phone.

The type I believe Electricmanscott was referring to is the one you get after twnety minuts of 'voice mail jail,' some third-worlder who has a sheet of defined answers, and has no idea what's really happening.

The other type is what used to be the norm ... some gal who was actually AT the place of business, and usually knew better than anyone else just what was going on.

For those who think I'm exaggerating ... I once worked for a shop that ran just fine, for over a year, after management quit in a dispute with the owner. No, the owner didn't resume running things .... the leads and clerical staff did just fine without being 'managed.' To this day, I cannot figure out why the owner felt the need to replace his managers ....

Discrediting an idea? I think not .... the idea has had the past few decades to discredit itself. Sure, it's tempting to think of all the money you'll save by replacing your staff with a $9.95 computer CD ... but the results are a disaster for everyone except the management types who award themselved fat bonuses for their 'cost cutting.'

Likewise, using technology to forward calls to non-employees, who don't share the wages and benefits of the firms' employees isn't likely to make any points on the shop floor. Or, for that matter, with the customers.

IF I had a 'gal Friday,' to answer the phone, my own phone number would become a 'state secret.' Yet, that lady would know, minute by minute, what I was doing, what was going on in the company, and have the judgement to know when to call me. I simply can't give a customer my full attention when I'm driving, speaking with another customer, or loading the truck.

Re: Your Call Taker, The Business Bottleneck [Re: Service Doc] #182345 11/24/08 08:31 AM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
Electricmanscott Offline
Originally Posted by Service Doc
So I guess you answer your own phones Scott, unless you have hired someone who is well versed in the field and can afford to keep them in the office to answer phones for you instead of, I don’t know, earning income? You are one lucky guy!

I can see right through your sales pitch here.

You asked for opinions you got them.

Keep your sarcasm to yourself.

Re: Your Call Taker, The Business Bottleneck [Re: Electricmanscott] #182358 11/24/08 03:25 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 13
Service Doc Offline OP

You can see right through my sales pitch? We are in the process of designing a business tool to help call takers improve their performance. How can I be selling something that doesn’t even exist yet? By the time we have finished fine tuning this product for electrical, probably end of 2009; these posts will be a distant memory at best.

Our marketing will be centered in trade magazines, IEC meetings, etc. The only reason why I opened this thread was to provide electrical contractors with a say of what would work best in the design phase of a new product. And although you probably won’t sign up, you are not our market. Contractors who are trying to use technology to improve their business are who we will be focusing on.

Historically, software for the electrical industry started off as something for the plumbing and hvac markets and was then patched up, usually badly, to be distributed to the electrical segment to make a few quick bucks. It’s a comment I have personally heard over and over again with flat rate solutions, dispatch software, etc.

For once, someone is contacting you directly to allow your input to shape the future of a software solution and all you can do is criticize instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to design something that may actually help you.

Our most successful customers have become that way because they have improved their marketing, field procedures and their front end, the latter being one of the most essential towards success. We have customers with posters on the wall that guide their call takers to respond to common hurdles such as up front pricing, diagnostic fees, competitive pricing comparisons to name a few. They have these since they know that some answers are better than others when dealing with specific issues.

They also make sure that the information provided from a customer who is not as well versed as a tech in describing their problem is properly conveyed to the field to allow for optimal problem resolution, which usually leads to better performance and more time for the tech to take more calls. If your call takers approach to repetitive issues is always different, I can guarantee you that your business’s front end is hit and miss at best. If their answers to repetitive issues are well thought off and successful, then they should be repeated every time the same issue comes up, and no matter if you like it or not, that’s called a script!

For some reason, you think providing the right answer to your customers time and time again requires some 3rd grader reading in a monotone voice from a post it note. That’s not how most companies do it. There are right answers to specific questions and our goal is to provide as many right answers to the most common issues that are brought to you by using technology to bring up a “guide” to approaching any given question. Imagine the advantage you would have if every phone call was dealt with using the knowledge you have accumulated over the years. Now imagine if you could get the same results without requiring you to answer the phone yourself, that’s what we are trying to do here. In addition, we want to then report on which calls were closed successfully providing you income and which weren’t and why, allowing you more information to better your responses to those failed opportunities. What the heck is so wrong with that?

I’m sorry if I was sarcastic in my last response but I’m getting a little frustrated reading post that serve only to criticize something that falls outside the purview of the poster. If you took the time to read my previous posts, all the way back to 2005, this is the first time I have asked for input on a developing product. All the other posts were written to provide the same information to any given query that we share with our paying consulting customers. So instead of bringing out your torch and pitchfork and accusing anyone who is not a contractor as being a “snake oil salesmen”, do a little research and you may find out that not everyone is out to take advantage of you. And be careful because it’s usually those who can’t be trusted that don’t trust, the image you project in your comments say more about the person posting it than the recipient of the post.

I may have read you wrong and if so, I apologize. I ask that you examine your conclusions based on my history as well. Perhaps we can start off with a clean slate and offer some input that will be beneficial to all concerned.

If not, then let's agree to disagree and leave it at that, as you said, everyone is allowed an opinion no matter if you agree with it or not.


Re: Your Call Taker, The Business Bottleneck [Re: Service Doc] #182551 12/01/08 08:16 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 169
ChicoC10 Offline
I'm just a one man shop so my opinion may not matter much but....

There are policies in place on this board that discourage members from offering advice or worse yet, step by step instructions to DIY "electricians" on the basic premise, as I understand it, that this dangerous business we engage in is complex enough that there is almost never an easy, black and white answer to any electrical question. It always involves an experienced person asking the questions to even get a clue as to what the real situation might be and it usually involves having a look at the job to know for sure what the true scope is.

With that in mind....

Most of my service calls come from people who don't know a switch from a "plug" and a game of 20 questions is needed to have any hope of showing up with the necessary material in my van to complete the job. That would be # 3 on Greg's wife's list (I am unfortunately guilty of violating all 3 at one time or another but mostly # 3) and no program or flowchart is ever going to nail it.

Just my 2ç

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