Category: 17 Terrific Tips

17 Terrific Tips for New Employee Development

17 Terrific Tips for New Employee Development

Employers want new employees to be prepared, focused, and eager to get started. Isn’t it only reasonable that new employees receive the same consideration from their new employer? The first 90 days of employment should establish the foundation of cultural awareness and fit, position expectations, performance standards, and a positive attitude.

All new hires should complete a 90-day onboarding process. At 30-60-90-day intervals, employee and supervisor should assess what is going well and what needs attention.

Following are 17 ideas to help your new hires feel welcome and quickly be up and running.

  1. Delivered on day one, the owner or senior executive personally welcomes the new hire and provides a brief company overview. Topics include company history, vision, culture, values, etc.
  2. Workstation is ready. Dispose of outdated material and previous employee items. Furniture, office supplies, and equipment is complete and functional. Hang balloons to identify the new hire to increase coworker introductions.
  3. Prepare current employees for their new coworker. Communicate the start date and background information.
  4. Assign an office buddy to provide initial full office tour and answer general questions. Provide a list of go-to people to contact for assistance regarding general office matters.
  5. Designate a training coordinator. This may be someone other than direct supervisor.
  6. Meet and greet on day one. Host a mid-morning gathering with food for everyone to meet the new person. Present a welcome card signed by all employees.
  7. Post new hire’s picture and welcome message on the company Facebook page.
  8. Remind new employee to update her LinkedIn page. Provide the narrative for company and position if needed.
  9. IT department should set up and provide instruction for phone, e-mail, and system access.
  10. Welcome gift basket. Items may include name plate, business cards, company logo items such as mug, water bottle, and pens, the company’s cultural principle book (Raving Fans, Ubuntu, The Four Agreements), a list of restaurants in the area and some sweet treats.
  11. Benefits department reviews employee handbook, social media standards and guidelines, takes company photo, and provides badge if needed.
  12. Job description, key performance indicators, best practices, and performance review process is reviewed with supervisor.
  13. Overview of company social media presence and client communication including Facebook, LinkedIn, newsletters, mailings.
  14. Schedule shadow training with colleagues in different departments to provide a big picture perspective.
  15. Schedule client, vendor, and insurance company visits to be done jointly with appropriate coworkers.
  16. Formalize a 30-60-90-day training schedule that sets expectations for self-study lessons, coworker training, shadow training, client visits, etc.
  17. Schedule 30-60-90-day performance review dates. Provide employee the review form to self-monitor performance expectations.

 

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC, CSP helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She can be contacted at emily@sellingstrategies.com.

 

 

17 Terrific Tips to Create Office Fun

17 Terrific Tips to Create Office Fun

Promote camaraderie, better communication, and a generous spirit by adding amusing activities, mental challenges, and charitable acts to your office routine. Here are 17 ideas to get things going in your office.

  1. Name that tune, singer, movie, or commercial.  Pick a random time to play part of a song for the whole office for people to identify either the song name, who sings it, or what movie or commercial it comes from. First to respond by e-mail gets a prize.
  2. Crossword or jigsaw puzzles. Hang a giant crossword puzzle in the breakroom or set up a table with a challenging jigsaw puzzle for people to work on during breaks.
  3. Ping Pong ball toss. Line up some buckets at a challenging distance. Have teams or individuals try their skill at throwing ping pong balls in the buckets. Winners get prizes.
  4. Win a day off. Sell raffle tickets to win a free vacation day. This is usually a big fund raiser!
  5. Competitions for departments or individuals.  Holiday decorating, zany hat, or ugly sweater. Employees vote and prizes are awarded.
  6. Character contest. Department teams compete for the best ensemble character costumes. Star Trek, Star Wars, The Flintstones, Beverly Hillbillies, Disney princesses – you get the idea.
  7. Diversity Day. People bring in traditional foods for a luncheon. Ask folks to talk about their culture and traditions.
  8. Bake-off.  Contestants bring in baked goods and employees pay a nominal fee to taste the goodies. Create different categories for cakes, cheesecakes, pies, and cookies.  Employees vote for the best in each category and prizes are awarded.
  9. Hidden story or fact. Insert a weird story or fact in the text of an all-office e-mail. First person (or more depending on office size) to find it wins a prize.
  10. Pancake breakfast. Owners and managers cook breakfast for everyone.
  11. Hoops contest.  In a safe place, hang a nerf ball basketball hoop.  Schedule a time for a shooting contest.  Prizes awarded.
  12. Silent auction.  Request donated items to be auctioned.  Employee-made arts and crafts, gift baskets, certificates donated by local businesses, and car washing by a coworker are some auction item ideas.  Place the items in an area where they can be viewed, usually two or three days. Suggested minimum bids should be set by the silent auction coordinator and posted on the bidding sheets. At the end of the auction time, the winners are announced, money is collected, and donated to a charity.
  13. Easter egg hunt. Fill hollow plastic eggs with kooky prizes or money. Hide them all over the office. Set a start and finish time for employees to find the eggs.
  14. Scavenger hunt. Teams are given lists of items to gather during a specified time period. First team who has collected all the items wins a prize.
  15. Kooky course. Teams are given a list of weird stuff to do and asked to take pictures or videos as proof. Cackle like a chicken in front of a specified public place, anyone? Good outdoor activity.
  16. Talent contest. Set up categories such as singing, musical instruments, Origami art creation, or dancing. Audience votes for winners.
  17. Penny war.  Raise money by having the most positive number of pennies in a department penny-war box by the end of the day.  Here are the rules.  Cover small cardboard boxes and cut a coin slot in the top. Each department sets out their money box in the morning.  Employees put pennies in their own department box.  Employees from other departments drop silver coins into others’ department boxes.  The silver cancels out the pennies.  For example, a dime cancels out 10 pennies and a quarter cancels twenty-five pennies. If your box has a quarter and twenty-five pennies, your box total is zero. The department with the most positive pennies wins.  All money collected from the boxes goes to the department’s charity of choice.

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She can be contacted at emily@sellingstrategies.com.

Emily is the author of Great Service Sells, Selling from the Inside, and Service Selling Supercharge. For information on learning materials and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.sellingstrategies.com.

17 Terrific Tips for Meaningful Meetings

Many people believe “meet” is a four-letter word. It doesn’t have to be that way! Effective meetings will build a cohesive organization, facilitate an exchange of business-building ideas, nurture individual development, and strengthen client partnerships. Here are fundamental practices to create meaningful meetings in your organization.

  1. Four main types of internal meetings – monthly state-of-the-office meetings; weekly or bi-weekly department meetings; stand up huddles; one-on-one meetings.
  2. State-of-the-office meetings. Same day and time each month for breakfast or lunch. Fast-paced, concise agenda covers company overview and update by top management, two-minute department briefings, employee news and recognition, open forum to communicate what’s new and what’s happening.
  3. Department meetings. Primary function is to inform and learn. Goals and results are reviewed. Recognize and praise performance.
  4. Stand-up huddles. Use this brief, informal communication method to keep people and initiatives on track when looking to achieve a specific goal.
  5. One-on-one meetings between manager and employee. Monthly meeting to keep communication lines open.
  6. Meeting room essentials are post-it flip chart and markers, quality voice technology for call-in participants, technology to project documents for group viewing. Paper flip charts are recommended because they can be saved and rehung.
  7. If a sit-down meeting, have enough chairs for all. If a table is used, it’s best if all can be seated around the table avoiding perimeter seating.
  8. Change the meeting environment frequently to promote engagement and new ideas.
  9. Establish Rules of Engagement and keep them visible. Suggested guidelines include silence and/or put away mobile devices; no sidebars; put skepticism aside; love new ideas for five minutes; critique ideas, not people; allow all to be heard.
  10. Assign a meeting leader on a rotating basis. The leader sets the agenda, assures proper meeting room set up and materials, is the first to arrive, and presents a portion of the program.
  11. Start and end on time. If another meeting is needed for further discussion, set another meeting time.
  12. Create and follow an agenda that states allotted times. Change the order frequently. Have a set agenda item requiring each person to contribute one of the following: service success story, sales success story, or technology tip.
  13. To encourage discussion, suggestions, and solutions, have employees share their ideas with a partner or in a small group before asking for group input. Post all ideas on a flip chart for all to see, reflect, and build on what’s been said.
  14. Assign a note taker on a rotating basis. If needed, notes are distributed. Follow up on pertinent items should be the first agenda item at the next meeting.
  15. Remote workers. Remember to invite them! Have tech equipment in place that supports back-and-forth communication.
  16. Invite a client to a meeting to speak about his or her experience working with your business.
  17. Start a book club. Assign an easy-to-read business book and discuss assigned chapters at each meeting. Consider having a separate book club that mixes departments and helps break down silos.

Click Here for instructions on how to start a book club and book recommendations.

 

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She can be contacted at emily@sellingstrategies.com.

 

She is the author of Great Service Sells, Selling from the Inside, and Service Selling Supercharge. For information on learning materials and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.sellingstrategies.com.

 

 

 

17 Terrific Tips When Visiting Clients

17 Terrific Tips When Visiting Clients

Meeting with your clients in their environment is a great way to strengthen existing relationships. Not only will you get a better sense of their business and culture, the visit demonstrates your professionalism and appreciation. Use these reminders as a checklist for making your client visits successful.

  1. Set up the appointment by phone, not e-mail. Discuss mutual objectives, agenda items, who to meet with, who will be conferenced in, meeting space, A/V equipment if needed, etc.
  2. Pre-call plan with your team. Identify who will lead conversation on specific issues. Prepare a list of anticipated questions and responses. Do your homework on key topics.
  3. Confirm the visit a day or two in advance. Ask if there are any changes from original plans.
  4. Take plenty of business cards.
  5. Wear appropriate business attire even if it’s casual jean day in their office. If you don’t know, ask if their dress standards are business or business casual.
  6. Bring enough materials and marketing gifts. Avoid having to ask your client to make copies.
  7. Conference room seating. Ask your client about seating arrangements.
  8. If using slides on a screen, keep room properly lighted. If detailed information is presented, have paper copies as well. Be prepared to present without visuals if equipment is not working.
  9. Lunch protocol. Advance planning is needed. Who to include and invite, reservations so the table is ready, and server informed you are buying.
  10. Ask for scheduled time to meet others you do business with in their office such as accounting, support services, and claims.
  11. Vehicle and parking. Be sure your vehicle is clean and ready for guests in case you are asked to drive to lunch or another meeting. Park in employee area or on the street. Do not park in their designated customer spaces.
  12. When visiting with colleagues, arrive together at the office. Arriving separately is an inconvenience to your host.
  13. Turn off your cell phone and keep it out of sight. If you need to use it to research something, ask permission, use it, then put it away. Wear a watch since you won’t have your cell phone as a timepiece.
  14. Using an iPad or other device to take notes is not recommended. It interferes with conversation since your attention is focused on the screen and typing. If using your iPad or tablet to run a presentation on a screen, turn off any alert sounds.
  15. Be a master of small talk and conversation starters. Obviously, stay away from politics and religion. Asking “how’s business?”  or “what’s new this year?” are safe conversational questions.
  16. At the start of the meeting, briefly review your agenda with attendees. Reconfirm timeframe. Ask your client what they want to discuss. Start with the items most important to them even if it’s not on the agenda.
  17. Follow up with an e-mail that is both a brief meeting summary and thank you. If there are items you are researching, let them know the timeframe of your response.

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She can be contacted at emily@sellingstrategies.com.

 

She is the author of Great Service Sells, Selling from the Inside, and Service Selling Supercharge. For information on learning materials and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.sellingstrategies.com.

 

 Emily Huling  Selling Strategies, Inc.

P.O. Box 200  Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802

Mobile: 704-516-5114 

www.sellingstrategies.com

 

 

 

17 Terrific Tips to Promote Positive Energy

17 Terrific Tips to Promote Positive Energy

Positive energy is contagious. People want to be around others who generate this attractive aura. It is a magnet. Viewing situations and desired outcomes with a can-do attitude improves problem solving and productivity. It is both a mindset and a cultivated skill. Here are 17 tips to promote positive energy in your universe.

  1. Start each day by stating, “I’m going to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
  2. Walk with a spring in your step and a smile on your face.
  3. When speaking face-to-face with a person, look directly in his eyes.  Undivided attention uplifts and inspires.
  4. Don’t take anything personally. Know that whatever others say, do, think, or feel, it’s not about you.
  5. Eliminate or distance yourself from negative people in your life. That includes family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Protect yourself from harmful karma.
  6. Focus on something meaningful outside of yourself – charity, church, community.
  7. Don’t get sucked into others’ drama. Just listen and empathize.
  8. Notice something you like about a person. Give a compliment.
  9. When in line at a store, invite people with few items to go in front of you.
  10. Stretch, walk, and move to get your physical energy in gear.
  11. Use positive affirmations. I am good. I am generous. I am successful. I am happy. I am productive. I am patient. I am smart. I am kind.
  12. Setbacks are normal.  Reflect, learn, and move forward.
  13. Ask for help. Let others know you trust them.
  14. Avoid judging others. Be generous in spirit.
  15. Make lists to get things accomplished. Cross off completed tasks and feel the achievement.
  16. Unclutter your spaces – car, office, home. Your mind will unclutter as well.
  17. Meditate or simply be still and breathe deeply for just 5 minutes each day. Think peace, love, and harmony.

 Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She can be contacted at emily@sellingstrategies.com.

 She is the author of Great Service Sells, Selling from the Inside, and Kick Your ‘But.’ For information on learning materials and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.sellingstrategies.com.

 

17 Terrific Tips to be a Great Coworker

To support getting our jobs done and serving our clients, we each develop an individual work style. If our coworkers are put out or put off by our actions, it detracts from a pleasant, productive office environment. Consider these suggestions to be a great coworker.

  1. Say please and thank you.
  2. Smile at people when you pass in the hall.
  3. Learn your job and use the authority you have been given. Avoid asking others questions you should know the answers to yourself.
  4. Acknowledge your coworkers for doing a great job.
  5. Practice respectful meeting etiquette.  Be on time, be prepared, and participate by listening and responding.  Turn off all electronic devices. If you need to take a call, leave the room promptly.
  6. Don’t waste coworkers’ time. Be conscious of taking someone’s time unnecessarily whether it’s work related or personal.
  7. Telephone etiquette. Do not use a speaker phone in an open workspace. Answer the phone no later than the third ring. Turn off the ringer on your mobile phone.
  8. Watch your talking style. Keep your voice low so as not to disrupt others.  Speak only as loud as necessary to be heard by the other party. Never swear. It is unprofessional and offensive.
  9. Don’t whine or gossip.  If you have a complaint, speak to someone who can do something about it, either your boss or the person in charge. Offer a solution if you can.
  10. If it’s broken, fix it or tell somebody. If you find electronic devices, office furniture, or building issues that need repair or attention, take the initiative to report it to get it fixed.
  11. Practice considerate break room etiquette. If you make a mess, clean it up.  Do your own dishes. Close cabinet doors. If you take the last cup of coffee, make more.
  12. Minimize personal calls. You’re at work to work.  Set boundaries with family and friends as to your availability.
  13. Keep an odor-free workspace. Don’t eat anything smelly at your desk and don’t use personal fragrance.
  14. Respect another person’s space. Do not use someone’s phone, computer, or work area without his or her permission.
  15. Leave your private life at the door. Don’t reveal too much information about your personal life to coworkers. Save it for family and close friends.
  16. Be a model for the behavior you want your coworkers to have. Timeliness, accuracy, and courtesy are just a few.
  17. Keep your views of politics, religion, and social issues to yourself.

Circulate this. Post it in the breakroom. Keeping this list visible will help avoid friction. Stay focused on what you’re at work to do.

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She can be contacted at emily@sellingstrategies.com.

Emily is a frequent presenter at industry conferences, on the national faculty of the Society of CIC, and is the author of Great Service Sells, Selling from the Inside, and Kick Your ‘But.’  For information on her products and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.sellingstrategies.com.

17 Terrific Tips to Hire the Right Person

Hiring the right person is a daunting and challenging task. However, hiring the wrong person can damage morale, credibility, service standards, and the bottom line.

These tips will assist once qualified candidates are found, but that’s easier said than done! Sources to consider include referrals from family, friends, employees, industry groups, and colleagues. Your LinkedIn network can help you find similar positions in other industries and experts who work in a target industry. Don’t forget temporary agencies and want ads which can help find applicants as well.

Here are tried and true practices to make your hiring process and result as positive and profitable as possible.

  1. Resumes reveal a lot. Work experience, life experience, education, attention to detail, and writing skills. Pay close attention.
  2. Use a checklist with 1-5 rating scale and notes to track candidates. It also helps recall and provides an outline to discuss qualifications with others. Categories to include are knowledge of position, transferable experience, personal presence, communication ability, alertness, and interest.
  3. Phone interview first. 80% of client communication is by phone. Assess for confidence, clarity of speech and thought, grammar, ability to listen and respond to what is asked.
  4. If using personality assessments (highly recommended), have the candidate take the profile before the in-person or Skype interview. Hold off on submitting it for scoring until candidate advances to the final selection.
  5. All interviewers need to be instructed about appropriate and legal employment hiring practices. Specifically, what to ask and what not to ask.
  6. Interview all candidates for a position using a similar environment and format to better compare and avoid claims of discrimination.
  7. Co-workers should interview the candidates.
  8. Peer managers should interview the candidates without reviewing the resume. Different insight will be gained based on personal interview only.
  9. Utilize a knowledge assessment if the candidate has industry experience.
  10. Utilize an aptitude skill assessment if the candidate is new to business.
  11. Utilize technology skill testing for all candidates.
  12. Review the job description and training program in detail with the candidate. Let the candidate know there is 90-day probationary/trial period to be certain of a mutually beneficial match.
  13. Review the company’s vision, values, and mission with the candidate.
  14. Ask behavioral questions. “Tell me about a time,” or “What would you do if,” or “Describe a time that,” or “What kind of manager/coworker/client do you prefer to work with?”
  15. Check references and reports. Candidates need to sign forms allowing investigative reports to be ordered.
  16. Ask the candidate to hand write the answer to an essay question such as “Why do you want to work here?” or “From what you know about our business, how can you contribute to its success?” or “Why should we hire you?”
  17. After the interview, send an e-mail follow-up question. “I forgot to ask you….” Assess response time, e-mail writing skills, and clarity of answer to the question.

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She can be contacted at emily@sellingstrategies.com. She’s a frequent presenter at industry conferences, on the national faculty of the Society of CIC, and is the author of “Great Service Sells”, “Selling from the Inside”, and “Kick Your ‘But.’” For information on her products and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.sellingstrategies.com.

17 Terrific Tips to be Polished and Professional

Forming opinions about people and sharing those impressions with others is something we all do. When asked what you think about someone, our minds recall that individual’s energy, appearance, voice, facial expression, courtesy, written communication, and spoken words. Fortunately it’s in our power to convey the image and effect we desire. Here are some pointers to present your most polished and professional self.

1. Call people by name.

2. Answer your phone with your first and last name.

3. Change your office voice mail daily or weekly noting date and accessibility. Let callers know when you’ll call back or who can assist in your absence.

4. Know and remember one personal detail about others such as family, alma mater, hobby, pets, sports, and interests.

5. When conversing in person, focus your eyes 100% of the time on the other person’s eyes.

6. Before ending a call or a meeting ask, “What else can I help with?”

7. E-mail signatures should include all of your contact information on both originating and reply messages. This confirms professionalism and accessibility.

8. Know and use the preferred communication channel (phone, e-mail, text) of your clients and colleagues.

9. Never speak ill of competitors. You’ll be the one that looks bad.

10. Advise clients of the status of outstanding, pending, or changing issues. Better to take the initiative than to receive a call asking “what’s going on?”

11. Clothes should be age appropriate, well fitting, clean, and pressed. Avoid clothing that is suggestive or too casual.

12. When greeting a person, be the first to extend your hand for a handshake. If seated, stand to shake hands.

13. Acknowledge coworkers with a smile and hello when passing in the hall or in the break room.

14. Your LinkedIn profile is what comes up when someone googles your name. Be certain to maintain a complete, error-free profile that includes a professional picture.

15. Speak grammatically correct English. Do not swear and avoid slang.

16. Be on time for all meetings. Take a seat at the table to show interest and commitment. Avoid sitting in chairs along the side, if possible. Turn off and put away all electronic devices.

17. Keep your workspace uncluttered, clean, and appropriately decorated.


Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She can be contacted at emily@sellingstrategies.com.

Emily is a frequent presenter at industry conferences, on the national faculty of the Society of CIC, and is the author of “Great Service Sells”, “Selling from the Inside”, and “Kick Your ‘But.’” For information on her products and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.sellingstrategies.com.

Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802
Mobile: 704-516-5114
www.sellingstrategies.com

17 Terrific Management Tips

by Emily Huling, CIC, CMC

Retirements, company restructuring, and growing businesses are launching new leaders and managers. Both new and experienced managers face modern-day management issues. Those include remote employees, flex-time workers, video and telephone meetings, different time zones, workforce diversity, and 24/7 access to work. Here are some quick tips to be an effective and supportive manager in today’s world.

1. Manage work. Develop people. Make these principles your watchwords.

2. Give people something to work toward, not just work on. Be concise about corporate and department goals, values, and metrics.

3. Listening is your most effective tool. Don’t assume you need to step in, solve a problem, or offer an opinion. After focused listening ask, “How can I help?” The answer will guide your response.

4. Personal friendships with direct reports are best kept outside the office. Perceived favoritism can lead to ill will from other associates.

5. A structured new-employee orientation is critical for success. To engage and enlighten the new hire: a personal welcome by a top leader, an assigned coordinator, a review of standard office protocols, job shadowing throughout the company, as well as specific job training.

6. Boost employee problem solving by asking these questions: “What do you think?” “What’s the benefit or downside to doing that?” “How would that work?”

7. Don’t send employees e-mail or text messages at night. It adds unnecessary stress and expectations. Create a draft and send it in the morning. Everyone needs down time.

8. When poor performers and substandard work are not addressed in an organization, it’s the top performers who leave.

9. Any more than six direct reports are too many. Rethink the reporting structure to create supervisors or lead people who will manage work, monitor results, and report progress or gaps.

10. If you think your age or gender is an obstacle in effectively doing your job, understand that it’s your baggage, not your employees. Get over it and be a great manager.

11. Remote workers have the same organizational responsibilities as on-site workers. Make certain technology provides reliable support. Keep communication open and frequent. Initiate two or three brief phone meetings a week. Include off-site workers in all staff meetings no matter how brief.

12. Use flip charts. Meetings dramatically improve, discussions move forward, and actions can be assigned when ideas are posted on paper charts (not dry erase boards). Paper is permanent and you can refer back.

13. When in the office, individual and upbeat morning greetings set the tone for the day. Don’t leave anyone out.

14. Formally assign backup staff for all jobs at all times, not just for vacation. This encourages teamwork, ensures work gets done, and clients are served.

15. Handle sensitive issues with care. Avoid e-mail, meet in person, and pay attention to body language. Have another manager present if appropriate.

16. Don’t believe what others tell you about your employees. Get proof. Observe.

17. Take the career development aspect of your role seriously. When you help others achieve their goals, they will help you achieve yours.


 

 

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales and service organizations. She can be contacted at emily@sellingstrategies.com. She’s a frequent presenter at industry conferences, on the national faculty of the Society of CIC, and is the author of “Great Service Sells”, “Selling from the Inside”, and “Kick Your ‘But.’” For information on her products and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.sellingstrategies.com.

17 Terrific Telephone Tips

by Emily Huling, CIC, CMC

The telephone remains the most effective communication means following face-to-face conversation. Through voice, we sense attitude, emotion, and interest. Here are some tips to help teach or remind us how to make the most of this tried and true communication tool.

  1. Never e-mail negative news. Pick up the phone and call.
  2. Utilize a frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers document to assure accuracy and consistency in responding to routine inquiries.
  3. Respect customers’ time by preparing for outgoing calls. Create a list of questions or issues to discuss. Anticipate their questions or objections to be ready to respond knowledgeably and quickly.
  4. Use “I” instead of “you” when requesting information. “I need this information” sounds better than “You need to give me this information.”
  5. Take ownership of the call. Customers do not like to be transferred. If you do need to transfer a call, introduce the caller to your colleague. Do not place callers in voice mail without their knowledge.
  6. Use phone conversations to build and personalize relationships. Inquire about the weather, family, vacations, or hobbies. Look to find common interests.
  7. Be warm and cheerful in energy, words, and tone. “I’m so glad you called!” “We really appreciate your business.
  8. Pick up the line quickly. The phone should ring no more than three times. If you are going to be away from your desk, program the phone to roll into voice mail or to an associate’s line.
  9. Don’t sound like a recorded message. I called a person recently who answered the phone and identified herself. I hesitated a minute and said, “Oh, you’re alive!” She laughed and said many people mistakenly think she’s her voice mail message. That’s not a good thing! Answer the phone with enthusiasm.
  10. Identify yourself confidently. If you’ve ever been greeted by someone who sounded as if they weren’t quite sure who they were, you know what I mean. Using first and last name is the most professional way to distinguish yourself.
  11. Eliminate distractions immediately. Don’t try to finish something on the computer or read a report while you’re on the telephone. Half listening is rude and can create misunderstandings and extra work.
  12. Outgoing voice mail messages need to be current. Callers want to hear an upbeat, informative, and brief message that expresses accountability. “This is Emily Huling. Today is __________. I’m in the office and will return your call shortly.” “This is Emily Huling. Today is ________. I’m away from the office and will (will not) be checking messages. I’ll return your call ________.” For immediate assistance, dial _______ to reach _________.” (Include coverage disclaimer as appropriate.)
  13. Personalize the call. “What can I do to help you, Sally?” Calling people by name shows you are listening and makes them feel important.
  14. Listen well. Take notes, repeat back what you’ve heard, ask questions, and summarize the conversation. Avoid confusion and errors with good listening skills.
  15. Never leave the phone off the hook. You have no control over what your caller may hear. Always put a call on hold when you need to step away.
  16. Let the caller end the conversation. A simple, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” allows the caller to close the call. Doing that prevents the caller from feeling dismissed.
  17. Thank them for their business. People who do business with you want to know you appreciate their patronage. Tell them.

 

Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales, service, and leadership organizations. She is the author of Selling from the Inside, Great Service Sells, and Kick Your “But.” Visit www.sellingstrategies.com to learn how Emily’s programs and materials can benefit your organization.
Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802
Mobile: 704-516-5114
www.sellingstrategies.com