Every Phone Call is an Opportunity Ringing

Posted By: Chris Gaffney XCEL,

When I started my career in food and beverage 20 years ago, I quickly realized how much fun I could have just answering the phone. I know that this sounds odd, but every time I picked up the phone, I tried to answer with panache. Everyone I worked with got a kick, and I always received a laugh or a great response on the other end of the line. 

One day, a call came in from our owner. When I answered with my usual flair, I could tell I got a reaction! Unfortunately, however, it wasn’t the reaction I wanted or expected. He immediately asked to speak to the General Manager, and as a young man starting his career, I thought for sure I was in trouble. 

Well, as it turns out, he absolutely loved it! He spoke to my General Manager about how refreshing it was to have someone answer with so much enthusiasm, and added that he wanted me to answer the phone whenever possible to show other staff members what I was doing and how to make a connection to the customer over the phone. 

I have carried that enthusiasm with me throughout my career and in all avenues that my path has led me down. I want people to know that we have an opportunity every time the phone rings to make a connection. We can set ourselves apart from competitors, and raise the bar for the experience that the person on the other side has.  

We should take every phone call as an opportunity to brighten someone’s day, or to make them feel like they have made a great decision calling your property, business, or establishment. We need to realize that the person on the other end of the phone may be curious, excited, intimidated, or worried.  We can take the phone and make it a tool; use it to show that we are here to help in any way, and to ensure that the person on the other side of the call knows that this is where we want to be, who we want to work with, and that we’re happy they made the call.

I try to follow this mantra daily...

I will not allow someone to call or visit and leave feeling like they are not important.

To me, customer service is all about connecting and showing empathy for what someone is feeling or needing. 

We have all had “that experience” calling someone about an issue that we have had. Whether the cable is out, or you A/C is not working and it is 100 degrees, we have all called and dealt with that person on those calls that at the end we say “they should not be in customer service”. I challenge you to never have anyone ever say that about you! 

Here are 7 tips you can institute today to be amazing on the phone. 

  1. Take a breath before answering the phone. This will calm you down, and make it easy to clearly and energetically deliver your first words.
  2. Look at your reflection when talking on the phone. You will be able to see what they may be hearing in your voice. 
  3. Practice the Golden rule: Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated.  
  4. Be creative with your salutation. We all have to say similar things when answering, but you are able to spice it up from time to time. This will keep you on your toes, and will WOW the person calling in.
  5. Know your locations. There may be something anecdotal that you can include. Maybe you have beautiful rose bushes at your property and you can include this to paint a picture for the caller. 
  6. Go the extra mile. You never know who is calling and who you may impress. 
  7. Challenge yourself to make sure that you have connected with the person you are speaking with.

Implement these practices, and you will always ensure an amazing customer experience. Utilizing the telephone has created so many amazing victories in my life. I have successfully leased to many phone prospects, sight unseen, all because I'm willing to take the time to listen, share, and help them make decisions based on their needs. My actions are often rewarded with positive outcomes, reviews, and comments, letting me know that what I'm doing is working!

In closing, remember that a lot of us would not have a job/career without the phone and the people on the other side calling in. I believe every call is an opportunity ringing. It could be that final lease you need to get your property to 100%, or that new employee that is going to make everything come together. In some cases, it may even be a person that is in desperate need of a friendly ear to help navigate through something very difficult. The gift of answering the phone can truly affect someone’s life, be it good or bad. I optimistically hope we would all rather be a ray of sunshine to someone! 

Thank you for calling! This is Chris, how may I help you?

Always remember these key takeaways:

  • Answer the phone with a smile!
  • Show appreciation for the call.
  • Treat them like you have been waiting for their call.
  • First impressions are often made over the phone
  • They could have always called somewhere else.

This article was written by Chris Gaffney with Greystar, as a part of the XCEL Committee's goal to provide regular, educational, posts for TAA's blog.